Assessment for Learning

Hinge Point Questions

Hinge Point Questions are diagnostic questions asked at the point in the lesson called the 'hinge' where you need to check if your students are ready to move on. The responses give ou evidence about what you and your students need to do next.

What is a hinge point question?

  • they are used during the learning to check understanding of key ideas and/or concepts so the teacher can decide next steps.

  • all students can realistically respond less than two minutes, ideally in less than 1 minute.

  • teacher can realistically view and interpret all student responses in thirty seconds. 

  • multiple correct answers are included to make it difficult for students to get the correct answer for the wrong reason.

  • the incorrect distractor answers have been purposefully chosen and they link to alternative conceptions or ideas.

  • questions are structured so that students cannot spot the right or wrong answers.

What a good Hinge Point Question looks like

  • Example - Secondary Science

    Which of these is/are a molecule:

    Salt (Sodium Chloride)
    Carbon Dioxide
    Iron Oxide
    Oxygen
    Water

What makes this a good hinge point question?


• there are multiple correct answers.
• there are multiple incorrect answers which have been chosen as this is where a common alternative conception about the idea exists
• it would not be easy to guess the two correct responses (2, 4 and 5), and different combinations of answers would point to students having different kinds of misconceptions
• the students can respond in less than two minutes and the teacher could quickly decide from responses who did or did not understand the concept
• molecules are an area of science many students get confused about.

  • Example - Primary Maths

    In which of the following diagrams is one-fourth of the total area shaded? 



     

What makes this a good hinge point question?

 

• there are multiple correct answers.
• it would not be easy to guess the three correct responses (A, B and D), and different combinations of answers would point to students having different kinds of misconceptions about fractions 
• students have alternative ideas about fractions.
• the students can respond in less than two minutes and the teacher could quickly decide from responses who did or did not understand the concept

 

Now you try

There are 3 key steps to developing your own effective hinge point questions.

Identifying misconceptions

There are a number of places you can get support with identifying the misconceptions:

• You could use examiner reports from exams or SATs.

• Your own student ideas from in lessons activities, test answers or out of lessons activities (such as homework).

•  This is also a wealth of online resources which you could use.

Examples

Collecting Answers

The most important thing is that the students can reply quickly and the teacher can make sense of replies in a short time so as not to interrupt the learning.

There are a range of ideas and all have benefits and limitations. Ideas include:
• Finger voting. 
• Mini white boards.
• ABCD cards. 
Plickers. 
Socrative. 
Kahoot. 

 Responding to the evidence

There are a wide number of ways you can respond as a teacher to the evidence elicited from using HPQs, some of these include:

If all the class show they understand the concept, move on in the teaching.

If there is a mixture of those that understood and did not understand the concept:
• move the ones who understood on and do additional support work with those that didn’t understand.
• get those that understood to work in groups and explain/teach those that didn’t.
• get those that understood to apply their learning in different contexts/produce their own examples using the idea, whilst supporting those that did not understand.
• have consolidation/challenging questions ready and regroup the room to allow students to discuss ideas in small groups.
• use different out of class learning to either consolidate or challenge depending on answers.

If no one understood the concept, plan to teach the idea in a different way to the first time.

More examples of Hinge Point Questions

If you would like to find out more about assessment for learning, take a look at our online CPD courses.