What are CATs?  (Classroom Assessment Techniques)
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What are CATs? (Classroom Assessment Techniques)


This is a Humber College Centre for Teaching
and Learning “How-To” Classroom assessment techniques; also know
as “CATS”. CATS are simple in-class activities for gauging what’s working, and what’s not
working in the classroom, with respect to teaching and learning. They provide a snapshot
of student comprehension, and the effectiveness of your teaching techniques and are designed
to allow for immediate modification of lesson plans. Here’s an example from the seminal
handbook of Classroom Assessment Techniques, written in 1993, by K Patricia Cross, and
Thomas A. Angelo. It’s called “The Muddiest Point”. The professor, simply asks the students
at the end of the lecture to write down the least clear, or the most difficult to understand
concept presented to them that day. The answers are collected, offering the professor immediate
feedback on student understanding. Another technique at assessing the bigger
picture in the class, is “Start, Stop, Continue”. With at least one third of the course done,
ask students to take a piece of the blank paper and create three columns. At the top
of each column, write, “Please Start Doing”, “Please Stop Doing”, and “Please Continue
Doing”. The students write down their answer according to what is happening in the classroom.
You, the professor, collect the feedback, collate results, and share the feedback in
the following class. This exercise allows an opportunity to discuss why things are done
a certain way, and it’s a chance for students to see their suggestions taken into practice.
Thus it creates a positive learning environment. There you have it, two classroom assessment
techniques. Informal ways to find out what’s working and not working in your classroom,
done in a timely manner, so that you can make modifications in your lessons. Thank you and if you’d like to hear more,
an actual assessment, venture one of Humber’s Professors, please follow the link to the
Centre for Teaching and Learning’s first-hand teacher talks series.

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