Tag Archives: Methods2Go

#Methods2Go: Methods for feedback and reflection in university teaching

More methods today, inspired by E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden 2 go online!“! Today:



I used to hate it when in in-person workshops everybody was asked to give a statement at the end, about what the most important thing was they learned, or how they liked something, or that kind of thing because on the pressure I felt in those situations. But virtually, fo example as a lightening storm in the chat, I rather like the method because it gives an equal voice to everybody instead of a few people dominating everything, and it’s also documented rather than just everybody just quickly saying something before then rushing off. It’s definitely a nice way to get a quick impression from everybody!

Doing this synchronously (as in everybody submitting what they wrote at the same time) also gives you an overview that is less biased as in there wasn’t some kind of group opinion forming as people started talking, that other people later did not want to go against. And sometimes there are weird group dynamics at play when people start off negatively and everybody just keeps piling on…

Letter to myself

Another method I quite like: asking students to write a letter to themselves where they reflect on what they learned. This can happen virtually as an email, and I’ve even used it in in-person workshops on paper, where people then put it in a sealed envelope and we sent it out to them a couple of weeks later. I really liked getting those letters from former me, especially when I had set goals or points to follow up on, and was reminded of them! The time delay there is quite useful (spaced repetition? ;-)) and also getting hand-written mail (even if written by myself) is always nice…

Five finger feedback

Five finger feedback can be done in in-person workshops, but also virtually (for example in a table with five columns where everybody notes down their comments).

1) The thumb. What went well? 2) The index finger. What could be improved? 3) The middle finger. What went wrong? Negative feedback. 4) The ring finger. What would we like to keep? 5) The pinkie finger. What did not get enough attention?

In in-person settings, this tends to take a looong time, and also put too much pressure on participants to make me feel comfortable, but I can see this working a lot better online!

Packing my bags

This is another fun method to look at what students want to remember from a lesson: Having a graphic of a suitcase or bag, and then adding sticky notes with the things students want to take away from the workshop. Works offline as well as online! But then it’s not really different from minute papers etc, so maybe use it to spice things up occasionally. Or, if you use it regularly, seeing the graphic of the luggage might already act as trigger for students so they start on the task, without you having to remind them. That might actually also work well!

Coming up with exam questions

Always a great method: Asking students to come up with good exam questions. They can then be discussed in small groups or with the large group, used as exercises practicing for the exam, or even used in the final exam!

But beware: Coming up with good exam questions is really difficult and students might need a lot of guidance, for example discussing a grading rubric and what kind of knowledge and skill should be able to be shown by completing an exam question. And I would always also ask them to provide the solution with the question, otherwise it is really difficult for students to get a good idea of how difficult or easy a question is (usually they become super difficult if students try to make them interesting).

That’s it for now about E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden 2 go online!“! There are plenty more where these came from, would you be interested in reading about more?

#Methods2Go: Transferring theoretical ideas into actionable knowledge in university teaching

More methods today, inspired by E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden 2 go online!“! Today:


Battle of theories

The idea in this method is that students asynchronously read up on certain theories and prepare to defend them against other theories. In a video call, a handful of students than “battle” while the rest takes on roles like referee or note-taker.

What I like about the method: That there are valid roles for the students who aren’t actively “batteling” so they are actively included in what’s going on. Even better if they can choose the roles they are taking on.

What i dislike about the method: I would personally HATE having to play one of the active roles in the battle, and would be super stressed out that for some reason I might be called to do it. And even the thought stresses me out so much that I wouldn’t use this with my students.

But on the subject of taking on roles:

Thinking hats

If students are asked to argue from specific points of views (e.g. advantages, disadvantages, costs, benefits, …), this can be supported by temporarily changing their names in the video call system. This might make it easier to act from a certain role’s point of view because it is very clear that it’s not a personal standpoint? I definitely like the idea of clarifying roles with help of screen names!

Marketplace / vernissage

Similarly to “gallery walks“, market places are something that I really like in virtual teaching. Student artefacts (be it posters, articles, memes, videos, …) are shared in a padlet or on some other platform, and students then asynchronously look at everybody else’s work and give feedback.

