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Students raise their hands in a college classroom.

Professors can gauge student learning and comprehension with an exit ticket activity at the end of their classes.

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In two to three minutes, professors can improve their classroom experiences and better support the academic success of their students by assigning students to complete an exit ticket.

An exit ticket is “a brief activity completed at the end of class that can serve to gauge student learning, improve student metacognition and provide some targeted feedback about students’ experience in the class period,” according to Boston College’s Center for Teaching Excellence.

Inside Higher Ed collected key strategies professors should consider when creating and delivering exit ticket assignments.

Why use an exit ticket: The exit ticket can create a cycle of feedback, in which the professor collects information, acts on it and continues to collect additional intel to build trust and increase student engagement, learning and belonging. Exit tickets can also serve as assessments to encourage students to reflect, connect content and address misconceptions in the material, particularly among online learners.

According to research findings published in 2016 in Insight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 88 percent of the time exit tickets were used in college courses, faculty indicated they were beneficial to them as instructors. Researchers also found instructors were affirmed or challenged to change their instructional strategies, and that exit tickets helped them identify the needs of the learner.

An exit ticket can also be an easy way to touch base with many students at one time. A spring 2023 Student Voice survey by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse found two in five students want professors to set clearer expectations in the classroom, and around one-third of students want their professors to get to know them more.

Consider your prompt: Before establishing an exit ticket in class, professors should ask themselves, what are you trying to learn from the students?

Exit tickets can:

  • Gauge student learning. (Score yourself on 0-to-3 scale on your understanding of today’s lesson. Select the correct answer from today’s lesson. Write and answer your own question from today’s concept.)  
  • Stimulate student self-analysis. (How hard did you work today? What do you think we accomplished in the small group activity?)  
  • Collect feedback on instructional strategies. (How well did the video improve your learning? Did you enjoy working as a group. Why or why not? Do you think all participants were able to contribute to the seminar discussion?)
  • Create an open communication line to the professor. (What can I be doing to help you in this course?)  

Brown University’s Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning provides sample exit tickets for inspiration. The resource reminds professors that exit tickets should be short prompts, able to be completed in the last few minutes of class without much outside help.

Implementation: Exit tickets, depending on a professor’s goal, can also be delivered in a wide variety of ways. Here are some factors to consider in implementation:

  • How frequently? Regular exit ticket assignments can become habit for students, but they can also become burdensome if too repetitive and an extra task for the instructor to create unique prompts every week.
  • Is it anonymous? An anonymous ticket allows students to answer with the greatest level of honesty, however, it makes it difficult to address specific questions or concerns raised in an exit ticket.
  • Is it graded? An exit ticket can stand in for an attendance sheet, giving professors a record that the student was present during the course. Boston College’s CTE suggests making tickets ungraded or pass-fail to lower student stress around content.  
  • Is it virtual? Salisbury University shares that professors can collect exit tickets on an index card, a small piece of paper or through a student polling system. Virtually, exit tickets can be integrated into a learning management system, linked as a form on Zoom, added to slideshow presentations or more. Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education recommends faculty members add a survey link into Canvas Modules under the “After class” portion.  
  • When is it due? Students can be required to submit their ticket before leaving the room for an in-person course or before the end of the day for an asynchronous course. An exit ticket should gauge what a student knows and feels immediately following the lesson, so sooner is better.

Closing the circle: One of the key components of an exit ticket’s success is responding to the comments and questions provided by students to improve the learning experience.

Faculty members can address all questions in an email, course announcement or at the start of the next class. If students are not answering anonymously, professors can also reach out to provide one-on-one support.

Do you have an academic success tip that might help others encourage student success? Tell us about it.

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