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Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATS)

What is classroom assessment?

Classroom assessment is a teaching approach and a set of techniques you can use to better understand how well your students are learning. The concept is the more you know about what and how students are learning, the better you can plan learning activities to structure your teaching. The techniques are mostly simple, short, non-graded, anonymous, in-class activities that give you and your students useful feedback on the teaching-learning process.

How is classroom assessment different from other assignments I give?

Classroom assessment differs from tests and other forms of student graded-work in that it is aimed at course improvement, rather than just at assigning grades. The primary goal is to better understand your students' learning and so to improve your teaching.

How do I use Classroom Assessment Techniques?

  1. Decide what you want to learn from a classroom assessment.
  2. Choose a Classroom Assessment Technique (CAT) that provides this feedback.
  3. Explain the purpose of the activity to students, then conduct it.
  4. After class, review the results and decide what changes, if any, to make to your teaching approach.
  5. Communicate back to your students know what you learned from the CAT and how you will use this information. (This is critical if you want students to take future CATs seriously.)

Why should I use CATs?

Frequent use of CATs can:

Provide short-term feedback about the day-to-day learning and teaching process at a time when it is still possible to make course corrections.

Provide useful information about student learning with a much lower investment of time compared to tests, papers, and other traditional means of learning assessment.

Help to foster good rapport with students and increase the efficacy of teaching and learning.

Where can I find more about specific CATs to use in my class?

The following web site has good examples of common CATs:

Published Resources:
Angelo, T.A. & Cross, P.K. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.