Classroom Assessment Techniques are targeted questioning techniques that help faculty and students determine if learning goals are being met. Thomas Angelo and Patricia Cross have written the definitive book (Classroom Assessment Techniques) with more than fifty different types of CATS that are subdivided by topic, type of feedback wanted or concept.
Some of our favorites are the One Minute Paper, Muddiest Point and the categorizing grid. A condensed version of when and how to use these three CATs are below.
One Minute Paper
End the class two to three minutes early and ask students to take a piece of paper and write what they see as the most significant things they learned (today, this week, etc.) and what questions they have. This more than just summarizing, students must evaluate what they recall, then summarize and write it down. To write a question, students must self-assess what they know and determine if there appears to be a gap in that knowledge.
This is pretty self-explanitory. An instructor gives students a partially filled-in outline of the day's presentation or homework assignment. Students have a limited time to fill it in. this can be especially useful used at the endof the class as an assessment. Then the next class time, students are given class time to complete the outline or take it home to use as an outline for studying.
An advantage to this CAT is that students can also work in pairs to fill in the blanks - by discussing answers and choosing the best one, students are layering their class experience with discussion and reflection.
This is the equivalent of sorting objects into bins and is particularly helpful for helping students learn characteristics or components/rules of course concepts. A grid is created by the instructor with identifying characteristics across the top and down one side. Students fill the grids with names of items that fit that set of characteristics. As a in-class technique, the instructor can project the names/items to be used. (Note: The instructor must take care that the master list has items that truly belong in only one box). An alternative is for students to fill in a grid as the class progresses through the semester, each time the grid is accessed and more boxes are filled in, the student visualizes the similarities and differences between rows and columns.
An instructor collects the grids and takes note of the correct/incorrect responses. Do students regularly miss one point every semester? Build in some additional work or discussion ahead of time to counteract the issue.
By returning these to students, the empty boxes can be used as a visual organization tool for studying.
Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) :: Resources
Take 5 for Teaching Video: Three More Classroom Assessment Techniques
About the video: Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) help both you understand how well students’ understand your course materials. Ireta Ekstrom discusses three CATs in this five minute Video: Background Knowledge probe; word journal; and RSQC2.
This website from Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne outlines several CATs (Classroom Assessment Techniques) and describes how to use them successfully.
This website at Iowa State is a great overview of Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) with an overview, information on how to use them and a table to help you choose the appropriate CAT for your course.