A tortoiseshell cat naps in a perch with one paw extended
Not this kind of cat.

CATs are Classroom Assessment Techniques. They are quick activities that help educators gauge students’ knowledge, skills and attitude development. CATs can also be used to get immediate feedback from students about the instructional materials, methods, and instructor. Using CATs accomplishes two goals at once: you collect real-time information about both students’ progress and how they are responding to your teaching.

Good CATs take only a few minutes and utilize curriculum-grounded activities, rather than feedback surveys. This means they can be more engaging, and more frequent, that formal feedback. Some popular CATs for soliciting student feedback during a class period are the following:

  • “Muddiest Point” – ask students questions like:
    • what was the most confusing part of the lecture, reading, presentation, instructions, and/or discussion?
    • where did they feel most challenged in the lab exercise?
    • what is unclear about the community norms expectations?
  • Word Journal – you provide 2-3 words pertaining to the content or delivery and ask students to write a short paragraph for each word.
  • Annotated portfolios – ask students to provide 1-2 artifacts from the day and comment on their understanding, development, or challenges, and what they and the professor did or could do to support success.

See a larger list of CATs from Carnegie Mellon University’s Eberly Center, and read this article to find out more about using CATs in an online format.

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles