CATS - Teaching Tips for Adjuncts

CATS - Classroom Assessment Techniques

Dr. Idahlynn Karre, author of the book Classroom Assessment Techniques,  visited the MVCC campus in 2009. During her visit, she offered a number of helpful, practical classroom tips.

Many of her techniques may be directly applied or adapted four use in your classroom.  They will help you engage students and reinforce deep learning. Copies of the book have been placed in each Academic Center's Dean's Office and in the College Library if you would like to investigate more CATs.
 

Here are some CATs to get you started...

#1 Student-Generated Test Questions
Students are asked to create test questions on their own about the content in the courses.

Suggestions for this technique
• Best if administered 2 to 3 weeks prior to a major test to allow time for feedback and adjustment

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop ability to apply principles and generalizations already learned to new problems and situations
• Develop appropriate study skills, strategies and habits
• Learn terms and facts of this subject
• Learn concepts and theories in this subject
• Learn to evaluate methods and materials in this subject
• Develop a commitment to accurate work
• Develop ability to perform skillfully

If you would like more information about this CAT, consult the book by Cross & Angelo, page 240.

#2 Papers or Project Prospectus
Students are asked to turn in a prospectus, which is a brief, structured first-draft plan for a term paper or term project.

Suggestions for this technique
• Appropriate for any course that requires students to write term papers or to carry out substantial projects
• Most effective when used several weeks before the assignment is due

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop ability to apply principles and generalizations already learned to new problems and situations
• Improve writing skills
• Develop appropriate study skills, strategies and habits
• Develop management skills
• Develop ability to synthesize and integrate information and ideas

If you would like more information about this CAT, consult Cross & Angelo, page 248.

#3 Course-Related Self-Confidence Surveys
Students fill out Course-Related Self-Confidence Surveys consisting of a few simple questions aimed at getting a rough measure of the students' self-confidence in relation to a specific skill or ability.

Suggestions for this technique
• Useful in courses where students are trying to learn new and unfamiliar skills, or familiar skills that they failed to learn in previous attempts
• Best if used with pre- and post-assessment to clearly see the progress

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop leadership skills
• Develop management skills
• Develop a commitment to personal achievement
• Improve self-esteem/self-confidence

If you would like more information about this CAT, consult Cross & Angelo, page 275.

#4 Productive Study-Time Logs
Students keep records of how much time they spend studying for a particular class, when they study, and how productively they study at that time.

Suggestions for this technique
• Useful for students to determine whether their level of commitment is in line with their goals
• Helpful in finding out whether student complaints about the amount of time they are investing in studying are legitimate

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop appropriate study skills, strategies and habits
• Prepare for transfer or graduate study
• Improve ability to organize and use time effectively
• Develop management skills
• Develop ability to draw reasonable inferences from observations
• Cultivate a sense of responsibility for one's own behavior
• Cultivate emotional health and well-being

If you would like more information about this CAT, read Classroom Assessment Techniques, Cross & Angelo, page 300.

#5 Focused Listing
Students are asked to list related ideas to a specific focused point.

Suggestions for this technique
• Works well in classes of all sizes
• Useful for courses that regularly introduce a large amount of information
• Particularly useful for survey courses or vocational and pre-professional education courses
• Most effective when focus is on one concept at a time

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Improve skill at paying attention
• Improve memory and listening skills
• Develop appropriate study skills, strategies and habits
• Learn terms and facts of this subject
• Learn concepts and theories in this subject

If you would like more information about this CAT, read Cross & Angelo, page 126. 

#6 Pro and Con Grid
Students create a list of pro and con outcomes to a question or situation presented by the instructor.

Suggestions for this technique
• Any course where questions of value are an explicit learning outcome
• Particularly useful in humanities, social science, and public policy courses, or in applied fields where multiple solutions to problems are possible

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop analytic skills
• Learn to evaluate methods and materials in this subject
• Develop capacity to make informed ethical choices
• Develop ability to draw reasonable inferences from observations
• Develop a commitment to one's own values

If you would like more information about this CAT, read Classroom Assessment Techniques, Cross & Angelo, page 168.

#7 Word Journal
Students summarize a focused text in a single word and then write a paragraph explaining why they chose that particular word.

Suggestions for this technique
• Assess the reading of short texts
• Particularly useful in courses that focus on primary texts
• Especially beneficial when students can discuss and compare their responses

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop ability to think holistically: to see the whole as well as the parts
• Improve memory, listening, and reading skills
• Develop appropriate study skills, strategies and habits
• Develop ability to synthesize and integrate information and ideas

To find out more, read Classroom Assessment Techniques, Cross & Angelo, page 188.

#8 Reading Rating Sheets
Students assess course readings by filling out a rating sheet prepared by the instructor.

Suggestions for this technique
• Useful in assessments in courses where there are several different assigned readings and faculty have some choice in assigning readings

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Improve reading skills
• Learn to evaluate methods and materials in this subject
• Develop capacity to make informed decisions

If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, Cross & Angelo, page 352.

#9 Assignment Assessments
Students are asked to assess the value of the assignment and whether it contributes to their learning.

