One minute papers

Rationale for One-Minute Paper

The one-minute paper is a simple way of creating feedback in classes where student numbers are large. The teacher poses some questions to the students on important topics near the end of a lecture, reviews the students' responses after the class and addresses any misunderstandings through feedback in the next class. The feedback directly relates to the students responses and can involve class discussion or even further probing of understanding by the teacher.

In responding to the questions students learn what they do not understand and they might discuss this with peers or engage in their own search for answers outside class. There are many variations on the one-minute paper and it can be used in any discipline to develop understanding or specific skills.

Implementing the One-Minute Paper

The basic idea is that before a lecture begins students are presented with two questions such as:

  • What was the main point of today’s lecture (What was the most important thing you learned today?)
  • What important questions remain outstanding? (What question remains uppermost in your mind as you conclude this session?)
The students are told that the class will end 5 minutes early so that they can answer the questions, which will be re-displayed on an overhead. The students are given cards or they use half sheets of paper for their responses (each answer on different side). Responses are ANONYMOUS. Students simply drop their responses in a box on the way out of class.
Variations on this procedure are given by Steve Draper (see reference below)

Benefits of the one-minute paper

This simple procedure has been shown to lead to remarkable results:
  • By presenting the questions at the beginning students actively listen: they pay attention in class in anticipation of answering the questions
  • Students must also re-process the teacher-presented information and this re-processing is an essential component of ‘active learning’.
  • Asking for a summary of the main idea develops the ability to think holistically, to focus on the big idea and take the bigger picture
  • Formulating questions develops questioning skills
  • Reflecting and identifying gaps in their understanding develops meta-cognitive thinking.
  • Writing their responses can even develop persuasive and expressive skills 

Feedback and the one-minute papers

How the teacher responds to the collected information from students is as important as the results themselves. Look through the responses and, for example, put them in three piles - good understanding, average understanding and poor or no understanding of main point of lecture. If there are large numbers just sample from the total.
Use the findings in the next lecture session to REPLAY some responses and to highlight good answers and the reasons for some poor answers. That is, give feedback on the students’ responses. Also, tell students what they might do next time to improve and what you might do to help them learn. Use this feedback as an opportunity to build dialogue. 
Collating the questions that students ask will also provide a useful lead in to the next session where you can again provide feedback through your answers.
The one-minute paper is both a learning exercise for students, an evaluation of the effects of your teaching and an opportunity for feedback. Students benefit from seeing others responses and it has been found to enhance motivation to learn.

Rapid Feedback

All the one-minute techniques suggested on this site are based on a variation on the same pattern. One minute papers:

  • can be used in almost any situation, they are easy to integrate into teaching
  • can help create teacher-student dialogue both in and across classes
  • offer a simple way of creating feedback even when student numbers in class are large  

Read more about the one-minute paper and its variations on Steve Draper's web pages


Steve Draper at Glasgow University has provided a useful summary of this topic (see above).  He outlines examples and provides the learning rationale for the one-minute paper.

 Stead, D.R. (2005), A review of the one-minute paper, Active Learning in Higher Education, 6, 118-131