Muddiest point formative feedback in core materials classes with youtube, blackboard, classwarm-ups andword clouds

Stephen Krause, Dale R. Baker, Adam Carberry, Milo Koretsky, Bill Jay Brooks, Debra Gilbuena, Cindy Waters, Casey Jane Ankeny

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

13 Scopus citations


Critical class reflections on "Muddiest Points", I.e. the content students struggle to grasp most, provide formative feedback to an instructor who can strategize to adjust his/her teaching and pedagogy to address issues specific to a given class. In a Muddiest Point Reflection, an instructor solicits from students a brief, anonymous written comment about difficult concepts or other issues that arose during the class. It is also possible now to easily and efficiently collect and review Muddiest Point reflection responses via the web on the cyber-enabled Concept Warehouse web site http://cw.edudiv. org, which also has large sets of concept-based clicker questions (or ConcepTests) for core chemical engineering classes as well as a set of clicker questions for an introductory materials science class. The Muddiest Point method allows students to reflect on their own learning over a whole class and highlight difficulty with specific issues or concepts. Self-efficacy of students can also increase because a class can be designed so that new information is based on students' prior knowledge, in which they hopefully have confidence, and can potentially motivate them to better learn. The critical class reflections also provide a clear and easy way to track the attitudes, understanding, and learning approaches of the students in the class. Addressing learning issues as quickly as possible with rapid feedback is an important part of effective teaching and consists of first assessing and evaluating students' knowledge and understanding of a topic. Feedback directed toward learning goals which are valued by students has the potential to increase motivation and persistence in achieving the goals. The collective set of responses from a given class can be evaluated by an instructor and synthesized into feedback to be delivered to students in different ways. In this research project on more effective teaching in core materials classes, the research question here is, "What is the effect on student learning and attitude of differing modes of feedback from students' Muddiest Point reflections?" One method is to restructure the notes from a given class and place the set on Blackboard so the new notes respond to student issues raised in Muddiest Points. This can reinforce class learning, clarify muddy points, and potentially assist in solving homework problems. A second method is with Class Warm-ups, which consist of a slide or two for discussion at the beginning of the next class which can help clarify confusing or difficult-tograsp concepts. Another method is to create Muddiest Point YouTube tutorial screencasts, such as the ones at MaterialsConcepts, which can be viewed by students to help resolve difficult concepts and also assist in solving homework problems. Preliminary results here show possible impact on student achievement in terms of significant gains with test results much higher than trend lines for upper, median and lower quartiles (over seven semesters) on content for which a Muddiest Point YouTube Tutorial screencast had been created. A final supplemental approach is to incorporate Word Clouds in any of the feedback methods. This allows students to visually assess and share what their most significant issues may be, with the Muddiest Point frequency of a given word from an issue revealed by the size of its word in the Word Cloud. Results show continuous improvement for positive gains on student attitude, achievement and retention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2013
Event120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Atlanta, GA, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2013Jun 26 2013


Other120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAtlanta, GA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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