Depending on the group of students you are working with, and on whether they are used to the format, they might need some rules and/or guidance around how to do it, i.e. what kind of comments you are expecting and something like “everybody needs to leave at least 2 comments in such a way that every artefact receives at least 2 comments. You can leave more if you like”…

Minute paper

Oldie but goldie — students get one minute to write down any open questions and everything they want to remember. Combine it with a lightening storm in the chat or ask them to write it in some kind of shared document, and you’ll see what everybody wrote, have a documentation of it, and students can even compare notes & learn from each other!

That’s it for today! Next #TeachingTuesday we’ll be back with method ideas for evaluation!

#Methods2Go: Methods for “informing” students in university classes

More methods today, inspired by E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden 2 go online!“! Today:


“Informing” in quotation marks, because that’s what that phase is called in the AVIVO model which underlies the structure of the Methoden 2 go online! collection by EM Schumacher, in other models the same phase might be called something that implies more student activity, like “acquiring new knowledge” or similar. Anyway, here we go:

Building a cognitive map

I’m a very visual thinker, so building cognitive maps is something I do a lot myself and like to encourage in my students, too. Below is an example of a concept map I asked students to draw before day 1 (left half) and day 9 (right half) of a course I was teaching. I can very well imagine asking students to use the last minute of a lecture (or maybe the first minute of a break in each lecture) to add to their concept maps over time. In the case shown below, the difference between what students expected to learn about going into the class and then what they learned about was quite interesting (and also maybe a function of “oceanography” usually being associated more with marine life than with physics), but students were quite proud of the complex maps that formed over the relatively short period of only two weeks, and it was a great way not only to visualise the concepts and how they connect to each other, but also how much they learned in such a short time!

The suggestion in “Methods 2 go online!” is that the teacher presents a mind map of the topics of the course, and that’s definitely also helpful for students to see how what they are about to learn connects to last week or the week before (as suggested in the advanced organiser paragraph here). But I like involving students in the activity, too!

Learning-speed duo

I wrote about this method here already (and how one might implement it virtually), and now I read the suggestions for virtual implementations: Doing the first phase (where two halves of the class read different texts or work on different exercises) asynchronously and then just asking mixed pairs to virtually meet up to discuss their respective texts. This also works well, of course!

I feel like this is a very short blog post, but then this topic is so huuuge that maybe starting small is actually the way to go. There are tons of other methods that I have talked about in other places, like for example group puzzles, but I’ll get back with more later!

That’s it for today! Next #TeachingTuesday we’ll be back with methods for “converting”!

#Methods2Go: Methods for assessing previous knowledge in university classes

More methods today, inspired by E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden 2 go online!“! Today:

Assessing previous knowledge


Using a virtual voting tool or a tool that allows for very short free-text answers to assess previous knowledge before class starts (or at the very beginning of class) is great for many reasons. Doing a “test” right before (or the night before) class helps you prepare for class, because you have a pretty accurate idea of what students know and don’t know, so you might include a summary of older content or launch right into something new, knowing that you are meeting students in a good spot. “Testing” at the beginning of a class activates prior knowledge and gets students focussed on the topic of class (as well as informing you about where students are at), but it doesn’t give you time to do major tweaks to the planned program.

I write “testing” in quotation marks, because the word sometimes implies that it something is part of the assessment. In this case, it can also just be part of the learning process, providing formative feedback. Or you could give it a tiny number of points and have all pre-tests sum up to something like 5% of the grade — enough to make students want to participate and not just throw away the oppotunity to earn points, but not enough to put actual pressure on students.

Advance organiser

An advanced organizer is usually a visualization of important topics (e.g. as a concept map) to help students organise information and gain orientation of where they are at with respect to all that will happen throughout a semester. It could also just be a table of content if you aren’t feeling fancy. In any case, it’s good to show one to students in the beginning and talk about how topics relate to each other and how much time you are estimating each one will take, and it’s even better when revisited regularly, including updated information if the content or time planning has changed.

