Classroom Assessment Techniques by Angelo and Cross is not a book about testing students. Rather, Angelo and Cross set out to help individual college teachers “obtain useful feedback on what, how much, and how well their students are learning.” (p 3) Specifically, the authors are attempting to assist instructors bridge the gap between what is being taught and what is being learned – what the authors call a “a continuous flow of accurate information on student learning” throughout the semester – before it is too late to solve any problems or issues.

I found it enormously helpful for the authors to explain their purpose of classroom assessment, their seven characteristics of classroom assessment (formative, context-specific, etc.), and their seven basic assumptions of classroom assessment, upon which they designed their model of classroom assessment (explicit goals and objectives, formative feedback, intellectual challenge, etc.).

The Teaching Goals Inventory is one area that I will explore before I begin teaching this summer, as I believe, as the authors suggest, that it will be helpful for me to become more aware of what I would like to accomplish, to locate assessment techniques, and to provide a starting point for discussion of teaching and learning goals.

Before entering into the second section of the text, which provides 50 specific classroom assessment techniques in areas including course related knowledge and analysis as well as critical thinking and problem solving, I found it helpful that the authors pointed out how they selected each individual classroom assessment technique (CAT) to include in the textbook. Their seven criteria included:

  1. Is it context-sensitive?
  2. Is it flexible?
  3. Is it likely to make a difference?
  4. Is it mutually beneficial?
  5. Is it easy to administer?
  6. Is it easy to respond to?
  7. Is it educationally valid?

The authors are quick to point out that while each of the seven criteria had to be met for the CAT to be included in the text, not every CAT would be equally effective for every situation, as not every instructor will have the same teaching goals, even for the same course.

Each of the 50 different classroom assessment techniques (CATs) are discussed in terms of applicability, step-by-step instructions, level of difficulty, and field in which the CAT may be used. Each assessment follows a format that includes 14 points including a description of the technique, its purpose, the exact steps to follow to implement it and the pros and cons of using it.

Many of the activities provide quick and easy ways to identify your students’ misconceptions, and to make sure everyone is on the same page. The very commonly used “muddiest point,” “minute paper,” and “one-sentence summary” are among the assessment techniques ones that I will consider implementing over the next several semesters, as well as the annotated portfolio as a way for students to collect and house samples of their work to show potential employers. I also have an interest in using classroom opinion polls as a way to gather information about when and where to start teaching, and and double-entry journals as a way to establish not only a student’s ideas and assertions about assigned course readings, but also as a way to discover why a reading or certain information is personally significant. I believe that both of the latter exercises would be excellent ways of gaining insight and understanding without the pressure or stress of a group project or individual presentation, making it (hopefully) more authentic.

The final section covers what the authors have learned from six years of work with classroom research and what they believe the next steps will be in this area of education, including classroom research by dedicated social scientists as well as relating teachers’ personal theories about learning with formal theories advanced through decades of research.

There is also an extensive list of resources at the end of the book, including the Teaching Goals Inventory, Self-Scorable Worksheet, and comparative data on the Teaching Goals Inventory from both community colleges and four-year schools. Overall, I believe this is a valuable and easy to use reference for instructors with varied levels of experience.

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