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by Derby Research School
Westbury Academy Nottingham, Raleigh Learning Trust.
Beth is an ELE for Derby Research School and Learning & Development Lead for the Raleigh Learning Trust and is the Research Lead at Westbury Academy in Nottingham. She is a Teacher Development Trust Associate in CPD Leadership and has presented on CPD practices and journal clubs for researchED and Transform Teaching School Alliance, establishing a website to support the development of Education Journal Clubs internationally.
Schools are now fully open but the possibility of providing remote learning at the drop of a hat remains. Over the last year, teachers have adapted in ways they probably never thought they’d need to and the wealth of innovation and sharing of practice that has gone on is still relevant to many. One of the conundrums facing teachers with remote learning is how to make use of formative assessment. Whether using blended, synchronous or asynchronous learning, how do you find out what pupils think, what they have understood, and what they require additional information about?
The one-minute paper is a strategy that has been used in universities for 30 years as a ‘modest, relatively simple and low –tech’ innovation to provide regular feedback from students (Chizmar and Ostrosky, 1998). In a lecture situation it is hard to tailor feedback to the individual when instructing large groups of students who are faces in a crowd, and with teachers providing remote learning raising similar issues, it’s worth considering how this strategy can be used in a wider educational context.
The one-minute paper is designed to take a minute to complete and is presented at the end of a lecture to capture students’ understanding of key concepts and ideas. Students are asked to answer two questions:
1. What is the most important thing you learned today?
2. What is the muddiest point still remaining at the conclusion of today’s class?
The first question aims to address the big picture of what has be learned whilst the second aims to find out how well learning is proceeding. The method for answering can vary from paper, to online forms or emails and they enable the teacher to offer individualised feedback, adapt their sequence of learning and address misconceptions during the next lecture.
The phrasing of the questions can be adapted to the context of the lecture, for example, ‘most important’ could be presented as ‘disturbing’, ‘surprising’, ‘meaningful’, ‘central’ etc. and in later stages of a course, students may be asked for course suggestions.
Feedback is offered either individually or offered centrally if there are common themes, creating ‘bi-directional communication’ that is often missing from a lecture environment (Lightbody and Nicholl, 2013).
In 2020, Karlsson-Brown, Gibb and Ferri reported the development of a digital one-minute paper and the utilisation of this to support business school teaching during remote learning. In the absence of visual clues, the one-minute paper offers a way to stay connected with students and their learning needs.
"The one-minute paper is simple to produce across multiple classes and is reported to increase student participation, enhance learning and increase test performance, with the individual nature of the feedback enhancing student performance regardless of student ability or the choice of instructor"
Lucas (2010) states that the one-minute paper was originally used to encourage active listening but became established as a way to identify students requiring assistance, document and track learning and signal to students that their input is respected.
The one-minute paper is simple to produce across multiple classes and is reported to increase student participation, enhance learning and increase test performance, with the individual nature of the feedback enhancing student performance regardless of student ability or the choice of instructor (Chizmar and Ostrosky, 1998; Divoll and Browning, 2010; Lucas, 2010; Karlsson-Brown, Gibb and Ferri, 2020). In contrast to summative assessments of learning or end-of-course feedback that are used to improve course delivery for subsequent classes, the one-minute paper offers a way to react mid-topic and an opportunity to identify misconceptions and areas to clarify at the start of the next lesson.
Both students and teachers see it as a way for students to connect with their teachers and teachers seem more ‘available’. There is also evidence that the one-minute paper offers a mechanism for quieter, more uncertain students to speak (Lightbody and Nicholl, 2013; Lucas, 2010) and help alleviate feelings of isolation (Lightbody and Nicholl, 2013; Karlsson-Brown, Gibb and Ferri, 2020) – both important considerations for remote learning.
The one-minute paper can be used for retrieval activities, metacognitive evaluation of learning and linking of core concepts. It is flexible in delivery and format and works both in-person and remotely.
The one-minute paper is very open in terms of its scope and does not provide the focus required to guarantee identification of all students’ areas of need. Asking students to identify the most important thing they have learned assumes that they know what they have learned and this may be particularly difficult for those who don’t already have a depth of knowledge. If it is to be used with school-aged students, decisions around when it is used are important.
Consideration also needs to be made as to the time teachers need to respond to individuals. Lucas (2010) states that the time given to personalised responses is worth it and found increased student engagement, but there is a balance to be met between time producing individual feedback and how often the strategy is used. Lightbody and Nicholl (2013) found an overall positive reaction to the one-minute paper but a gradual decline in engagement and suggest that it should be reserved for specific tasks and core content.
