Dear teaching friends:

Here is an easy classroom activity that can be adapted to your needs.  The only supply required is a pack of index cards.

At the start of class, I show a slide with a question (or write one on the board).  I ask students to answer the question on their card, and I will collect it as they exit the room at the end of class.

Sometimes I ask a question that might make some students feel exposed, so I’ll allow them to be anonymous.  They don’t have to write their names on the card.  One such question is, “What do you wish your professors knew or understood about you?”  This always gives me special insights about this particular group of students.  They write things like “I wish professors understood that I have to work full time, so I have a hard time organizing my work.”  “I wish they knew that I’ve aged out of the foster care system and don’t have a family, so when they talk about students going home for breaks, it makes me sad.”  “I wish they knew that not every student wants to earn an A.”

Sometimes I’ll use the cards for attendance, so I *do* ask them to write their names on the cards.  I’ll ask a question like, “What’s the best thing you learned from class today?” or even, “What are your plans for this weekend?”

Before an exam, I might ask “What questions do you have about the upcoming exam?”  Then, I sort the cards into themes, and talk about them the next time we meet.  “About a third of you asked whether we could have a review session,” or “Several of you asked if there would be more definition questions, or application questions.”

Exit tickets have been effective in both small and large classes.  In smaller classes, it’s a great opportunity to get to know each student a little better.  In large lectures, it’s useful for “polling” the group to make sure they are understanding a concept, or that their concerns don’t go unaddressed.

I don’t use them every time the class meets, but once in a while, they’re a useful and fun addition to our regular routine.

Cheers –