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ERIC Number: EJ1119560
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Nov
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Surprises in the Muddy Waters of High-Enrollment Courses
Keeler, Jessie M.; Koretsky, Milo D.
Journal of Chemical Education, v93 n11 p1830-1838 Nov 2016
Based on a previous analysis of student reflection responses, we developed and implemented a hybrid reflection activity that allowed students to choose among a "Muddiest Point" prompt or a "Most Surprised" prompt, or to use both. We examined and coded student responses from two different courses and determined that each prompt elicits different responses and provides unique benefits. As the term progressed, student responses to the Muddiest Point prompt increased and responses to Most Surprised decreased. The Muddiest Point allows students to more directly express where they are struggling in the course, and it allows instructors to see what concepts are most confusing for students. Alternatively, many students used the Most Surprised prompt to express things that were helpful, or in some cases harmful, for their learning process. The affective quality of the response also differed based on the prompt students selected; Muddiest Point responses were more often negative whereas Most Surprised responses were frequently positive. We recommend the hybrid prompt and argue that in addition to providing information about what specific course material is problematic for students, the reflection activity provides information about course structure and teaching practice and can be a useful early formative course evaluation tool for instructors. Because many students use the reflection questions to submit suggestions for ways to improve the course, an instructor who regularly reviews responses can adjust the structure of the course or their teaching practice accordingly.
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: DUE1347817