James Lang on the Minute Paper Teaching Technique

cover of the book Small Teaching
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James Lang, author of Small Teaching, spoke at one of our Empowered Educator webinars. ┬áIn this audio clip he describes how faculty can use the “Minute Paper” small teaching technique to help students improve their recall of what was previous learned and which will better set them up for what they are about to learn.


We oftentimes go into a class or digital learning experiences. OK, here’s what we covered last time. Instead: turn that over to the students.


[Have them] keep their books and notebooks closed because we want them to be retrieving it, not just looking at their notebook. Let’s do that quickly before we get started. The Minute Paper has been hanging around higher education for a long time. The minute paper is a great example of a quick activity that can be done at the end of a class or even a digital learning section. Students are asked: what was the most important thing you learned today and what’s one question you still have about the course material?

When students are asked “What was the most important thing you learned?” Well, you have to think about that. You have to make a judgment about that. “I learned a lot of things in this session. What was the most important”, and so students are having to think about that. Write that down on an index card, and this is a very simple learning activity. Takes two or three minutes at most can be done at the end of a class session and can also be done in a digital environment. After students have read something or listened to a video lecture, they can answer that very simple question.

What was the most important thing that you learned today?