Magazine article Techniques

The Cat's out of the Bag: Classroom Assessment Techniques to Use in Class Tomorrow

Magazine article Techniques

The Cat's out of the Bag: Classroom Assessment Techniques to Use in Class Tomorrow

Article excerpt

YOU COME TO THE CLASSROOM ARMED WITH LESSONS, QUIZZES AND TESTS. STUDENTS ATTEND your lectures; they take your exams. But how do you know if your students are actually learning? Simply put: You have to ask them. Students are the most reliable and valid source of information available for career and technical educators to reflect on their teaching strategies. Popular sum-mative assessment methodologies evaluate knowledge after learning has occurred, like a final exam. It's a high stakes game with no opportunity for course correction mid-lesson. There must be a better way to monitor learning throughout the semester, and to ensure a constant feedback cycle between educators and students.

Classroom Assessment Techniques

Classroom assessment techniques (CATs) are formative assessments used to monitor students' learning throughout the instruction period. CATs allow teachers time to alter teaching methods based on the response from students. By frequently assessing teaching methods, instructors can edit their instruction as needed and help students learn more effectively. CATs can have significant impact on both students and instructors.

Impact on Instructors

* Provide immediate and useful information about the students' learning

* Address students' lack of understanding immediately

* Reduce the burden of time required for traditional testing methods

* Increase the participation and engagement level of students

Impact on Students

* Empower students to take more responsibility in their learning, and to think critically about self-reflection and assessment

* Focus student attention on gaps in understanding

* Reduce feelings of confusion, isolation and distrust

* Increase understanding of concepts and long-term retention of learning

CATs provide flexibility so that career and technical education (CTE) teachers can choose those activities that are most beneficial to their own personal teaching goals. To choose the best CAT for your classroom, use:

1. Develop a list of CATs to elicit student feedback, and an understanding of how to use them.

2. Translate student feedback into immediate action that will improve teaching and learning outcomes.

Implement CATs in 3 Steps

In Classroom Assessment Techniques, authors and educators Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross provide a simple three-step process to implement CATs in your CTE classroom.

Preparing for the Road Ahead

1. Plan: What is the purpose of this assessment? What information would you like to know? What kind of prompts or activities will elicit this information?

2. Implement: Choose the CAT that will address your purpose. Incorporate the CAT into your lesson and collect data. Analyze the student feedback.

3. Respond: Interpret your results and decide how this informs your teaching strategies. Are your current methods effective? What gaps exist between the learning and teaching according to this data? Share the results with your students (Angelo & Cross, 1993).

Instructors often implement their own, similar version of these techniques without any prior knowledge, simply to evaluate how their students are learning. But without a purpose or clear plan for implementation, classroom assessment techniques fall short of their full potential for providing valuable information.

Educators interested in deploying CATs in their own classrooms may find success in starting small. Choose one class that offers a positive experience, and one you will probably teach again. Ask yourself: Is there some specific, focused outcome I would like to improve in this course? And perhaps even more importantly, am I prepared to dedicate the time and effort necessary to implement and follow up on CATs?

Yes! Then it's time to identify a goal and plan your approach. CATs are numerous and each is highly customizable. …

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