Kwan (2011) compared the one-minute paper with the daily quiz and concludes that the one-minute paper is not a substitute for the quiz. They found that whilst quizzes took longer to prepare and took longer to complete, students gave them more attention. It should be noted that the daily quizzes were not low-stakes as they counted towards student grades which may account for effort.
The one-minute paper is a strategy developed in higher education, so how would teachers need to adapt it to use with pupils with varying levels of experience?
The format of the one-minute paper allows for teachers to establish a familiar format that can be altered for use in different classes and lessons. Teachers can change the phrasing of questions and, rather than ask about the ‘most important’ thing learned, perhaps ask about the most surprising thing, or most disturbing. As an alternative to more focussed methods of formative assessment, it can be made in advance or altered quickly. By asking pupils to actively think about areas they are ‘muddy’ about rather than what they need to know more about, it may be possible to identify individual misconceptions, particularly during remote learning where confusion could be less obvious.
The time saved in preparation is countered by the time needed to respond to pupils individually. Ways to reduce this could include using responses to identify common areas of need and inform whole-class feedback with selected individual responses, and there may be a place for an online platform such as Padlet to be used where pupils could view each other’s comments and add their own.
Where the one-minute paper is used within a sequence of learning is also important. There is scope to use it at different points during individual lessons or as pupil voice to review the curriculum, but teachers should consider pupils’ curriculum journey more broadly and think about whether pupils have enough knowledge of a topic to be able to consider and answer the questions asked. The one-minute paper may have potential to support metacognitive thinking with reflection and evaluation of problem-solving strategies used and it is likely that teachers will find the one-minute paper more useful with older students who have a body of knowledge and are more able to identify where individual lessons fit into their wider experience.
Finally, it is also worth considering the one-minute paper as a method of feedback with adult learners in professional development situations. This may be used to personalise the learning experience and also offer a space to clarify thoughts on what teachers would like to know more about and their next steps.
There are of course many strategies that teachers employ to formatively assess pupil work and several of these have been used with remote learning. Low-stakes quizzing, whole-class feedback, brain dumps and exit tickets all have similarities with the one-minute paper, so how is this different to more familiar methods?
Any strategy for assessing pupil learning should be focussed enough to provide valid data in order to allow for accurate conclusions to be made by the teacher as to what pupils have learned and what they have misunderstood (Fletcher-Wood, 2018). Strategies such as the exit ticket are more able to achieve this however they do take more planning on the part of the teacher.
Whilst the one-minute paper may not provide the level of focus that teachers get from alternative strategies, preparation time is greatly reduced and whilst teachers are in a position where they need to prepare for learning in and out of school, the one-minute paper may be something to add to the toolkit. There could be a place for their use with pupils who have a deeper understanding of concepts being taught and for identifying individual concerns, particularly for pupils with lower confidence to ask, and as many teachers are using remote teaching to consolidate prior learning, by rephrasing the question asked, there is a place for gaining an insight into pupils’ retrieval practice.
Ultimately, teachers decide what is best for their pupils and workload. The one-minute paper isn’t something to replace any of the strategies already used, but it is additional option to consider.
Any strategy for assessing pupil learning should be focussed enough to provide valid data in order to allow for accurate conclusions to be made by the teacher as to what pupils have learned and what they have misunderstood
Anderson, D. and Burns, S., 2013. One-minute paper: Student perception of learning gains. College Student Journal, 47(1), pp.219 – 227.
Chizmar, J.F. and Ostrosky, A.L., 1998. The one-minute paper: Some empirical findings. The Journal of Economic Education, 29(1), pp.3 – 10.
Divoll, K. and Browning, S., 2010. The” Classroom Ticket” to Concept Retention. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 4(2), p.n2.
Fisher, M.J., 2006. One-minute paper. Journal of Nursing Education, 45(7), pp.287 – 288.
Fletcher-Wood, H., 2018. Responsive teaching: cognitive science and formative assessment in practice. Routledge
Karlsson-Brown P, Gibb A, and Ferri P, 2020 Utilising the Digital One Minute Paper to improve student experience in post-COVID-19 remote business school teaching (accessed 14-03-2020) https://charteredabs.org/digital-one-minute-paper-covid/
Kwan, F., 2011. Formative Assessment: The One-Minute Paper vs. the Daily Quiz. Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, 5.
Lightbody, G. and Nicholl, P., 2013. Extending the concept of the one minute paper model. Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from heacademy. ac. uk/system/files/cs_133_0. pdf Just One More Thing.
Lucas, G.M., 2010. Initiating student-teacher contact via personalized responses to one-minute papers. College Teaching, 58(2), pp.39 – 42.
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