What do you want to learn next?

At my very last instruction session for this semester (which was on December 2 — possibly a new record for latest instruction session in the semester) I had a brilliant idea for an alternative to the Minute Paper1 for an end-of-session formative assessment, which was to ask students to write down the answer to one question:

What do you want to learn next?

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to actually do it, since the end of class was hectic and chaotic and involved half the students kind of leaving early (!) and the other half getting a short tour of essential locations in the building.

But anyway, I’m going to try to remember to do this in the spring at least once, because I’m terribly curious what their responses will be.  What I love about it is two-fold: first, it gets at the “what do you still have questions about?” aspect of the Minute Paper in a slightly different way than the actual phrasing of the Minute Paper, so it shakes up their assumptions just a bit.  And second, but more importantly, it subtly reinforces the idea that continuous learning is expected, and even more importantly, that it’s student-directed.  “What do you want to learn next?”

My experience of our student body is that many of them are (in the classroom, at least) fairly uncurious creatures, so anything that I can do to counteract that tendency is a good thing, I think.


  1. For my purposes, the standard “Minute Paper” consists of two questions: What is one useful thing that you learned today? and What is one thing you still have questions about? There are many variations, but this is the one I use.