Classroom Assessment Tools for Immediate Feedback on Your

Quick CATs!
Classroom Assessment Tools for
Immediate Feedback on Your
Overview of CATs
• Concepts
• Methods
• Tools
• Different from Student Course Evaluations and Final Exams
• Reduce gap between what was taught and what was
• Allow time for overcoming gaps well before formal learner
• Shift focus from teaching to learning – and from teacher to
• Purpose is to improve the quality of student learning, not
to provide evidence for grading or evaluating students
• Most effective time for using CATs is before chapter tests or
the midterm and final
Benefits for Faculty
• Formative, speedy, flexible, anonymous
• Day-to-day feedback that can be applied immediately
• Useful information about what students have learned
without the amount of time required for preparing
tests, reading papers, etc.
• Surfaces student misconceptions or lack of
understanding in a timely way
• Fosters good working relationships with students and
encourage them to understand that teaching and
learning are on-going processes that require full
Benefits for Students
• Greater involvement, reflection and selfassessment
• Reduces feelings of isolation and impotence,
especially in large classes
• Increases understanding and ability to think
critically about the course content
• Fosters attitude that values understanding and
long-term retention
• Shows faculty interest and caring about students’
classroom success
Teaching Goals Inventory
• Online version:
• PDF version:
Types of CATs
(Center for Excellence in Teaching, University of Southern California)
Prior Knowledge, Recall, and Understanding
Synthesis and Creative Thinking
Application and Performance
Analysis and Critical Thinking
Course Knowledge and Skills
Feedback on students' prior learning with
short, simple questionnaires prepared by
instructors at the beginning
of a course (e.g., the instructor requests
that students list courses they have
already taken in the relevant
field), at the start of a new unit or lesson,
or prior to introducing an important new
topic. Short answers, multiple-choice, or
Ascertain range
of preparation among
students in a particular
class. Sort into Prepared
and Not Prepared.
Course Knowledge and Skills
Stop two or three minutes early and ask
students to respond briefly
in writing to either (1) "What was the most
important thing you learned during this
class (today)?“ or (2) " What important
question remains unanswered?“
Assesses match between instructional
goals and students‘ perceptions of these
goals and their own learning. Instructor
learns what students perceive to be their
own learning problems, the likelihood that
the students will receive answers to those
questions during the next class period is
enhanced. The task asks students to
evaluate information and to
engage in recall.
Can be used frequently in
courses that present
students with large
amounts of new
information on a regular
basis. Tabulate the
responses, making note of
any especially useful
Course Knowledge and Skills
Ask students to jot down a quick response
to the following question: "What
was the muddiest point in [the lecture, the
homework assignment, the reading, the
film, etc.]?"
Speedy feedback on what
students find least clear or
most confusing. Helps
faculty decide what to
emphasize and how much
time to spend on topics.
Students must quickly
assess what they do not
understand and must be
able to articulate their
confusion (a complex and
useful skill). Use frequently
in courses that present
large amounts of new
information, at the end of
a session. lecture/
Synthesis and Creative Thinking
Ask students to answer the questions
about a given topic: "Who does what to
whom, when, where, how, and why?“
Then students are asked to transform their
responses into a single, grammatical
sentence. Gauges extent to which students
can summarize a large amount of
information concisely and completely.
Answers to each of the
initial questions can be
assessed separately as
"inadequate" (incorrect),
"adequate,” and "more
than adequate." A matrix
with the questions as the
columns and the three
grading categories as the
rows can quickly show
whether students are more
proficient at the whos and
whats rather than the
hows and whys.
Websites about CATs
• Angelo, T. A. & Cross, K. P. (1998). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A
Handbook for College Teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
• Virginia Commonwealth University
• Iowa State University
• Vanderbilt University
• Pennsylvania State University
• University of Michigan
• North Carolina Institute for Child Development
• California State, Long Beach
• George Washington University
• Indiana University
• University of California, Irvine
• Rochester Institute of Technology