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Notes on Teaching and Learning

Enhance Student Learning in Four Minutes

October 22, 2021
Julian Chike

Research on student learning demonstrates that leveraging the first two minutes of class and the final two minutes of class each day can significantly enhance the overall learning experience for your students. For example, consider the “entry ticket” and “exit ticket.” An “entry ticket” is an exercise that students do for the first two minutes before the lesson begins. The “exit ticket” is an exercise that students do for the last two minutes of the class period. Below are a few ideas for how to use entry and exit tickets. Ideally, these exercises will be turned in to you. Utilizing online platforms such as Google Forms is especially helpful here because both you and your students are able to see their response.

Sample Entry Tickets

  • Review material from the previous lesson – You can do this in one of two ways. You as the primary facilitator can rehearse what was covered in the previous lessons, highlighting main points that will be important for the current lesson. Or, you can invite students to be co-facilitators by assigning them (ahead of time) a particular day for them to provide the two-minute review of material (Blazer 2014).
  • Invite students to make predictions – Before covering new course content, ask students to write down what knowledge they already have about the subject matter. Alternatively, you can invite them to speculate about the content they’re about to learn about. Such predictions can pique curiosity which has recently been demonstrated to boost memory (Yuhas 2014)
  • Revisit your syllabus – Instead of allowing students to bury (or lose) their syllabus in a heap of papers, you can have students bring their syllabus to class on any given day. You can refer them to a specific day from earlier in the semester and ask them to take two minutes to write down what they remember about that day.

Sample Exit Tickets

  • Reflect for two minutes – On a notecard (or Google Form) give students two minutes to write a response to the following prompt: write down the most important concept you learned from the day and one question or confusion that still remains in your mind. To optimize learning, ask students to close their notes beforehand. For additional “exit ticket” reflection questions, click here.
  • Co-create assessment questions – In place of the two-minute reflection, you can ask students to write a multiple choice question and a short answer question based on the day’s content. This can be done using a notecard or Google Form (or equivalent online platform).
  • Assess material covered – At the end of class, you can have the students take a brief (ungraded) quiz. This requires more forethought, but studies show that students who had frequent ungraded assessments at the end of each class period retain up to 27% more information than unassessed students (Roediger and Butler 2007).

In his book, Why Students Don’t Like School, Daniel Willingham said: “memory is the residue of thought” (Willingham 2009). If we desire our students to be able to remember material that’s integral for critical thinking and synthesis, they should have key opportunities to think on the material. Investing two minutes at the beginning and end of class to create space for students to think will enhance their overall learning experience. Simultaneously, you will acquire a better sense of where your students are and how you can best facilitate their learning moving forward. 

Resources:

Ambrose, S., M. Bridges, M. DiPietro, M. Lovett, M. Norman. How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010.

Ambrose, S. A., and M. C. Lovett. “Prior Knowledge is More Than Content: Skills and Beliefs Also Impact Learning. Pages 7–19 in Applying Science of Learning in Education: Infusing Psychological Science into the Curriculum. Edited by V. A. Benassi, C. E. Overson, and C. M. Hakala. Society for Teaching of Psychology, 2014.

Banning, M. “The Think Aloud Approach as an Educational Tool to Develop and Assess Clinical Reasoning in Undergraduate Students. Nurse Education Today 28 (2004): 8–14.

Blazer, Annie. “Student Summaries of Class Sessions.” Teaching Theology and Religion 17.4 (2014): 344.

Brown, Peter C., Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel. Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2014.

Cavender, Amy. “Using Google Forms for In-Class Polling.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.

How to Assess a Student’s Prior Knowledge.” Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University.

Lang, James M. Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2016.

Preszler, R. W., Dawe, A., Shuster, C. B. & Shuster, M. “Assessment of the Effects of Student Response Systems on Student Learning and Attitudes over a 

Broad Range of Biology Courses.” CBE-Life Sci. Educ. 6 (2007): 29–41.

Roediger III, Henry L., and A. C. Butler. “Testing Improves Long-Term Retention in a Simulated Classroom Setting.” European Journal of Cognitive Psychology 19 (2007): 514–527.

Sample Exit Tickets.” The Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning, Brown University.

Willingham, Daniel. Why Don’t Students Like School? A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions about How the Mind Works and What it Means for the Classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey, Bass, 2014.

Yuhas, D. “Curiosity Prepares the Brain for Better Learning.” Scientific American.