Quick Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)

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A. "Classroom Assessment Techniques" (pdf) outlines 5 general characteristics of CATs, gives examples of 4 general questions of understanding a CAT can address, introduces 10 quick activities to use in-class, and  concludes with 4 tips for effectively implementing CATs.

See also

B. Summary

1. General Characteristics of CATs

  • "[G]eared to providing practice and general feedback that will improve student learning"
  • "[D]esigned by the instructor to assess questions of particular concern in his/her course"
  • "[I]ntended to assess the whole class' understanding, not to evaluate individual learners"
  • "[T]ailored to content-specific objectives"
  • "[A]llows for ongoing feedback with relatively quick assessment tools"

2. Examples of Questions You Might Address with a CAT

  • "How familiar are students with important names, events, and places in history that they will need to know as background in order to understand the lectures and readings (e.g. in anthropology, literature, political science)[?]"
  • "How are students applying knowledge and skills learned in this class to their own lives (e.g. psychology, sociology)[?]"
  • "To what extent are students aware of the steps they go through in solving problems, and how well can they explain their problem-solving steps (e.g. mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering)[?]"
  • "How and how well are students using a learning approach that is new to them (e.g. cooperative groups) to master the concepts and principles in this course?"

3. Ten Included CATs (with Instructions on How to Use Each)

  • Minute Paper
  • Muddiest Point
  • Background Knowledge Probes
  • Problem Recognition Tasks
  • Documented Problem Solutions
  • Directed Paraphrasing
  • Application Cards
  • Student-generated Test Questions
  • Classroom Opinion Polls
  • Group-Work Evaluations

4. Tips for Creating and Implementing CATs

  • "Identify a specific 'assessable' question where the students' responses will influence your teaching and provide feedback to aid their learning."
  • "Complete the assessment task yourself (or ask a colleague to do it) to be sure that it is doable in the time you will give the class."
  • "Plan how you will analyze students' responses, e.g. grouping them into categories such as 'Good understanding,' some misunderstanding,' or 'significant difficulties."
  • "After using a classroom assessment technique, communicate the results tot he students so that they know you learned from the assessment and so that they can identify specific difficulties of their own."​​​​​​
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