Simple AfL checks (and hinge questions)

I read this tweet today about simple (and short) AfL activities that allow you to check understanding before moving on. I find these kinds of activites very useful. You can read more about hinge questions here or see Dylan William talking about them here. And we have collected more links here. But I thought I’d also collate a few ideas here that I use.

Multiple choice questions

I use MCQs in all sorts of ways. For example, as starters, as hinge questions or as homeworks.

  • Starters are usually self-marked, but I then ask for feedback from the class, so I know which questions students had trouble with.
  • For hinge-quesions, I’ll often use ABCD cards (these can be made very quickly with a sheet of paper ripped into 4 pieces, if you don’t have them already made up!).
  • If I set MCQs for homework, I’ll often ask students to submit their answers the day before then next lesson (by email or via Google Forms). This is most straightforward for smaller groups, such as A level groups. It allows me to identify troublesome concepts, and plan for them, when I’m preparing for the next lesson.

There’s a wide range of sources of MCQs, for example past exam papers, textbooks and old O level resources. But this site is especially dedicated to them, and it’s where this example comes from:


Venn diagrams

I love these, as they’re simple to set up, and they help students to make connections between different aspects of a topic. Here is an example of one I made:


Simple starters and quick checks

Match descriptions with pictures. Simple to set up, straightforward to complete, but great for drawing out misconceptions:


True/false type questions. Again, easy to produce, provokes discussion (especially sulphur hexafluoride in this example…) and not too time-consuming within the lesson itself:


Question design

The most important thing, for me, when designing any of these activities is to think about what I’m trying to find out, what the misconceptions might be, and what I will do when I’ve found out what students know (or don’t know). As a Chemistry teacher, I’ve found the RSC misconceptions literature very helpful when I’m designing questions and activites. I would say this is the area that I put the most work into now when I’m planning a lesson.




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