Tools for Formative Assessment


Basic Strategy

Think-pair-share can be a great technique for facilitating discussion. It is a quick and simple technique to adopt. Faculty present a question or challenge, students reflect quietly and then partner with someone to discuss. A think-pair-share session could be 5 to 15 minutes.

Cartoon drawing Think Pair Share

Why would you use?

This exercise engages the class with content on multiple levels. It can help organize prior knowledge, deepen the level of content analysis, and improves the quality of student contributions. Think-pair-share is a popular technique because sharing ideas with a peer in a group of two is “low risk” compared to sharing an individual idea with an entire class.

When can you use?

Use think-pair-share when you want students to talk over new ideas or critically think about concepts presented in the lesson. This technique can be easily used ‘on the fly’ and works in small or large classes.

How does it work?

  1. Develop an engaging question or problem, ideally one with many viable potential responses.
  2. Have a plan for how to present the question (worksheet, PPT slide, etc.) and how you will facilitate students reporting out to the whole group.
  3. Pose a question to students.
  4. Students reflect on and write brief notes for one minute in response to the question.
  5. Students pair up with someone sitting near them and share their answers verbally for two to three minutes. Alternatively, they may also work together to create one best answer.
  6. Randomly choose a few pairs of students to give 30 second summaries of individual or joint answers.
student at blackboard

Other ideas

Technology based options

Think-pair-share does not adapt easily to online learning environments. It can be done but requires more work to create groups, private discussion boards, etc.