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Classroom Assessment Techniques

What is a Classroom Assessment Technique (CAT)? And what is it not?

A CAT is a simple tool for collecting data on student learning in order to improve it. A CAT is a “feedback device” that a teacher can use to find out how well students are learning, how they are learning, and how much they are learning. The feedback is immediate. It can provide as much information about how and how well a teacher is teaching as it can about student learning. Regular use of CATs helps students focus more effectively during class and gives them practice in monitoring their own learning.

A CAT is a formative evaluation device. It is not graded. It is not a substitute for teaching.
Examples of CATs

The simplest, most flexible CATs are:

  • The Minute Paper - the teacher stops class one or two minutes early and asks students to respond briefly in writing to the following questions: “What was the most important thing you learned during this class” and “What important question remains unanswered for you?”
  • The Muddiest Point – a variation of the minute paper, students describe what was most confusing about a particular lesson or topic.
  • The One-Sentence Summary – students summarize their knowledge of a topic in one sentence that answers Who does what to whom, when, where, how, and why?”
  • Directed Paraphrasing – students write a layperson’s translation of what they have learned, designed to communicate to a specific individual or audience.
  • Applications Cards - after learning about an important theory, principle, or procedure, students write at least one real-world application of what they have learned.
  • Visible Quiz – students work in pairs or small groups to discuss the appropriate response to a displayed quiz question. The answers are multiple choice or true false. Upon a signal, each group displays the team’s choice.

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What is the role of the classroom response systems (“clickers”) in CATs?

The classroom response system makes it easy and quick to implement a visible quiz. eInstruction is the brand name of the classroom response system supported by Purdue. Through the careful use of well-designed and properly timed questions a teacher can immediately learn if the class has understood a lesson and modify the course of the discussion to address knowledge gaps or misconceptions.

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