Active Learning Online: Effective online communication - Muddiest Point


Use the "muddiest point" technique to gain insight to your students' learning and provide targeted instruction.


  • Models communication with online instructor
  • Responsive to student needs
  • Incentivizes reflection and question asking for ALL students
  • Condenses feedback to make whole-class interaction realistic
  • Reduces e-mail load
  • Creates connection with students
  • Feedback to the instructor about what is ‘working’
  • Reusable semester to semester, can become proactive help videos linked with the quizzes


  • Set up a Canvas quiz for each lesson, lecture, or week. This can be a short answer quiz, or one where you must attach an image that includes a screen shot of your muddiest point (quiz question or lecture slide).
  • Click through the submissions using the SpeedGrader and tally up the submissions by question category.
  • Pick the top 1-4 questions and make responses. This can be a written response, or a quick (~3 minute) VidGrid video for each one. Title each video in a way that students can easily sift through them and see which ones apply to what they need to know.
  • Send these out to the whole class in an announcement.

Recommended Resources & Links

Carberry, A., Krause, S., Ankeny, C., & Waters, C. (2013, October). “Unmuddying” course content using muddiest point reflections. In 2013 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) (pp. 937-942). IEEE.

Contact Information

Grace Troupe

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You could create a Canvas survey and ask students to select their muddiest points, which would eliminate some steps for both them and you and reduce your workload even more. You could also review the Canvas quiz statistics to see if there are common questions that students are getting incorrect.

What's the best way to anticipate what the students' muddiest points might be if you aren't leaving the questions open-ended?