Suggestions for this technique
• Most useful in intermediate and advanced classes

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Learn to evaluate methods and materials in this subject
• Develop capacity to think for one's self

To learn more, read Classroom Assessment Techniques, Cross & Angelo, page 356.

#10 Problem Recognition Tasks
Students are asked to recognize and identify the particular type of problem in the examples presented.

Suggestions for this technique
• Useful for quantitative and technical fields such as mathematics, physics, statistics, and accounting

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop ability to apply principles and generalizations already learned to new problems and situations
• Develop problem-solving skills
• Develop appropriate study skills, strategies and habits
• Improve mathematical skills
• Prepare for transfer or graduate study
• Learn techniques and methods used to gain new knowledge in this subject
• Develop ability to perform skillfully

Read Classroom Assessment Techniques, Cross & Angelo, page 214, to learn more about this technique.

#11 Analytic Memos
Students analyze a specific problem or issue and write a one- or two-page memo.

Suggestions for this technique
• Particularly useful in management related disciplines and seminars and small classes

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop analytic skills
• Develop problem-solving skills
• Improve writing skills
• Develop leadership skills
• Develop management skills

Read Classroom Assessment Techniques, Cross & Angelo, page 177, for more information.

#12 Concept Maps
Students draw diagrams or maps between major concepts showing the mental connections

Suggestions for this technique
• Useful technique to assess and develop metacognitive skills
• Any course that requires conceptual learning
• Works well for students with strong visual learning style

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop ability to think holistically: to see the whole as well as the parts
• Develop appropriate study skills, strategies and habits
• Learn concepts and theories in this subject
• Learn to understand perspectives and values of the subject
• Develop ability to draw reasonable inferences from observations
• Develop ability to synthesize and integrate information and ideas
• Develop capacity to make informed decisions

To find out more about this technique, read Classroom Assessment Techniques, Cross & Angelo, page 197.

#13 Group-work Evaluation
Students fill out simple questionnaires asking for their reactions to cooperative learning and study groups.

Suggestions for this technique
• Most helpful in classes where students regularly work in small groups
• Best if introduced soon after the groups begin working together, since it provides feedback that can inform their development and improve their effectiveness

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop management skills
• Develop ability to work productively with others
• Develop respect for others

To learn more, read Classroom Assessment Techniques, Cross & Angelo, page 347.

#14 Misconception/Preconception Check
Assess students' misconception/preconception by asking questions in multiple choice or short answer format.

Suggestions for this technique
• Particularly useful in social and behavioral science courses dealing with controversial or sensitive issues
Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop ability to distinguish between fact and opinion
• Learn terms and facts of this subject
• Learn concepts and theories in this subject
• Develop an openness to new ideas
• Develop capacity to think for one's self

If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, by Cross & Angelo.

#15 Muddiest Point
At the end of class students are asked, "What was the muddiest point in ___?" The question is useful for lectures, reading assignments, discussions, or video/films. Use responses to focus the next class meeting.

Suggestions for this technique
• Particularly useful in large, lower-division classes
Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Improve skill at paying attention
• Improve listening skills
• Develop appropriate study skills, strategies and habits
• Learn terms and facts of this subject
• Learn concepts and theories in this subject
• Develop ability to concentrate

If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, by Cross & Angelo.

#16 Categorizing Grid
Students are asked to sort list of items (terms, images, equations, other items) into the correct categories on the grid.

Suggestions for this technique
• Most useful in introductory-level courses
Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop analytic skills
• Improve memory skills
• Develop appropriate study skills, strategies and habits
• Learn terms and facts of this subject
• Learn concepts and theories in this subject
• Develop ability to draw reasonable inferences from observations

If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, by Cross & Angelo.

#17 Approximate Analogies
Students are asked to complete the second half of an analogy: A is to B as ___ is to ___

Suggestions for this technique
• Any course which requires understanding of critical relationships
• Assess the transfer and application of knowledge, and creative thinking
Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop ability to think creatively
• Improve memory skills
• Learn concepts and theories in this subject
• Develop an openness to new ideas
• Develop ability to synthesize and integrate information and ideas
• Develop capacity to make wise decisions

If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, by Cross & Angelo.

#18 Applications Cards
Students are asked to write down a possible real-world application on an index card, after they have learned about principles, theory, or procedures.

Suggestions for this technique
• Can be used for a variety of class types and sizes

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop ability to apply principles and generalizations already learned to new problems and situations
• Develop ability to think creatively
• Develop appropriate study skills, strategies and habits
• Learn concepts and theories in this subject
• Develop an appreciation of the liberal arts and sciences
• Develop ability to draw reasonable inferences from observations
• Develop capacity to make wise decisions

#19 Profiles of Admirable Individuals
Students write a brief, focused profile of an individual whom they admire in a field related to the course, and explain what they find admirable about that individual and why.

Suggestions for this technique
• Useful in courses where students are expected to explore their values or the values of the discipline in systematic ways
• Particularly useful in ethics courses and in preprofessional training
Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Learn to understand perspectives and values of this subject
• Learn to appreciate important contributions to this subject
• Develop an informed historical perspective
• Develop capacity to make informed ethical choices
• Develop leadership skills
• Develop a commitment to one's own values
• Develop respect for others

If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, by Cross & Angelo.

