10 Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)

Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) are the collection of frequent summative feedback on students learning through the collection of frequent feedback on learning objectives and the design of classroom experience. Using CATS allows teachers to learn about how students are learning and how they respond to particular teaching points.

The purpose of Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) is to give teachers, and their students feedback that improves the quality of learning in the classroom. CATs are designed to help teachers discover what students are learning or not learning in the classroom.

As a teacher, you might assume that the course content, readings, and lectures have left the students knowing what you wanted them to know. Only to find out later that students did not learn what you wanted them to learn. Having the students complete a CAT immediately after the session or section helps reinforce the material you taught. It also uncovers gaps in understanding before it is too late, and students get left behind or have gaps in necessary knowledge.

Do not wait for semester-end evaluations to gather potentially useful information on student learning since it is often collected too late for the students in the current session. CATs are summative in nature, and collecting feedback before chapter tests, midterms, and final exams are the most effective. Once students are done with a test, they think of it as over and done with and may forget the material taught.


Planning Focus your first CAT on a course that you know well, are comfortable with, and one that is going well.

Implementing– Announce your plans at the beginning of the class for the first few times. Be sure to tell the students exactly why you are asking them for information and how you will be using it to help them improve their learning, and improve your teaching. In most cases, it is best to ask for anonymous responses. When administering the CAT at the end of the section or session, make sure your students are clear on the process by sharing the instructions with them on completing the CAT.

Responding– Take part in the CAT by closing the feedback loop. Decide on how and when you will tell your students about their responses. Responding can take the form of simply telling the class or a handout.  Also, let the students know what adjustments you are making in your teaching because of the information they have provided. You also inform the students of any adjustments they could make based on the feedback in order to improve their learning.

Tips for a successful start

Get your feet wet slowly and try one or two CATs that require very little preparation and are low risk.

  1. If a CAT does not appeal to you, then look for another CAT that does.
  2. Do not make CATs a chore or burden. Be more effective by trying one or two techniques a semester and working out the process before adding more.
  3. Try it yourself before you deploy it!
  4. Allow more time than you think the process will take with new CATs.
  5. Close the feedback loop.


Teaching Online: Course Design, Delivery, and Teaching Presence Copyright © by Analisa McMillan. All Rights Reserved.

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