A-Z of a topic

The idea behind an “A-Z” of a topic is to find a relevant term for every letter of the alphabet, and describe what it means and how it’s relevant for the topic. I’ve seen those on scicomm Instagram a lot (for example @scied_alice did one on physics, randomly linking here to D for “Doppler effect”), and I can imagine them well in teaching — both to activate previous knowledge on a topic and towards the end of the semester to consolidate all the new information. These are fun, and maybe even more so if you can include them in some kind of social forum — sharing them on social media, or starting off each lesson by presenting one letter that a group prepared for that day. If there is no fun social aspect, this might feel a bit like kindergarden busywork. But I guess that’s the same for most methods: A method is only as good as the way you implement it!

That’s it for today! Next #TeachingTuesday we’ll be back with methods for “informing” students!

#Methods2Go: Methods for “arriving” in class, i.e. getting to know people & raising interest

Remember my recent #Methods2Go blog posts, inspired by E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden to go”? There is more! She kindly sent me the new “Methoden 2 go online!“* — bringing us tons of methods that are adapted for online use!

*this is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own

This set of flashcards is structured in two parts: The first one presenting a lot of model using the AVIVA model (which gives five phases of a teaching unit: Arriving, assessing preVious knowledge, Informing, conVerting, evAluating (This works a lot better in German ;-)), and the second one listing interesting virtual learning tools. As already with “Methoden to go”, it’s a lot of fun to flip through and inspires thought!

Let’s get started, today with:


Voting by covering the camera

Students use little pieces of paper (or their thumbs) to cover the camera to signal “no” as a response to a question, or leave the camera open (and thus their faces visible) to signal “yes”. This is great for a very quick vote on things, but also for students getting to know each other and finding out similarities (for example where they live, who has previous knowledge on or experience with what topic, …).

Awaking interest

I described the idea behind the “awaking interest” method in this blog post — this works just as well online as offline!

Feedback and interaction cards

The idea here is that teachers send out a file with symbols that students print and then use to hold up in front of the camera in response to questions (so a little bit like my ABCD cards, except with more symbols). At first, I thought this was a bit silly — almost all video meeting platforms do have chats and those “raise hand” buttons etc, but on the other hand I’ve been in plenty of meetings where messages in the chat and raised hands went unnoticed, so maybe holding something up in front of the camera is worth a try? Still seems like overkill to me to send out something that students have to print (also because I don’t have a printer at home and know how annoying it is if you need something printed during a pandemic), but maybe telling students that if they hold up a piece of paper with a questionmark on it, you will know they want to ask something rather than them just stretching? Might be worth a try!

“Wanted” poster

In order for you to get to know students and them getting to know each other, it might be a good idea to ask them for a couple of key facts about themselves, and to ask them to fill those in for example in a shared google slides doc, or whatever learning management system you are using. One question I like to ask students is to present their nerd topics (more about that here). Of course, it’s important to then make time to look through all those different presentations and acknowlege both the effort they went to and the content they put there. Otherwise you are sending a pretty strong signal that you don’t actually care as much about them as you pretended to when you gave this task…

Getting to know people via their virtual backgrounds

Ask students to set their virtual backgrounds to pictures that are meaningful to them, then let them talk about why it’s meaningful. I like this idea! I like to ask students to present their nerd topics, and while I usually ask them to post the pictures for that in a shared google slides document, for larger groups it could be useful if students kept the picture they talked about as virtual background so it’s easier to connect the topics with the names and faces.

P.S.: I am usually a proponent of avoiding virtual backgrounds as a teacher so as to not give students the impression that you try to hide as much of yourself from them as possible, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be useful sometimes ;-)

That’s it for today! Next #TeachingTuesday: Methods for assessing previous knowledge!

#Methods2Go: methods to end lessons with in university teaching

Another method idea from E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden to go” pool of suggestions!

Today: a method to end a lesson with.

Cheat sheet

I’m pretty confident that anyone who has ever written a really good cheat sheet will not actually need it to cheat with later on. Putting together all the relevant information is a condensed manner is such a great way of thinking it through that learning is practically inevitable. So asking students to write a cheat sheet is a great method! I’ve heard of many colleagues who let students bring in one piece of paper (A4, or some other specified size) on which students can write anything they think will help them with the exam, and the experience seems to always be that student preparation is excellent. And even if students need to look up something from their cheat cheet (for example to make sure they remember an equation correctly) — what’s the harm in that? Then they had already recognized that this was an important equation to write down and remember that they had written it down.

