What Are CATs?

Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) are generally simple, non-graded, anonymous, in-class activities designed to give you and your students useful feedback on the teaching-learning process as it is happening.

Why Should I Use CATs?

CATs can be used to improve the teaching and learning that occurs in a class. More frequent use of CATs can…

  • Provide just-in-time feedback about the teaching-learning process
  • Provide information about student learning with less work than traditional assignments (tests, papers, etc.)
  • Encourage the view that teaching is an ongoing process of inquiry, experimentation, and reflection
  • Help students become better monitors of their own learning
  • Help students feel less anonymous, even in large courses
  • Provide concrete evidence that the instructor cares about learning
Where can I find CATs?
How Should I Use CATs?

Results from CATs can guide teachers in fine-tuning their teaching strategies to better meet student needs. A good strategy for using CATs is the following:

  1. Decide what you want to assess about your students’ learning from a CAT.
  2. Choose a CAT that provides this feedback, is consistent with your teaching style, and can be implemented easily in your class.
  3. Explain the purpose of the activity to students, and then conduct it.
  4. After class, review the results, determine what they tell you about your students’ learning, and decide what changes to make, if any.
  5. Let your students know what you learned from the CAT and how you will use this information.
Demo of This Technique

I use CATs routinely in my teaching and course design. They make, and KEEP, things interesting (which is great for active learning). They also provide a gold mine of informative data you can use in real time.

Here is a CAT in action (click the hyperlinks for How-to’s):

  1. I want to know what topics you all identify as the most “Teaching Tip Tuesday-worthy.”
  2. To find out, I will conduct a simple poll using Mentimeter and embed it in the STHLE.
  3. Teaching Tip Tuesday webpage (I could also use Google Forms or Microsoft Forms).
  4. My explanation: I’m interested in your feedback regarding the topics I should and shouldn’t cover in Teaching Tip Tuesdays; it will me determine and cover topics that are most relevant to you and avoid topics that aren’t. You can complete the survey via the STLHE TTT webpage.
  5. The survey will be available for 7 days from the day it is posted. I will review the results at the end of that period to determine what they tell me about your teaching tip needs.
  6. I will be using this information to help me determine what topics I should cover and will create a schedule of themes based on this data.
…See you next week for a new tip!

Attribution Statement: This resource was adapted from Mcdaniel, R. (2010, June 10). Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs). Vanderbilt University; Vanderbilt University. https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/cats/ which is licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 ‌



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