Muddiest Point


This quick and easy active learning activity asks students to identify the muddiest, or most confusing point in a lecture, class session, or assignment. By asking students to write this down and collecting their responses you can quickly identify the areas where your students are having difficulty. From there you can address those difficulties at the start of your next class. The effectiveness of this strategy hinges on addressing the muddiest points identified by the students. You can respond via email, your course management system, or with a short screencast or video.

Download: One Page Summary
  • Why It Works
  • Implementation
  • Video Exemplars
  • Research Evidence
  • Why It Works

    Why It Works

    This technique is effective because it:

    • Allows the instructor to identify areas of student confusion and address them in a timely manner

    • Encourages students to reflect on their own learning and articulate what they don’t understand

    • Helps instructors tailor supplementary resources to student needs

    • Addresses student identified areas of confusion in ways shown to result in improved performance for large lecture classes

    Timely responses to areas of difficulty can begin an ongoing dialog with students focused on mastering course content. 

  • Implementation


    1. At the end of a class session, share a google doc link or pass out notecards and ask each student to identify the muddiest point from that session.
    2. Collect the responses to identify the areas where students seem to be having difficulty.
    3. Address those areas of difficulty with additional resources: a mini-lecture, a discussion post, a quick narrated screencast, or links to outside resources.

  • Video Exemplars

    Video Exemplars

    Carlson, A. [Center for Instructional Innovation and Assessment]. (2010, January 5). Classroom Assessment Technique: Muddiest Point [Video file]. Retrieved from


  • Research Evidence

    Research Evidence

    Content Description: Read this for more detail about how to implement a muddiest point activity for your presentations.

    • Pinder-Grover, T., Green, K.R., Millunchick, J.M. (2011). The efficacy of screencasts to address diverse academic needs of students in a large lecture course. Advances in Engineering Education, Winter, 1 – 28.