Item description: 

Sometimes the best, most teachable moments come from controversy or when there is a problem that requires resolution. For instance, when beginning or ending a unit, students may be posed one of the difficult questions literary critics, mathematicians, or scientists consider when discussing this topic.

The Plus-Minus-Interesting (PMI) assessment activity prompts to students to evaluate a piece of text, art, music, video, scientific process, math approach, etc. The teacher chooses a topic and students describe the pluses and minuses of the concept or approach and note what makes it interesting.

This activity helps to move learners into the high end of Bloom's Taxonomy and promotes metacognition.

PMI is a useful improvement to the "weighing pros and cons" technique that people have used for centuries. Edward de Bono developed the PMI tool and published it in his 1982 book, "De Bono's Thinking Course." PMI helps groups to make decisions quickly by weighing the pros and cons of a decision. It's also useful for widening perception of a problem or decision, and for uncovering issues that students might not ordinarily have considered.

PMI is particularly helpful with a group, especially when you have students who strongly favor a particular idea, point of view or plan. The tool encourages everyone to consider other perspectives, and it can help the class reach a balanced, informed decision (or at least see an issue from someone else's point of view).



  1. Enter a topic into the attached template.
  2. Make and distribute copies for each of the students.
  3. Explain the directions and expectations of the activity. After reading or completing a lesson, students should complete the worksheet. Under the plus column they should list all of the positive aspects of the idea, subject or decision. Under the minus column they should list all of the negative aspects. Under the interesting column they should jot down anything else that they think is worth noting but does not fit easily into the other two columns.
  4. After using this technique students should be in a better position to understand the matter in question.
  5. Once completed, the teacher can either collect the worksheets for evaluation or initiate a class discussion to formatively assess student understanding.

Classroom Management

PMI is useful for making quick, non-critical, go/no-go decisions. You'll need to use other techniques if you need to compare many different options, or if you need to explore some options in greater depth. For these situations, decision-making tools such as Grid Analysis or Decision Tree Analysis are more appropriate.

Preparation time: 10 / Delivery time: 25

PDF icon Plus-Minus-Interesting1.13 MB



Adapted from: De Bono, E. (1999) "Six thinking hats. Boston: Little Brown."