Center for Teaching Excellence
Although Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) were developed by Cross and Angelo for use in the classroom setting (done quickly — and anonymously — at the end of a class session, with the obvious benefit to the instructor of insight into cadets’ learning), another benefit of using CATs with cadets is in conjunction with their homework assignments to help shape their study. These techniques can help them learn by focusing attention on a specific question that asks them to reflect on, and respond to, the course material assigned for that lesson. To help USMA instructors employ CATs in this way, LTC Chuck Powell has created a Web page that offers a variety of learning assessment techniques (listed below) that you can select from at any time during the semester (it is not wise to use these for every lesson nor is it wise to use the same one all the time).
All you need to do is tell your cadets the URL, http://coursefeedback.usma.ds.army.edu/assessment.pl, and identify the item you wish them to respond to, and provide your userid [an e-mail message is probably the most efficient way to do this]. You will receive a separate e-mail message for each cadet who completes the learning assessment, and the response will be anonymous, as assessments are intended to be. You are not grading or rating cadets but trying to ascertain the nature of their achievements and /or difficulties in learning in order to help shape your class time, that “Golden Hour” when you have the most influence.
Please remember that all assessment requires feedback from the instructor. This does not mean that you have to devote the class session to going over the cadet responses. It can be as simple as, “Thanks to all of you who responded to the learning assessment. It is clear that most of you understand problems one and three but had a great deal of difficulty with problem four. Let's take a look at that problem together.” Or perhaps, “In responding to the learning assessment, most of you seemed to have difficulty identifying the main idea in the two essays assigned. Let’s take a look at the Paglia essay first. I’ve listed four different statements that cadets identified as the most important. In your groups, I’d like you to select the one that you believe expresses the most important idea in the essay. Be prepared to defend your choice. You have ten minutes.”
Feel free to try this process yourself to see how it works before you send your cadets to the site (you can send your practice replies to your own userid, and that will give you a sample of what you will be receiving from the cadets). If you have any questions about using these learning assessment techniques, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Evans.
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The following learning assessment techniques are available:
- Minute Paper # 1
What was the most useful or meaningful thing you learned from this assignment? (Explain in no more than 100 words)
- Minute Paper # 2
In your own words, explain the major point in this assignment. Write the question related to this assignment that you would like to have answered in class.
- Minute Paper # 3
What was the most interesting idea for you in the assignment? In your opinion, what aspect of the assignment is most important for me to clarify in class?
- Muddiest Point #1
Respond in one or two sentences: What aspect of the assignment is least clear to you?
- Muddiest Point #2
Identify the idea or concept that remains unclear to you. Please write one or two sentences to describe that idea or concept as you understand it (even though you know your understanding is not complete).
- Self Assessment #1
Please provide a one or two sentence response to each of the following questions:
- For you, what was the easiest part of this assignment?
- What did you find most difficult about this assignment?
- Self Assessment #2
Please respond briefly to either of the following: If you feel that you've completed the assignment satisfactorily, please identify how much time you needed and the conditions for work that you had (e.g., quiet in the library; in the company day room during commercials, etc.). If you don't feel that you've completed the assignment satisfactorily, please identify the cause (too tired to work, not able to work the problems, not enough time for this assignment) and the amount of time that you gave to this assignment.
- Applications Card
Please list one or two interesting ideas/techniques of this assignment and some possible applications of these ideas/techniques.
In your own words, summarize the essence of the assigned reading (no more than 150 words):
- One Word Journal
Write ONE WORD that, in your opinion, best summarizes the assignment. Justify your choice in no more than 100 words.
- Documented Problem Solution
Choose any one of the assigned problems that you have solved. Explain and document, step by step, in complete sentences, exactly how you solved that problem as though you were briefing the class.
- Self-Diagnostic Learning Log
Please respond to each question in one or two sentences:
- Which concept or principle that you've learned in this course was most useful to you in working these problems?
- Which concept that you have previously learned did this new concept or principle build on?
- If you experienced difficulty or were unable to work any of the problems, what information or knowledge would have enhanced your ability to work the problem(s)?
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