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Incorporating a Muddiest Point Activity to Encourage Metacognition

Muddiest pt exit slip: I'm struggling with the relationship between the radius & coordination number.
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Instructors looking for a simple, no-stakes way to help students evaluate their understanding of material will find value in the Muddiest Point activity. This activity offers students an opportunity to think about their own learning (employ metacognition) in order to identify which aspects of the course information are confusing or unclear to them. This can be achieved by allowing students to write down lesson concepts or points that they find confusing or unclear. By engaging students in this type of anonymous feedback loop, you offer them the ability to enhance and deepen their learning, thereby increasing their satisfaction with the course. You may also find indications that some of your instructions may be confusing.

To implement this activity, follow these steps:

  1. Select the modality you wish to use to implement the activity.
    • Notecards (best for in-person courses)
    • Online tools such as a Google Jamboard or Canvas survey (best for online courses)
  2. Distribute the notecards or a Jamboard or survey link at the beginning of class.
  3. Offer 2-5 minutes at the end of class to allow students to reflect on what they have learned and to identify points of confusion or unclarity.
  4. Spend some time reviewing the students’ muddiest points prior to the next class to effectively prepare concise, yet detailed explanations of the material.
  5. At the beginning of the next class, take a few minutes to address the points raised by the students and to clarify or re-teach, briefly.

Some additional benefits to using this activity include giving students a sense of agency and making them feel recognized by the instructor.  It can also be a valuable tool for modifying instructor lectures to align with student needs more effectively.  

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