Investing in CATs

Grumpy Cat

Last year I discovered CATs – no, not the cute and cuddly or the grumpy Internet versions of your friendly household pets. I’m talking Classroom Assessment Techniques – formative assessments designed to help instructors gather feedback on how their students are learning before the exam or summative assessment. The idea is that instructors can then refocus their teaching in order to make the learning more efficient and effective.

I have to confess that I’ve used formative assessments for years just as most instructors do, but I didn’t realize the true benefit of these assessments or the numerous types there were to explore. I simply used a few basic ones, like short quizzes at the beginning of class to determine if my students either 1) read the homework, or 2) remembered anything from the previous day’s lesson. I am also quite fond of a short written reflection that the students do at the end of class. These reflections let me see where the students are struggling and help me determine what I may need to provide feedback about in the next day’s lesson.

This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. Angelo and Cross (1993) compiled a book of Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for Teachers that includes 50 assessment techniques divided into ten categories based on what they assess. This allows instructors to choose the right tool for the job, so to speak. There are assessment techniques to assess recall, application, critical thinking, problem solving, learner reactions, and more. Each technique includes an explanation of the purpose, how to implement it, the time involved for students and instructors, how to analyze the data, and examples of use in actual classrooms.

Over the next several weeks, I hope to share more information with you regarding classroom assessment techniques, but before I do, I would like to perform a simple assessment now.

What do you think of CAPE’s blog? Are you satisfied with the topics? What else would you like to know more about?

All commenters will be entered into a drawing for a free Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for Teachers book. The winner will be announced next Friday right here on Follow Me Friday.



  1. I think the blog is great! It’s a big undertaking to continually create and/or gather new content under a deadline, taking time & energy, and I appreciate that you guys are doing it. I like to check in each day and see what’s new! Thank you for the effort that you put into engaging the VC community.


  2. I like the hooks to get me to read the blog. Investing in CATs made me wonder what the content would be. I enjoyed reading the post and appreciate the helpful information. Keep it coming!


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