Anticipation Guides

Although Anticipation Guides are similar to pre-questioning in both form and purpose – they encourage much the same kinds of skills – there are significant differences between the two approaches.

Anticipation Guide Templates

Where pre-questioning asks students to predict the answers to a set of questions they receive before being exposed to a lecture, video or reading, Anticipation Guides require students to think about the extent to which they agree or disagree with a small number of statements, typically 4 – 6, about a topic both before and after they study it. In addition, Anticipation Guides can be used to ask students to explain both their pre-learning and post-learning beliefs about a topic.

The objective of Anticipation Guides is, in this respect, both subtly different and worth trying for a range of reasons:

1. They encourage students to identify and explore their own preconceived ideas about a topic. This can be both objective (asking them to estimate a number, for example) or subjective (such as asking them about their beliefs).

2. They can be used to demonstrate how sociological thinking can be counter-intuitive to commonsense thinking.

3. They encourage students to be curious about their beliefs and whether or not these beliefs are confirmed or refuted by sociological evidence. Curiosity is also a very valuable quality to encourage in students.

4. They can be used to encourage students to make predictions about things they don’t know (such as how many crimes were committed last year) based on what they do know (their perception of the extent of crime in society). This kind of predictive learning can be a valuable skill because it enables students to reasonably speculate about something they may not have explicitly studied based on the knowledge they have about a related topic.

If, for example, students understand the general principles of a sociological perspective like functionalism or interactionism they should be able to broadly predict how functionalists or interactionists view institutions like the family or education system.

In general, therefore, Anticipation Guides are designed to:

  • Activate students’ prior knowledge about a topic.
  • Stimulate their curiosity about a topic both prior to and during explicit instruction / learning.
  • Check the extent to which students have understood a topic after receiving instruction.
  • Be flexible enough to encompass all kinds of learning situations, from group lectures to video learning and individual reading.

How To…

Creating Anticipation Guides for your students isn’t too difficult or time-consuming, but it does require a bit of work.

Let’s say you’re going to create an Anticipation Guide based on a video or lecture. The main thing you need to do is identify the key ideas, concepts or themes you want your students to understand. In basic terms, what are the things they really need to know? When you’ve identified these, you need to write a statement for each that relates in some way to the key idea. As a general rule you should try to write statements that:

  • Involve are a mixture of true, false or thought-provoking.
  • Support students existing understanding of, or beliefs about, an idea.
  • Challenge students existing understanding of, or beliefs about, an idea.

While there’s no hard-and-fast rule about the number of statements to include in a Guide, between 4 and 6 statements should be sufficient. As a basic rule-of-thumb, tailor your statements to the length and complexity of the materials to which they relate. You want to ensure you cover the key ideas in the materials without forcing students to spend so much time considering their response to the statements they lose track of what you want them to learn.


If you need a bit of guidance about how to construct statements I’ve put together some examples based on a couple of short video presentations, one for sociology the other for psychology. There are probably too many for the length of the content but I’ve included them just to give you an idea about the kind of statements you could create.


Situational Crime Prevention (6 minutes)

1. We should be trying to prevent crime rather than solve it.

2. Situational Crime Prevention involves making crime harder to commit.

3. Changing the physical environment can change criminal behaviour.

4. Making streets lighter at night increases crime by making it easier for offenders to see their targets.

5. Situational Crime Prevention is effective against all types of crime.

6. Making crime more difficult in one place just means it moves to another area close by.

7. Better street lighting means more people on the street and more crime because there are more potential victims.


Is Psychology a Science? [5 minutes)

1. Psychology is a science.

2. I understand what is meant by science

3. Objective knowledge is measured by what we feel about something

4. Science is defined by measurement, correlations, causation, reliability and unpredictability.

5. What makes something science is that it’s true

6. Reliable scientific work is always carried out in a laboratory

Completing the Guide

Once you’ve added your statements give the Guide to your students before you let them loose on the class materials you’re using. If you’ve looked at the Templates I’ve provided you’ll see you have a number of options for how your students complete their Guides:

All Templates require students to indicate their level of agreement / disagreement with the Statement both before and after they have seen the materials. A simple circle or cross can be added to the boxes on the Template. Students are not given the choice to “neither agree nor disagree” with the Statement to avoid fence-sitting. Making students think about statements and make decisions is an integral part of the process.

Template 1: If you don’t want your students to explain their choices add your statements in the space provided. This leaves no space for explanation.

Templates 1 and 2: If you do want your students to explain how and why their choices changed from Before to After they viewed the materials use the space provided under each Statement (i.e. replace “Statement 1” with your actual statement and so on).

Template 3 and 4: If you want your students to explain why they chose both their Before and After statements use these Templates.

You can, of course, design your own Templates to achieve whatever you’re aiming for your students to do in the class.


You can use your Anticipation Guides in a range of ways depending on what you’re trying to achieve for a particular session.

Some teachers might want to get their students to discuss their initial (“Before”) statements as a class to understand areas of agreement and disagreement as well as any general misconceptions apparent among the students. This can also be useful as a way to allow students to articulate their predictions about the material they’re about to encounter.

Alternatively if you want to develop discussion of the material used in a class you can do this after your students have completed their Guides and viewed the materials. In addition, this allows students to consider their initial predictions and whether they’ve been verified or refuted – and why.

You might also want to take the opportunity to correct any general misconceptions about the material they’ve studied and highlight how and why your students have managed to connect new information to their prior knowledge.

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