Would you like to know whether your students understand the complex concept that you are discussing in class today? Would it be helpful for you to know what aspect of today’s class was most confusing for your students? One way to find out this information is by using a just-in-time, non-evaluative form of assessment. Here are some ideas:

  • Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs): CATs are non-graded, anonymous, just-in-time, and quick assessment methods that can provide you with useful information about your students’ learning. Examples of common CATs include:
    • Muddiest Point
    • Minute Paper
    • Classroom Opinion Polls

    For a detailed explanation and an overview of possible CATs to use the classroom, please see the following websites from Carnegie Mellon and Vanderbilt.

    For the most comprehensive overview of CATs, please see the following book (available in the CTL Library):  Angelo, T. A. & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  • Clickers:  The quickest way to get information on whether your students understand a complex concept that you are teaching is to use clickers. By using clickers, you can find out immediately if students are following your lecture. For a demonstration of how one professor uses clickers (combined with peer instruction), see the following video by Eric Mazur at Harvard University.
  • Concept Maps:  One way to understand how students understand a number of concepts in relation to each other is to use a concept map, which is a graphical representation of ideas. For more information on this assessment approach, please see the following link from Carnegie Mellon University.