What is it?

Students respond to an example, demonstration or some other media or activity. Students are asked to write a paragraph that encourages them to reflect on what they found valuable from a particular learning activity. It can help students realise that the activity was designed for more than entertainment and reinforce learning outcomes.

Why use it?

Students can become overwhelmed by the amount of content covered in a one or two hour class. Often students miss the opportunity to digest new or challenging concepts. A response activity provides students with time in class to think, and most importantly participate, by writing about the subject matter.

How does it work?

The facilitator delivers a presentation demonstrating a challenging concept or procedure. Students are asked to write a paragraph that begins with a prompt such as:

  • I was surprised that...

  • I learned that...

  • I wonder about...

When introducing the activity ask students to spend a minute considering their response. Students should refrain from writing or talking – the aim is for students to engage deeply with the task. When using this activity for the first time you might consider providing a sample response. Allow five minutes for writing and reflection. Consider using a timer to keep the activity on track. To close the activity ask students to discuss their reflections in small groups. Alternatively you can ask students to copy their response to a Canvas discussion board set up for this purpose and to give feedback on other student’s reflections.


Hobson, E. H. (1996), Encouraging self-assessment: Writing as active learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 1996: 45–58. doi: 10.1002/tl.37219966707

Klein, Perry D. “Reopening inquiry into cognitive processes in writing- to-learn.” Educational Psychology Review 11.3 (1999): 203-270.

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.