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One Minute Papers

One Minute Papers

Props/Prep: No
Time: 5-10 min
Audience: Individuals
Physical: No

One-Minute Paper or Short Writes: Ending your class with short writing assignments is a powerful way to assess the degree to which students understand presented material. You might ask, “What was the most important thing you learned during this class?” “What questions remained unanswered?” or “Summarize the main point of today’s lecture in one sentence.” This will give you some insights as to how you might need to modify the content for your next class.

Starting your class with the one minute paper, helps identify what was retained from the previous lecture and where there may be gaps in understanding. This is a good way to engage students in the task at hand prior to starting the lesson

Time requirements: 5-10 minutes

Materials needed: None

Special features: The one-minute paper and the ungraded quiz that follows are both examples of ungraded, written, in-class activities. These activities are a flexible way to acquire candid feedback on the course material and your presentation style. The one-minute paper can be done especially quickly and it shows students that they can write quickly and spontaneously, and enhances general writing ability.


  • Give a prompt for the paper such as, “What was the most important concept of this lecture?” or “What was the muddiest point of this lecture?”
  • Give students one or two minutes to think about the topic without writing anything.
  • Give students a short period of time (1 minute?) to write as much as they can.
  • Collect papers depending on the class atmosphere and the types of questions used. You may ask students to put their names on them but generally these ungraded assignments are left anonymous to encourage open responses to the questions.

Function in the class: Assign one-minute papers at the end as an indicator of comprehension, to  provide general writing practice, and to give students an incentive to absorb and comprehend course material. Consider using the content of one-minute papers to plan content of upcoming classes: when students see that the instructor responds to their concerns, confusions, and questions, in future classes, they will be motivated to participate.