Chain Notes

What is it?

This activity captures students’ on-the-spot reaction to the learning activity taking place. The facilitator writes a question on a large envelope which is passed around the class. Students quickly respond, placing responses in the envelope.

How can it be used?

•       To get feedback about a particular moment during a class

•       To measure engagement and participation with a topic or activity

How does it work?

The question is delivered to students, either using an envelope, pen and paper or electronically. Responses can be anonymous, which encourages students to answer quickly and honestly.


1.  Compose a question that will help you and your students capture a moment in their mental activity (eg. What were you paying attention to when this note reached you?) and write it on a large envelope.

2.  Pass around pieces of paper/index cards for the students to write on.

3.  Students pass around the envelope and quickly write a response to the question, place their piece of paper/card in the envelope, and pass it along to the next student.

4.  Review the data and detect patterns of responses. Are students engaged/not engaged, focused on self/teacher/others/content, question/praise/neutral comment or complaint, on target/off target/can’t tell. You may like to follow this up in class, or afterwards via Canvas.

Acknowledgement This resource is based on the “Not a waste of space” project materials produced by RMIT University and the University of Melbourne, with the support of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Except where otherwise noted, this content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.