The 5-Minute WriteUp

5-minute writeup
Take a 5-minute pulse check to see how well your students are learning.

After a lecture, some students will inevitably have questions. Some approach you after class if they didn’t get a chance to ask them during; others don’t. Which begs the questions, “How much did they all really understand? What is still unclear?” Similar to the muddiest point1, the 5-minute writeup is a variation on the highly successful minute paper2 in which students are given a minute to answer a question posed to them.

In this activity, an instructor stops class a few minutes early and asks students to respond briefly to some variation on the following two questions: “What was the most important thing you learned during this class?” and “What important question remains unanswered?” Students they write their responses on index cards or half-sheets of scrap paper and hand them in.

This technique helps identify areas where students have misunderstandings or questions and assesses how well they comprehend the material they’ve just been given. 

When used often and at regular intervals it provides a way to collect thoughtful responses from students about your lesson, readings, or assignments and encourages them to think on a deeper level about what they’ve learned. Also it allows them to feel valued in determining how classes and future lessons are structured, based on what you learn from their input.

When students hear others’ responses it can give encouragement to those who may feel they are the only ones who didn’t understand a concept. It may inspire those students who understand the material to help explain concepts to other students who are struggling. It can enhance communication in large classes and provide a small bit of personalized learning where otherwise it may be difficult or impossible to do. 

It also shows students that you are genuinely interested in whether they have understood what you’ve taught and whether they are still unclear and that you are open to using their feedback to improve the course. 

In Class

A few minutes before class ends, read each submission (or group similar ones) and address each one out loud. 


Instead of using during class time, assign an online version as homework. Our online version times out after 5 minutes, so you achieve the same effect as using it in class.

You can also use the online version the end of class with students’ own devices. If they don’t have access to a device, let them complete it in their own time, but before the next class.

If you use the online version, you can use SCORM Reports so you can see at a glance how well the class did as a whole. 

1, 2 Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross
From Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers, 2nd Ed.

Blend: Online or in-class


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