What other methods do you like to end your lessons with?

That’s it, those were my thoughts on “Methoden to go” by E.-M. Schumacher! But, luckily, she just brought out a new product, Methoden 2 go online!, with which we’ll continue next #TeachingTuesday!

#Methods2Go: Methods to secure results in university teaching

More method ideas from E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden to go” pool of suggestions!

Today: methods to secure results.

Learning walk

I’ve been using plenty of virtual “gallery walkes” recently, where students have worked on a joint google slides document (either each on their own slide, or each group on their own slide) and we then go through those slides together. There are several ways to do this walk — either students go through the slide deck on their own or with their groups, potentially discussing things and leaving comments, or we go through all the slides together and talk about them with the large group. But obviously, something similar works really well in in-person meetings, too (and that’s where the method originally came from).

In a “learning walk” (or gallery walk), visualized key results are put up throughout a room and students walk from one to the next to recapitulate the ideas. They could be guided by a specific question (probably a good idea) or just use this as an opportunity to recap everything they learned so far.

I can imagine this really well at the end of a semester, with key graphics on display (possibly without captions) and the task to make sure that everybody can explain all of the graphics. I would then encourage students to talk to each other, or even to leave notes with key points, thus co-creating the explanations for the key graphics. I might start out with having small groups work on a first draft for each of the graphics, and then open that up for peer feedback + additional points being added throughout the duration of the learning walk.

Learning diary

In a learning diary, students document their learning process. This can happen as part of an assessment, or formative feedback, or without ever showing it to a teacher. What I like about learning diaries is the more or less continuous documentation of the learning process, and I think it’s a helpful and motivating routine to take on, and also great to make sure notes stay in one place and easily accessible.

I have used what I thought of as “lab books” (but which is basically a learning diary) for many years now, and that’s exactly how I use them: To have all my notes in one place. On talks I’ve attended, workshops I’ve joined, articles I have read, goals I have set, tasks I have worked on (sometimes I set the first double page up as a Kanban board with the columns “waiting”, “to do”, “doing”, “done”, and post small sticky notes to the respective places, and then once a month I put all the “done” notes on a page for that month, thus creating an archive of what I achieved that month. Super satisfying, because usually this stuff does not become tangible that way!).

I’m using actual paper books for this (and I don’t see that changing anytime soon — commitments made on paper make me feel a lot more committed to them than if I just type something, and also I remember my notes by where something was on a page, what pen I used, and other similar pointers), but I am sure there are plenty of virtual methods that might work just as well or even better for others.

Structural mapping technique

A teacher provides flashcards or sticky notes with key terms, students use them to map out connections on a large piece of paper. It’s as easy as it sounds, but great for students to discuss relations between terms, maybe adding others that they need to bridge “long distances” or that they think are important to include.

I like the idea of students representing structures of concepts not just by describing them with words, but by how they sort them in space. It makes discussions a lot easier because miscommunication becomes more obvious when there are physical representation of a shared (or not) understanding.


Throughout the semester, difficult and/or technical terms are collected and explanations for those terms are written in a shared document, either by individual students taking turns, by small groups, or by the whole class. Those terms and corresponding explanations are collected and distributed to everybody to use as glossary in preparation for the exam, or just for future reference. Love this as a co-created product of shared understanding!

That’s it for today! We’ll continue next #TeachingTuesday with “methods to end a lesson with”.

What other methods do you like to secure results at the end of a lesson?

#Methods2Go: methods to facilitate knowledge application in university teaching

Another method idea from E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden to go” pool of suggestions!

Today: a method to apply knowledge.

Application cards

I really like the idea behind “application cards”: the teacher writes a theory, technical term or other important keyword on one side of flashcards, students then come up with an application, a concrete example or somewhere where they would encounter this in their everyday lives, and write it on the other side.

This very basic idea of matching some theoretical construct with its concrete, experience-able manifestation is so useful and something we forget too often!

My favourite example: Hydraulic jumps! Sound horriby theoretical until you start discovering them everywhere: In rivers, you sink when doing the dishes, when washing the car…

That’s it for today! We’ll continue next #TeachingTuesday with “methods to secure results”.

