A Business Application of the Minute Paper

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In spite of the seemingly ever-increasing emphasis on research and publishing in academia, the perceived importance of teaching in business schools has increased in recent decades (Ehie & Karathanso, 1994). Attempts to evaluate both the performance of students and teachers may become even more prevalent as larger numbers of institutions require demonstration of the effectiveness of teaching via outcome based assessments (Smart, Kelley & Conant, 1999).

Changing accreditation standards, tenure and post-tenure review processes, and merit-pay systems are among the many factors leading universities to change the way teaching is being assessed. Bilimoria (2000, 704) cites an "unprecedented attention to pedagogical issues" as one of the factors leading to a renewed scholarship of teaching and learning. The results of the Boyer Commission, in particular, have led many business schools to reevaluate the role of teaching and its evaluation (e.g., Boyer, 1990). Increasingly, faculty are asked to demonstrate evidence of an application of the scholarship of teaching beyond the traditional end-of-term evaluations.

End-of-term evaluations (Webster, 1990) provide a forum for students to express their opinions about course content and pedagogy. However, they may be inadequate for both making substantial and appropriate course changes and for evidence in the faculty evaluation process. Shaw and McIntyre (1996) identify five shortcomings of end-of-term evaluations: 1) instructors can make course improvements only after the course is completed; 2) differences in class composition may render changes inappropriate for future courses; 3) students are unable to benefit from their suggestions; 4) given students' lack of benefit from suggestions, high levels of involvement are not encouraged ; and 5) end of the semester and final exam preparation may lead students to overstate dissatisfaction or frustration. Thus, end-of-term evaluations may be an inadequate tool for course adjustments and may prove inaccurate when used as a means to evaluate faculty effectiveness in the classroom.

This article presents the Minute Paper as a recommended methodology to be used in conjunction with traditional end-of-term evaluations to solicit student feedback, leading to improved student learning. The Minute Paper, also called the One-Minute Paper and the Half-Sheet Response, is a simple and quick way to gather written feedback throughout the term from students. The following sections describe the Minute Paper and provide an overview of its application in two undergraduate business courses. Student perceptions of it use are presented. Finally, alternative uses of the Minute Paper and research questions to be addressed in future studies are provided.

THE MINUTE PAPER

The Minute Paper is a "relatively simple and low-tech" method designed to gather feedback from students on a regular basis (Chizmar & Ostrosky, 1998, 3). Instructors take two to three minutes of class and ask students to respond to some variation of two questions: 1) What important thing have you learned? and 2) What question(s) do you still have at this point? (Angelo & Cross, 1993). This on-going feedback provides faculty with data to assess student learning, and it increases student involvement in the learning process.

Once students have responded to the Minute Paper, a simple tabulation of the responses can provide the instructor with valuable information. It can serve as confirmation that students understand the major points of a lecture, and it can identify problem topics. Using this information, the instructor can then take a few minutes in the next class to review the results, providing praise when students have mastered a difficult concept, or reviewing material when problems still exist.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that students have positive attitudinal responses to the Minute Paper. Weaver and Cotrell (1985, 24) documented student comments about the technique and concluded that most students "were not just supportive, they were enthusiastic as well. …