I'm teaching a lot of students who are fairly unresponsive in a large class that is set early in the morning. While I'm working on ways to encourage them to respond to questions, I find that normal indicators of how one is doing are absent: they don't laugh at jokes, groan, interrupt, or give much indication at all of how they are finding the content. If I ask if people understand or have questions, I will get no responses. While I find this somewhat discouraging, a more pressing issue is that I find it hard to work out if they are actually understanding what I'm saying (or perhaps they understand, but disagree). Possibly they are bored, or tired (as it is early). Presumably I'll get feedback at the end of the course, but I'd rather fix any issues now rather than later.

When trying to evaluate myself I think I might rush sentences, and use too many crutch words, but I don't know if this is an issue for students. If it is, they are highly unlikely to say as much, to my face at least! It is even hard to gauge their prior knowledge and what sort of level of terminology I can assume will be understood. For throwaway comments I can give synonyms or quick explanations, but doing this constantly will slow things down a lot and will be tiresome for those who already understand these terms. I don't want to send out a question which essentially amounts to "do I suck?"

  • 3
    I teach both early morning (start 8:30 am) and late afternoon (end 7 pm) classes and I've never observed any significant difference in the responsiveness. But beware that there are many students who are not interested in participating actively (I was one of them), and many aren't interested in listening to jokes either (I was one of them). Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 0:15
  • About jokes again: along the years I heard many professors complaining that some students don't laugh at jokes, but what they do not understand is that it's not their business to tell jokes. If a joke comes up naturally once in a (long) while, that's ok, but please don't tell jokes just to entertain students. Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 0:27
  • @MassimoOrtolano "jokes" might be a poor choice of word - what I really mean is statements that tend to illicit some sort of response (and certainly would in normal conversation)
    – Stumbler
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 10:13

2 Answers 2


One thing that I've heard suggested is a "one-minute assignment": at the end of each lecture, ask students to write down two things and turn it in:

  • A one-sentence description of what they thought was the most important point of the lecture, and
  • A one-sentence description of what was most unclear to them during the lecture.

These questions give you a sense of what the students thought of the lecture, and what didn't work.


I've seen many teachers get a lot of valuable information from asking the students what they should start doing, stop doing and continue doing in the classroom.

Try using a survey or hubert.ai to collect your answer. The latter uses a chatbot to engage your students and automatically categorizes feedback to help you get a quick overview.

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