Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers-REVIEW

Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers provides detailed information on various ways to examine student success.  Ironically, I am currently assisting with research on student course evaluations and I have been shocked by the number of negative course evaluations that faculty members say that they receive that focus on ineffective testing or assessments. In this book, Angelo and Cross provide insight that could be helpful to faculty as they decide how and when to assess what their students are learning. The Teacher Goals Inventory allows faculty members to set clear expectations for their students. I have found that professionally I have been most successful when I can identify clear expectations, so I try to apply it to the classroom. Teacher designed feedback forms could help decrease any ambiguity in the classroom instruction and objectives by considering student input during the course as opposed to after. This is perhaps the most poignant point of the book, that student feedback and progress should be assessed during classroom instruction to help increase student success.  As I have carried this over into my managerial style I often reflect on how frequently teachers forget that students need clear guidance on what they will be tested on.

I appreciated the reinforcement of faculty providing a cooperative environment where student motivation is the result of engagement with faculty (p. 305). I’m not sure if we as faculty always think about this, but this reading along with the Barkley and Bain readings were grouped perfectly to provide helpful tips. The readings also reminded me of the ultimate purpose of classroom instruction. This book is a great conclusion to the course readings because assessment is often how classroom success, on the part of the teacher and students are measured. “The central purpose of Classroom Assessment is to empower both teachers and their students to improve the quality of learning in the classroom” (p. 4). The course related self-confidence surveys could be particularly helpful in speech and presentation courses.

The 50 Classroom Assessment Techniques or CATs are divided into categories: Techniques for assessing course-related knowledge and skills, Techniques for assessing learner attitudes, values and self-awareness; Techniques for assessing learner reactions to instruction.

Out of the 50 CATs The Minute Paper stood out the most. I had never heard of it in a higher education setting, but will be using for frequently. I normally start class with some type of ice breaker. A current event, topic from the previous class session or journal entry are ways that I have been able to engage students. I realize now that the minute paper may be a more effective use of that time and I could do it at the end of the class session. This would allow me to see how students articulate, on paper, the information presented. The third CAT, Misconception/Preconception Check could have saved me a lot of class time in the beginning of my teaching career. When students are asked to address current event topics or concerns they may not always realize the information that they already know that can block them from being able to interpret information critically.

This book will be one of the most used books on my book shelf! Not only was it well written and fairly easy to process, but it was also written in a way that I will be able to refer to it as a guide or reference book easily. This can be especially useful when teaching training or nontraditional courses where assessments may need to take place at a faster. I also think this book, or at least the CATs should be mentioned and provided for graduate teaching assistants. The assessments could prevent the backlash of the first assessment being a midterm or final exam. Overall, this was an excellent read and I will definitely recommend it to my peers.

5 thoughts on “Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers-REVIEW”

  1. Hi,

    It is interesting that you indicated that you were shocked by the sheer number of negative course evaluations due to ineffective testing or assessment. From my experiences with this issue, there has oftentimes been a misalignment between the manner in which the teacher is teaching the content and the expectations of the test. That is, teachers might teach the material in a way that only emphasizes knowing important dates, facts, and concepts but the test is based on applying the concepts rather than recall of the information.

    The idea of “closing the feedback loop’ and including students into the assessment process was one of the aspects of this handbook that resonated with me as well. Moreover, this idea of classroom assessment serving as a mechanism to empower both teachers and students to improve the quality of learning in the classroom resonated with me as it reflects the idea that both the student and the teacher are active participants in the teaching and learning process. Moreover, it provides a stronger foundation for the idea that the teaching and learning process should facilitate critical, meaningful, and holistic learning.

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  2. Hello,
    I like how you identified that teachers forget that students need clear guidance on what they will be tested on. I find this to be true frequently for me. I personally know the information so well that it seems obvious to me what information from the class would be tested on. However to students all the information can seem overstimulating too much to dig through to figure it out. One aspect of this book that would help with that process would be the formative assessments. If we as a faculty are assessing the students progress in checkpoints during the semester, there would not be as much surprise when those summative assessments are presented.

    I also identified the link between classroom assessment and student engagement. I think this is drastically underestimated and need to be a focus going forward. There were many parallels between the CAT’s and the SET’s from Barkley. I am curious if there is every a time where student engagement as a part of classroom assessment would be seen as negative…

    Were there any CAT’s that you realized you were already using? There were a few that I identified I was using but I didn’t have the specific terminology.

    Thanks!
    -Charlie

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  3. Hi LeNa’,

    I’m very intrigued by your research project involving SOIs and I hope you’ll talk about that more in class this week. I’ve always wondered how many negative SOIs that faculty receive are warranted and how many are penned by disgruntled students. You are so right about students needing to receive feedback regarding their performance in a class before the end of a semester when the teacher can still intervene. Your idea of providing the resources in this book to graduate teaching assistants is fantastic. I also think that it would be helpful in new teacher orientation sessions that the university provides. I’ve taken a class where our teacher asked us to complete the Minute Paper activity and we did it at the end of class. A word of caution: I don’t know how useful those papers were because most students breezed through it as fast as possible in order to get out of class as soon as they could. I still think it’s a worthwhile activity, but you may need to incentivize students completing the activity appropriately.

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  4. Great post! I appreciate your thoughts on the practicality of the text. You provided concrete examples from the text that helped me better understand your thoughts.

    I think it would be nice for graduate teaching assistants to know/read this book, as well. Think of all that one can learn while they are GTAs – by the time they become seasoned teachers, they will have a toolbox of assessment techniques to use in the classroom.

    Could you elaborate more on using some of the assessment techniques when one needs to assess at a faster rate? When I think of that, I’m thinking of ways to assess more throughout the semester versus just at the midpoint or end of the term. I really think this book will help me with that…you have a get a bit creative!

    Kiara

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  5. Hi LeNa,

    As always, I enjoyed reading your post. I agree with much of what you discussed in your post regarding the content of the text. The author definitely made the content accessible to the reader. This is especially important to me because I am a new teacher. I also agree that the Minute Paper is a very interesting concept and I like your idea of using it as an icebreaker assignment in addition to using it as an assessment tool. You also make a great point about non-traditional courses needing frequent assessments. Considering this, do you think it would be difficult to adopt one of the scales in the text for utilization in a non-traditional course?

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