#20 Classroom Opinion Polls
Informal polling to collect students' anonymous opinion on specific issues.

Suggestions for this technique
• Can be used as a pre- and post-assessment device to see the changes in students' opinion
• Well suited for classes in social sciences, humanities, and professional studies

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Learn to understand perspectives and values of this subject
• Develop an openness to new ideas
• Develop an informed concern about contemporary social issues
• Develop capacity to make informed ethical choices
• Develop leadership skills
• Develop a commitment to one's own values

If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, by Cross & Angelo.

#21 Empty Outlines
Students are asked to complete the empty or partial outlines for class materials or homework within a limited time.

Suggestions for this technique
• Best for courses that present a large amount of content regularly in a highly structured manner
• Time consuming to read all responses

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Improve skill at paying attention
• Improve listening skills
• Develop appropriate study skills, strategies and habits
• Learn terms and facts of this subject
• Develop ability to concentrate

If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, by Cross & Angelo.

#22 Memory Matrix
A simple table with rows and columns representing key concepts and their relationships. When students fill in the blank cells in the table, they provide an easily assessable demonstration of their understanding.

Suggestions for this technique
• Useful for assessing student recall and basic comprehension of facts and principles in courses with a high informational content
• Be aware that this technique is a convenient simplification of a more complex reality

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Improve memory skills
• Improve reading skills
• Develop appropriate study skills, strategies and habits
• Learn terms and facts of this subject
• Learn concepts and theories in this subject
• If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, by Cross & Angelo.


#23 Everyday Ethical Dilemmas
Students are presented with an abbreviated case study that poses an ethical problem related to the discipline or profession of their study, and respond briefly and anonymously to that case.

Suggestions for this technique
• Particularly useful in preprofessional, education, and liberal arts—law, medicine, social work, education, engineering, management, philosophy, and theology

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Learn to understand perspectives and values of this subject
• Learn to appreciate important contributions to this subject
• Develop an informed historical perspective
• Develop capacity to make informed ethical choices
• Develop leadership skills
• Develop a commitment to one's own values
• Develop respect for others

If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, by Cross & Angelo.

#24 Focused Autobiographical Sketches
Students write a short autobiographical sketch focused on a single successful learning experience in their past that is relevant to the particular course.

Suggestions for this technique
• Useful in any course that aims at helping students develop their self-confidence, self-awareness, and skill at self-assessment

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Develop a lifelong love of learning
• Develop leadership skills
• Develop a commitment to personal achievement
• Improve self-esteem/self-confidence
• Develop a commitment to one's own values
• Develop respect for others
• Cultivate emotional health and well-being

If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, by Cross & Angelo.

#25 Students list a few learning goals they hope to achieve through the course and rank the relative importance of those goals.

Suggestions for this technique
• Useful to find out what students hope to get from the class
• Best if done in the very beginning of the course

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Learn to understand perspectives and values of this subject
• Develop ability to work productively with others
• Develop a commitment to personal achievement
• Cultivate a sense of responsibility for one's own behavior
• Develop a commitment to one's own values

If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, by Cross & Angelo.


#26 Process Analysis
Students keep records of the actual steps they take in carrying out a representative assignment and comment on the conclusions they draw about their approaches to that assignment.

Suggestions for this technique
• Useful for courses in which students carry out the same types of assignment several times during the term
• Useful in assessing learning in courses that require the mastery of physical procedures—courses such as music, dance, physical education, medical and nursing education, and other vocational fields

Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Improve mathematical skills
• Develop skill in using materials, tools, and/or technology central to this subject
• Develop a commitment to accurate work
• Develop ability to perform skillfully

If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, by Cross & Angelo.

#27 Teacher-Designed Feedback Forms
Students are asked to complete short, simple, course-specific evaluation forms  created by the teacher.

Suggestions for this technique
• Not effective for very small classes
• More useful if used in early stage of the course to track changes over time
Instructional goals that this technique fulfills:
• Learn to evaluate methods and materials in this subject
• Develop ability to draw reasonable inferences from observations
• Develop capacity to think for one's self

#28 Content, Form, and Function Outlines: This technique is also called "What, How, and Why Outlines." To respond to it, the student carefully analyzes the "what" (content), "how" (form), and "why" (function) of a particular message. That message may be a poem, a newspaper story, a critical essay, a billboard, a magazine advertisement, or a television commercial. The student writes brief notes answering the "what, how and why" questions in an outline format that be quickly read and assessed.

If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, Cross & Angelo
 

#29 Approximate Analogies: To respond to the Approximate Analogies assessment technique, students complete the second half of an analogy--A is to B as X is to Y--for which their instructor has supplied the first half (A is to B). Consequently, the student can respond to this technique in as few as two words. For assessment purposes, student responses need not always display the rigor required of analogies in formal logic or mathematics; that's why these are called "approximate analogies."

If you would like more information about this CAT, please ask your Dean or Assistant Dean to see Classroom Assessment Techniques, Cross & Angelo