What other methods do you like to fascilitate application of knowledge?

#Methods2Go: methods to facilitate discussion in university teaching

More method ideas from E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden to go” pool of suggestions!

Today: methods to discuss content.


The idea of using an “amplifier” is really simple: after a mini lecture, students are asked to write questions on what they just heard on a piece of paper and hand it to a “lead-learner” or “amplifier”, who then asks those questions for everybody else. This lowers the threshold of asking questions, because they become anonymous and nobody has to worry about potentially looking stupid.

On the other hand, students also don’t practice speaking up and asking questions, so it might be good to have an exit plan for this method; i.e. only use this method for the first couple of lectures until students have gotten confident with asking questions in that format and have gained confidence that they won’t be ridiculed for their questions. As a next step, you could then do something like think-pair-share (where students still have the lower threshold of not asking questions in front of a large group, and but practice first in the pair, and then when someone speaks for the pair, they are at least not only speaking for themselves. And once students have gotten good at asking questions that way, maybe they are ready to just ask questions without any extra method, only maybe a little encouragement from the teacher’s side.

Silent discussion

This method I thought was funny: A question or statement is written on a poster and students add their comments in writing, without speaking. That’s basically what we’ve been doing for the last year and a half with discussion forums online! But what’s interesting is that what people love to hate online actually might not be all bad. There are clear advantages of occasionally writing things down instead of always communicating verbally: shy students might get the opportunity to participate more easily, thoughts are documented and can be referred to more easily no matter what other thoughts were brought up later, a documentation of the whole discussion is easily available. So enjoy this positive spin on discussion forums! :)

That’s it for today! We’ll continue next #TeachingTuesday with “methods to apply knowledge”.

What other methods do you like to facilitate discussion?

#Methods2Go: university teaching methods for acquring knowledge

More method ideas from E.-M. Schumacher’s “Methoden to go” pool of suggestions!

Today: methods to acquire knowledge.

Learning-speed duo

The “learning-speed duo” method works like this: The group is split into two, and everybody in each of the two sub-group gets the same text to read (or exercise to work on) individually. When people finish the task, they (non-verbally!) signal to the teacher, who then pairs them up with someone from the other group who has finished their task, too. The two of them then explain to each other what they just read/learned/did.

I really like the idea behind this method that different learning tempos are taken care of so that fast students don’t just sit and wait for everybody else to finish. But this could potentially increase pre-existing inequalities when the “strongest” students get paired up first, and then pairs get “weaker” over time (obviously, speed is not the best indicator of “strength”, they might also be less careful). But still, it might appear to students that there is a hierarchy implied if attention is drawn to how fast they finish a task.

Also I wonder how much disturbance is introduced in the classroom when students have to physically relocate to form the new pairs, and then start discussing. So I am wondering if this method wouldn’t work much better online, when you initially have two breakout rooms (or even just assign two different tasks to everybody in your main room) and when students DM the instructor that they have finished the task, they are sent into breakout rooms with a partner who worked on the other task. As an instructor, you would need to coordinate this carefully, but I can see that working well without too much of a disruption to people still working on the initial task, and also without drawing a lot of attention to how fast someone is working.


I had heard of the sandwich method to give feedback (not a fan — I very much prefer the continue-start-stop method!), but wasn’t aware of this method of the same name!

For this sandwich, the teacher presents a task and asks students to think about how that task could be solved. Student suggestions for what methods could be used or how one would start working on the task are collected. This is the bottom bun, the base of the sandwich.

The teacher then explains whatever they think needs to be explained in order to solve the task: theories, methods, ways to calculate certain things, … This is the salad, cheese or whatever other interesting stuff inside the sandwich.

Students then use this to actually do the task: this is the top of the sandwich.

What I like about this method is the suggestion of explicitly giving students room to brainstorm and discuss ways to approach and solve a task before students start working on it; making sure that everybody has the necessary background information and clues to start working on it, rather than discussing all of this after students were supposed to have solved it (when some students are demotivated already because they couldn’t do it, and others don’t need that discussion any more because they had already successfully done it).

That’s it for today! We’ll continue next #TeachingTuesday with “methods to discuss content”.

What other methods do you like for fascilitating knowledge acquisition?