A one-minute essay question (or one-minute question) is a focused question with a specific goal that can, in fact, be answered within a minute or two.
A 1-minute essay question can be used to check understanding, provide feedback, and promote reflection.
Characteristics of one-minute essay questions
- Short, clear questions that require responses that can be answered quickly with knowledge or opinions the students expect to have.
- Can be spontaneous based on unexpected outcomes in a lesson or activity.
- Can be used to state what part of the lesson is most confusing (muddiest point).
- Can be used as an indicator of whether lesson’s concepts are understood (e.g., list the three most important concepts in today’s lesson).
- Can require a few words or a couple paragraphs.
Example - good
In one to three minutes, describe what was most confusing in today’s lecture (today’s homework, reading, etc.). Why was this concept confusing?
Example - bad
What is your opinion of euthanasia?
Main errors in this proposed one-minute essay question:
It would be very difficult to provide a sufficient answer within a couple minutes.
- Without additional guidelines, students may try to answer in a manner in which they think the instructor wants them to answer.
Advantages of one-minute essay questions
- Useful in any discipline.
- Can be answered quickly and reviewed quickly.
- Can promote reflection and metacognition.
- Can show what students THINK the lesson theme is
- Can reveal what students value in the lesson
- Can reveal misconceptions
- Can check on background knowledge
- Can show that you are interested in students' opinions.
- Usually ungraded, but credit should be given for participation
- Can be composed quickly and at the last moment, depending on faculty and student needs.
- Can be used to improve teaching.
Disadvantages of one-minute essay questions
- Does not check in-depth understanding
- Students may not answer them seriously if they are ungraded and spontaneous.
Special thanks to the Schreyer Institute for their contributions to these pages.