Tools for Formative Assessment

Muddiest Point

muddy points on post-its board
PT Cervical Spine Module

Basic Strategy

Muddiest Point is a quick monitoring technique in which students are asked to take a few minutes to write down the most difficult or confusing part of a lesson, lecture, or reading. It is simple to create and facilitate. It only takes 15 minutes to collect and review approximately 100 muddiest points. While it is easy to use, over using one technique can fatigue students and devalue the process.

Why would you use?

  1. You can quickly check for understanding. This assessment gives you a picture of misconceptions and confusion that still exists in the students’ mind.
  2. Students can increase their understanding of their own learning. This assessment provides students with a metacognitive opportunity to think about their own learning. This is especially helpful with new information and complicated procedures.

How does it work?

  1. Determine what feedback you want. Do you want to ask a question that encompasses the entire class session or one self-contained segment? Do you want to ask a question related to a specific lecture, discussion, or presentation? Figure out what is of most value or where students struggle the most.
  2. Reserve a few minutes at the end of the class session. Leave enough time to ask the question, have students respond, and to collect the responses.
  3. Let students know how much time they will have to answer the question and when you will follow up with the results and provide feedback.
  4. index cards
  5. With so many students using laptops and tablets, it is plausible students will not have extra sheets of paper. Plan on distributing slips of paper or index cards for students to write on.
  6. Collect the responses as or before students leave.
  7. Respond to the students' feedback during the next class meeting. Share with students how responses will be used as a guide to plan the next instruction.

Other ideas

Technology based options