The Muddiest Point efficiently provides instructors with timely student feedback. While students may shy from raising their hands and to ask questions, they tend to see the Muddiest Point as unobtrusive. Students are given one or two minutes to answer the question, “What was the muddiest point in ___________________?” You can ask this question about virtually anything: a lecture, presentation, or even an assigned reading.

Such a short question gives instructors insight into which topics need more attention, and how much time should be allotted to these topics. An added benefit to the exercise is that students learn to identify and articulate quickly what they do not understand. As a result, students engage in critical thinking, rather than simply repeating what they perceived to be a key point in the lecture.

You can use the Muddiest Point in almost any setting, but it tends to be most useful in large, lower-level courses where large quantities of information are being shared quickly with students. 

Clearly indicate what you’d like feedback on: a whole class? Part of a lecture? A video you showed in class? Reserve a few minutes at the end of the class and let students know how much time is left so that they don’t feel rushed. Provide students with paper to write on, and collect the papers before or as students leave. Read through the responses once class is over, and use a few minutes at the beginning of the next class to address their comments.

Consider adding the Muddiest Point to your teaching resources. Used every now and again, or as a regular part of lecture, the Muddiest Point will help you gain insight into what your student have learned and how effective your teaching methods have been.

Adapted from Angelo, T. and K. Cross. (1993). “Muddiest Point”. In: Classroom Assessment Techniques. A Handbook for College Teachers. 154-158.