Exit Slips and Feedback Revisited

Let’s face it . . . when we rely on tests to gather information about student learning, not only do students become test weary, the process of test development, marking, and providing feedback become the bane of any educator’s existence.

So what to do? We suggest mixing it up a bit with exit slips – but not the exit slips of old – at Beyond the Apple, we’ve re-imagined exit slips.

The purpose of an exit slip is to provide immediate information about a student’s thinking and learning. Using very few words or an image to share deep thinking is not only a rich source of information, it’s a valuable skill to cultivate.

Beyond the Apple Exit Slips (see sample below) are distributed in booklet form at the beginning of a unit of study. Their purpose is to provide the students with an opportunity to reflect on the course content, assigned readings, lectures, and discussions through multiple lenses. Each exit slip provides the instructor with ongoing information about each student’s understanding, questioning, or application of course content. At the end of the unit, the students have a completed booklet of their responses to and teacher feedback about the unit’s readings, discussions, and presentations.

Expectations for thoughtful responses are high and are established early in the course. Students know that the exit slip will be rated according to the following criteria.

Beyond the Apple’s Exit Slip Scoring Criteria

 A-/A/A+ Perceptive, Critical, Open

  • Strong evidence of thoughtful connections between text and colleagues’ ideas
  • Engaging and thoughtful responses to reading and / or others’ ideas
  • Insightful and thoughtful participation in discussions
  • Novel application of information
  • Personal insights appropriate to readings and discussions
  • Open minded response to the reading and/or topics raised by colleagues
  • Thoughtful queries that reflect a desire to investigate content through multiple lenses
  • Insightful connections to other topics

B/B+ Thoughtful, Thorough, Engaged

  • Strong evidence of connections between text and colleagues’ ideas
  • Reference to readings / and or others’ ideas where appropriate
  • Sustained active participation in discussions
  • Strong evidence of thoughtful reading of the articles
  • Engaged summation of content’s central points and conclusions
  • Responsive approach to questions
  • Appropriate references to readings, tied to discussion where appropriate

B- and below (Re-submission suggested)*

  • Content is viewed through a “correct”, focused or closed perspective
  • Surface level connections between text and /or others’ ideas and application of    information may be surface level
  • Minimal reference to readings
  • Some discussion of topic at a literal level; response reflects a summary of content
  • Questioning is surface level or literal
  • Minimal evidence of application of extension of content

*Expectations are high, so the benchmark for success is set at B. A mark of B- or lower is accompanied by a suggestion to resubmit. This has worked well for classes of up to 50.

Providing Feedback to Exit Slips

The instructor provides feedback in a variety of ways

1.Written or oral feedback / mark. The instructor’s comments reflect the wording of the scoring criteria (as shown above) and a letter grade is provided as confirmation. While students find this the most familiar form of feedback, they are quick to admit that feedback comments are seen as secondary to the mark and are often ignored. Writing feedback that may be ignored is not a good use of any instructor’s time.

2. Written or oral feedback / no mark. The instructor’s  comments reflect the wording of the scoring criteria. The student reads the feedback and should be able to determine the mark. At first, this approach troubles some students; they want verification of their mark. We’ve found that over time, they soon become familiar with the language of the scoring criteria and find the comments are sufficient.

3. Credit for completion: no mark is assigned, but credit is given for participation in the reading, discussion, or artistic representation. This approach values participation in discussion and sharing of ideas by making contributions to feedback conversations feel safe.

4. Sliding scale: A dot is placed on line below the student’s response. The placement of the dot reflects the expectations of the criteria listed above.


Basic Summary                                                                                                                                               Original Thinking

Students adapt to the sliding scale well. It is seen as easily interpret-able and less rigid than an alphabetic or numeric score.

But What About the Instructor’s Mark Book? How Are These Scores Recorded?

Since each form of feedback reflects the standards described above, the instructor indicates the feedback format used and records each assignment with a letter grade, ranging from A+ to RS (resubmission suggested). The exception to this is the credit for completion; a CR replaces the letter grade.

The template for the Beyond The Apple Exit Slips is below. Allow the students to choose which exit slip best reflects their learning on that day. To ensure a student responds using a variety of perspectives, limit the number of times one exit slip can be used.

One More Thing to Think About: Taking the Exit Out of Exit Slips

 Beyond the Apple’s exit slips can used in the middle or at the end of class. Here’s how to use them in the middle of a class:

  • Provide time (5-10 minutes) just before a break for the students to complete an exit slip.
  • During break, read through the comments and you’ll have a sense of what’s been accomplished, student questions, and possible misinterpretations of content. It’s a great source of information about all students AND about how well the lesson is proceeding.
  • Once aware of student comments, you may have to revisit or re-frame some of the content; this means flexibility has to be built into re-teaching. Tricky, but oh so worth it! When students know you value their input, they’re more likely to remain engaged.

Beyond the Apple’s Exit Slips (to be reproduced in booklet form)



Something in today’s discussion that resonated with me . . . .






I’d like to learn more about . . . (and how I’ll us that information)






I see this information as puzzle pieces fitting together in this manner (illustrate the puzzle pieces)








The reading / discussion shifted my thinking from . . . to . . .






This abstract representation captures my thinking about   . . .






I have difficulty understanding . . . and I need more information about . . .







Today’s information will be applied in my (work setting, life, classroom) by . . .






This information connects with the research ( or the recent news) about . . .







This story board reflects today’s group discussion . . .









The next thing I want to learn about is . . .







(Question from the student to the teacher) In your experience as a teacher, have you ever come across . . .







Turn and talk with a partner and then record the thoughts that made you adjust your thinking.









Student Choice:







Student Choice:







Student Choice:







About Beyond The Apple

Beyond the Apple provides everything a Professional Learning Community needs! Designed to follow Beyond the Apple's Tenets of Adult Education, our videos re-ignite the excitement of professional conversations among educators in the classroom, university, colleges and professional training. Our free teaching and learning resources provide a follow up with more information that is current, research based and practical.
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