This is one possible ungraded written in-class activity or if not in class then as a discussion board entry. This exercise not only enhances comprehension, but also writing skills, and can provide you with valuable written feedback. Used at the end of the class, the one-sentence summary can be a good review of material just covered. At the beginning of the class, it can review material covered previously and serve as a starting point for the lecture of the day. The one-sentence summary can also be used in its own right to enhance general writing ability.
- Objective is for students to state the major point of an entire lecture or section in a limited amount of writing.
- Select a recent issue covered in class, in relation to that issue, answer the following questions as quickly as possible in front of your students: “who did what to whom, when, where, how, and why?” and turn your answer into a grammatical sentence.
- Announce another, similar topic to your students and give them five minutes or so to produce their own one-sentence summaries.
- Collect these to determine if students recognized the key points of the lecture. One optional extension is to have students swap with the person next to them – have a few minutes’ silence for reading and formulation of comments, then a few minutes of discussion in pairs before discussing the summaries as a class.
An "open book examination" is an assessment method designed in a way that allows students to refer to either class notes and summaries or a “memory aid”, textbooks, or other approved material while answering questions. An open book exam can also mean that students are provided with the exam questions prior to sitting the formal exam or are to complete as a ‘takehome’ exam.
(A Guide for Academics - Open Book Exams, the Centre for Teaching and Learning, the University of Newcastle Australia)
Short written assessments offer many of the same benefits as one-sentence summaries. They reduce grading time for instructors and can enable students to link course content to real-world contexts.
In one example from McGill University, an instructor assigns three assignments of 250 words as part of their assessment strategy. Read more.