Using Exit Tickets to Check in with Students and Foster Learning

Using Exit Tickets to Check in with Students and Foster Learning

Fall 2021
Hyeyoung Park
Hyeyoung Park
Area of Study
College of Nursing
Email Address

As instructors we need to know whether our students understand what we want them to take away from a lesson. Simply asking students if they have any questions often doesn’t yield many responses. Hyeyoung Park, Assistant Professor in the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing, uses exit tickets as an informal Classroom Assessment Technique (CAT), which provides her with important feedback from her students, while also fostering connections with her students and prompting her students to reflect on their learning. Read what she told us about using exit tickets. 

What are exit tickets?  

The exit ticket is a "permit to leave" that contains a few questions about the course content for that day that students answer before they leave the class each day. Exit tickets allow an instructor to gauge students' understanding of the content, provide opportunities for students to provide feedback about the course and the instructor’s teaching, and encourage students to reflect on their learning and synthesize the day’s content.  

What are your reasons for asking your students to complete exit tickets? 

When the course that I teach moved to 100% online during the pandemic, I had difficulties connecting with students. There were limitations in interacting with students and assessing their understandings over Zoom. One of my colleagues introduced me to the idea of exit tickets. Even though we are back on campus this semester, there was a lot of uncertainty and concerns about how the in-person class during the pandemic can be done and how much wearing a mask during the class will affect my delivery and students’ understanding of the course content. So, I decided to use exit tickets in my class to improve communication with students. 

How do you collect and assess exit tickets? 

I use an online survey form for the exit ticket. After each class, I post the survey link to Blackboard and students are required to complete it by the end of the day. Initially, I posted an exit ticket once a week to review that week's contents. However, there have been many last-minute absences due to public health concerns, so I decided not to check students' attendance and instead post exit tickets for every class.  

Completion of the exit ticket is 15% of their grade. This grade replaces the attendance and class participation grade. Students get full points if they submit at least 15 exit tickets throughout the semester, so they can choose when to respond. 

What types of prompts do you give your students on the exit tickets? 

In my class, there are usually 3-5 questions on an exit ticket. The first question asks students to summarize the contents of that day. For example, I may ask them to write down the 3 most important things or the 3 most surprising things about the day’s content. Further questions are usually about the application of that day's content. For example, for one exit ticket I asked students to pick one of the social determinants we learned about today and share an example of how that disproportionally affected older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Then I asked students if there is anything they are unclear or puzzled about from the day’s topic. The last question asks if there's anything they want me to know, and this question is optional to answer.  

I sometimes make the exit tickets more informal, like asking students how many hours they slept last night or for a star rating on how they are doing right now. These past few semesters have been especially stressful for students and instructors, and I want to encourage self-care. Sometimes I write random facts about myself at the end of the exit ticket. Even though all I can see in class are students' eyes over their masks, I still feel like I am getting to know each of them better and we are creating a positive learning environment together. 

What would you say is the best thing about exit tickets? 

Exit tickets have become a great communication channel between me and my students. Although I invite students to ask questions during the class, usually not many questions are asked. However, when I go through the exit tickets, I get a better idea of where students are struggling with the content. I can assess their understanding and then start the next class with further explanations on a topic that was difficult for them. I am very excited that we are back on campus and meeting students in person, but the interactions between students and me are still limited compared to pre-pandemic times. I think exit tickets help to make up for these limited interactions with students. 

Can you share any examples of exit tickets and how your students responded?

After a lesson on Developmental Theories of Aging, I asked: Suppose you are tweeting what you learned today. What would you write for your tweet? (280 characters limit!). Here are some sample responses from my students: 

  • "Just turned 20! glad I'm no longer in the Identity vs. Role Confusion anymore!" 

  • "That moment when you finally reach self-actualization #topofthepyramid”  

  • "Don't know if I'll ever get past Erikson's 5th stage of development (Identity vs Role Confusion). Who am I?????????? " 

After a lesson on Biological Aging Theories, I asked: Among the theories that we discussed today, which theory of aging that you believe most strongly reflects your beliefs related to aging? Why? Here are some sample responses from my students: 

  • "The Wear and Tear theory because it seems the most logical in that over time, continuous use of the body systems and mechanisms would wear it down eventually." 

  • "The Endocrine Theory most strongly reflects my beliefs related to aging because hormone levels can drastically change an individual's appearance, the internal workings of the body, and more." 

What do your students say about exit tickets? 

I have had positive feedback on the exit tickets. Students have found it helpful, because an exit ticket makes them review and reflect on what they learned in class that day. Students also reported that tickets allowed them to assess their understanding of the content and ask questions if they have any. 

What tips do you have for other instructors who might consider using exit tickets with their students?  

I would suggest framing the tickets as a communication channel rather than another assignment for students; otherwise, these tickets will be a burden for students and instructors. I usually limit the word counts of answers and make the deadline that night, so even though it is not a physical exit ticket, it does not become additional work that piles up.  

I am using these tickets every day because I am no longer checking attendance and my TA helps me keep track of the students' submissions. So, the frequency and the contents of the exit ticket can be adjusted depending on the course contents and the context.