Learner Engagement: Prediction Activities


Prediction activities incorporate questions that actively draw on existing skills and knowledge. Asking a participant to predict an answer promotes pausing, thinking, and connecting information. The participant engaged more deeply with the content, regardless of the prediction being correct or incorrect (Lang, 2021). A common example is a hypothesis than seeing the result to support the learners’ knowledge gaps or confirmations.



Getting Started

  • Goal:
    • Do you wish for participants to perform better on an upcoming exam, homework, discussion. Consider the purpose why and how prediction will support (not distract) from what you’re asking participants to do.
  • Prompt:
    • Consider open-ended and conceptual questions; versus, questions easily answered with a yes or no.
    • Promoting deeper thought will ask participants to pause, think and connect information.
  • Timing:
    • A combination or either:
      • Before a live session to prepare.
      • Beginning of a live session.
      • Before explaining the conclusion or finding during a lecture.
  • Logistics
    • Provide enough time to pause, think, and connect information.
    • Consider the amount of participants, session modality, and anonymous or note. This information can help identify what technology can best support the activity.
    • Doesn’t need to be graded because participation is the goal. 
  • Feedback:
    • Provide timely feedback to close the loop and avoid lingering misconceptions. For example, jump into the lesson, reveal polling answers, etc.


  • Pre-test
    • Before a live session, ask participants to complete an online pre-test. 
    • Consider: a Brightspace quiz or Google Form.
  • Brainstorm
    • At the beginning of a live session. Ask participants to list everything they know about the content area. Participants will draw on prior knowledge and share it with their instructor. This can be a useful starting point to address misconceptions.
    • Consider either:
      • A live small groups discussions with a whole class debrief.
      • Asynchronous discussion in Brightspace.
      • A short answer poll (Poll Everywhere or Zoom polling)
  • Open and Closing Predictions
    • While teaching, pause before starting the session, next topic, or conclusion. Ask participants to predict either:
      • How do you think today’s content will connect to the last lecture?
      • Before I explain the result, what do you think will happen next?
      • Consider using more specific prediction questions building off your content area. 
  • Prediction-Exposure-Feedback
    • Participants are exposed to a simulation of a real event, participants predict the results, and receive timely feedback.
      • E.g. lab, scenario role playing activity, drag and drop of a model, art demonstration, video quiz with pauses, etc.




Lang, J. (2021). Small teaching: Everyday lessons from the science of learning. John Wiley & Sons.

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