Making the Most of the Last Five Minutes

We have all been there as a student….the class is close to over; we start gathering materials, opening and closing backpacks, planning our escape as quickly as possible to the door to either run to a next class or sprint to the car to beat traffic.  As an instructor though, these final minutes of class are extremely valuable and we need to think of creative, strategic ways to use that time wisely.

As I wrote in my initial “6×6” post, the first five minutes of class are critical to establishing the purpose and tone for the day.  Similarly, the final five minutes of class are equally important to assess learning and establish expectations for the next class meeting.  Specifically, I believe the final five minutes of class are perfect to administer some type of classroom assessment technique (CAT) to determine, in a low-stakes, low-stress manner, if students learned the content for the day.  A resource I have used and shared with others with much success is “Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Instructors” by Thomas Angelo and K. Patricia Cross.  This resource includes how-to advice regarding implementing classroom assessment techniques into instruction to determine how well students learned material for the day.  The beauty of CATs is 1) instructors receive immediate feedback regarding student learning and 2) instructors can modify instruction based on the results of the assessment to better help students learn.  Personally, I have a few favorites.  I use “The Minute Paper” at the end of class and ask students to respond to two questions: What was the most important thing you learned during this class? And What important question remains unanswered?  I also use concept maps frequently, where students draw or diagram the connections they make between a major concept and other concepts they have learned in the class or throughout the course.

Although I’m more of a dog-lover myself, CATs (in this sense) are something I enjoy and try to keep in my bag of teaching tool tricks as much as possible.  And, they really help to make the last five minutes of class more worthwhile and meaningful for students.

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