Exit Tickets: Understanding students, adapting instruction and addressing equity

Kelsie Fowler, Mark Windschitl and Jennifer Richards

January 5, 2019


This research explored the use of exit tickets in order to identify best practices for designing, analyzing, and then acting on these assessments. Researchers posed a variety of exit ticket types, using their own questions.  Upon reviewing the data, it was found the responses to be extremely useful.  More specifically, they identified a high level of honesty from students, areas for improvement, and recognised students that needed additional support.  Recommendations for future implementation included: involving students in the process, making questions as clear as possible, using technology, and framing questions in a relevant and timely manner.  

Research Objectives

Fowler, Windschitl and Richards aimed to identify how exit tickets can be used to:

  • Respond to ever-changing classroom needs
  • Adapt lessons
  • Nurture student self-reflection 
  • Increase student ownership of learning
  • Build a teaching practice responsive to learners’ needs

Research Methodology

The study involved 13 middle and high school science teachers from a variety of science disciplines.  Each teacher chose from a number of exit tickets, including: 

  • Understandings concepts or practices
  • Students’ knowledge from outside of school
  • Self-reported participation or preparedness
  • Teacher or lesson feedback

The teachers created specific prompts, collected student responses and analysed the feedback.

They were encouraged to predict student responses, and to reflect on the following questions:

  • What patterns do I see? 
  • How would I change the formatting of the exit ticket or what I ask for?
  • What am I going to do about what I see? 
  • How will I respond to this information in a way that is visible and empowering to students?


Teachers identified that students felt heard, and shared ownership of the learning.  The honesty of students’ responses was recognised and appreciated.

They also found that the responses highlighted students that required targeted support.  The exit tickets indicated what students knew and what they wanted more instruction on. 

Some teachers recognised that the questions they posed lacked clarity and required further refinement in future iterations. 


The research identified generalised criteria for designing and administering effective exit tickets, including:

  • Keeping them short and targeted - no more than one or two questions
  • Being precise with the language used
  • Explaining the rationale for collecting the information
  • Connecting to that day’s learning experiences
  • Promoting open ended questions for more meaningful responses
  • Varying question format depending on student needs
  • Implementing at the beginning, middle and end of a lesson to measure the evolution of student thinking
  • Using online exit tickets to reduce sorting time


FOWLER, KELSIE, MARK WINDSCHITL, and JENNIFER RICHARDS. “Exit Tickets: Understanding Students, Adapting Instruction, and Addressing Equity.” The Science Teacher 86, no. 8 (2019): 18–26.

Black P., and Wiliam D. 1998. Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan 80 (2): 139–148.

Ladson-Billings G. 1995. Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal 32 (3): 465–491.

Marshall K. 2018. In praise of assessment (done right). Phi Delta Kappan 99 (6): 54–59.

OECD Center for Education Research and Innovation (CERI). 2005. Formative assessment: Improving learning in secondary classrooms. .

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