Advice for students

‘d just like to add the “one-minute paper” to the mix as a tool for encouraging students’ metacognition, promoting student writing, and enhancing the overall teaching-learning process. The one-minute paper may be defined as a type of “quick write”–a short (one minute or less) writing activity/assignment that students engage in after completion of a learning experience (e.g., “What was the most memorable or useful thing you learned today?”). The nature of the question can vary, depending on the nature and objective of the learning experience, but the one constant among all types of one-minute papers is that it they prompt students to reflect on their learning experience and provide educators with feedback on the impact that learning experience had on students—cognitively, affectively (attitudinally), or behaviorally. It’s well documented that writing is an effective way to promote deeper thinking because it slows down the thought process, making it more deliberate and reflective, and results in a concrete “product” of thought, providing writer/thinker with a concrete source of feedback that can be reviewed, rethought and improved. (For further info on the practical benefits of writing, see that attached file, titled “WritingPower-&-Purposes”)


The second file, titled “One-Minute-Paper-question-prompts” provides a typology of questions that may be used as prompts for one-minute papers. Toward the end

of this document is a typology of questions that may be used specifically to prompt higher-order thinking skills (“HOTS”). To foster metacognition, this typology could

be initially used as a scaffold to increase student awareness of what constitutes higher-order thinking; once students become familiar these cognitive skills, the

prompts could be gradually faded and students asked to step back and reflect on their thinking and identify the particular type of higher-order thinking they engaged

in (e.g., analysis, synthesis, evaluation).


Students could also be asked to keep a “thinking log” or “thinking journal” to increase self-awareness of the thinking skills they are developing over time, or how their

thinking strategies may vary across different courses and academic fields. This practice would not only help students acquire higher-level thinking skills; it would

also help them insight into the type of thinking skills they acquired during their college experience and equip them with language they can use to articulate these

skills in job interviews and letters of application for career positions or graduate schools.


Historically, the one-minute paper was designed for use after a lecture or presentation–to encourage closure (reflective review) and consolidation (transfer to long-term memory), but it could also be used before a presentation–to activate students’ prior knowledge, feelings, and/or misconceptions about the concepts to be presented

(a cognitive process called elaboration), as well as during a presentation–to “break up” (punctuate) the presentation and attenuate “attention drift” that normally take place when students sit and process information for an extended period of time.


In fact, an effective learning sequence with a meaningful beginning, middle, and end  could be intentionally created by having students complete one-minute papers at three key junctures:

(1) prior to a presentation—as a “warm up” to activate students’ pre-existing ideas about the topic;

(2) during a presentation—to “break up” long periods of information processing and intercept attention drift; and

(3) after a presentation—as a “wrap up” to facilitate consolidation and closure.


Lastly, one-minute papers may be used to deepen thinking about co-curricular learning experiences. Collecting students’ papers at the end of a co-curricular event would be one way to assess what students took away from the event (co-curricular outcome); it would also provide the event planner with an immediate and accurate headcount of how many students participated in the experience (co-curricular usage).


Bottom  Line: In addition to promoting student reflection and metacognition, I’ve found the one-minute paper to be a very versatile tool that can be used in multiple contexts for multiple purposes. A synthesis of the multiple purposes and benefits of one-minute papers is supplied in the attached file, titled “one-minute-paper-one-dozen-advantages-benefits.”



Joseph B. Cuseo, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Psychology
Educational Advisor, AVID for Higher Educatio

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s