3:2:1 prompting

Setting clear expectations is crucial in online writing activities.  Vague instructions can bring vague results.  Asking students to ‘post any questions you may have’ to a discussion forum or a live session results in uneven engagement at best, digital tumbleweed at worst.

A 3:2:1 prompt helps students structure their responses to a lecture, text, audio track or video recording by asking them to describe, for example:

3 main points
2 interesting observations
1 question

A simple 3:2:1 structure has many benefits:

  • provides clarity and structure, and can help kickstart discussions.
  • informs students how to engage with learning content
  • encourages close reading
  • helps pose questions to increase students own learning, and that of their peers
  • informs lecturers where there may be engagement issues, misconceptions or need for additional  teaching

Alternative questions

Other, discipline specific formats can be used:

3 words that capture the essence of a written piece
2 questions you would like to ask the author
1 metaphor, similie or analogy that expresses the essence of the writing

A critical thinking exercise based around a journal article might require students to produce:

3 points made in the article that you agree with and why
2 points in the article that you disagree with – and counter arguments challenging them
1 example of how the article author might respond to one of the counter arguments

or where some pre-seminar reading and preparation is required:

3 clarifying questions that the reading does/does not address
2 questions that explore connections to previous learning
1 question that explores the implications of the author’s reasoning

Where to use this
  1. In Moodle discussion forums – particularly in Q&A forums where students cannot see posts by their peers until they themselves have posted something.
  2. As a breakout, buzz-group, or independent activity during a live MS Teams session
  3. In a Turnitin PeerMark activity, where students can apply it to the work of their peers
  4. In a Padlet activity
  5. In the comments section of Panopto videos
  6. In social annotation activities.  We do not yet have a social annotation service in place but are piloting the use of Talis Elevate.

Posted by Martin King

Senior Learning Technologist; MOOC Producer; Moodle, Turnitin, Grademark, Peermark, Panopto, Turning Technologies expert.

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