On Angelo & Cross…

If you are planning for a year, sow rice… if you are planning for a decade, plant trees…                                               if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.       – Chinese Proverb

Summary on… Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers by Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross

For this particular text, I’m going to try a different approach for my summary… partial summary, partial outline… an effort for my own engagement and comprehension.  For some reason this was a difficult read for me to get started (I’m hoping it’s simply because it’s that time of the semester), I know I will re-read it multiple times and will utilize it for its intended purpose.



CH1 What is Classroom Assessment?


“Teaching without learning is just talking” (p.3); the main purpose, or “central purpose… is to empower both teachers and their students to improve the quality of leaning” (p. 4).

Characteristics of Classroom Assessment

Where the assessment is a method in assisting instructors to measure what and how well students might be learning, through… (pp.4-7).

  • Learner-centered – focus is on observation and “improving learning.”
  • Teacher-directed – instructors decide what and how to assess, and what to do with that information
  • Mutually beneficial – through active participation students support the information they are learning while improving their ability to self-assess, and the instructor increases their connection with the course material.
  • Formative – designed to “improve the quality of student leaning” during the learning process.
  • Context-specific – technique fits the subject and needs of the class.
  • Ongoing – a type of “continuing feedback loop.”
  • Rooted in good teaching practice – assessment before, during, and after while teaching students the important skill of self-assessment.

Seven Basic Assumptions of Classroom Assessment (pp.7-11)

seven basic

  1. The quality of student leaning is directly related to the quality of teaching.
  2. Instructors need to lay out clear goals with explicit objectives, while providing specific, easily understood feedback to student learning of those goals.
  3. Provide students with clear feedback early and often, this helps them learn to assess themselves.
  4. The most effective assessments are those that the instructor has developed themselves in order to best deal with gaps in their own teaching.
  5. Provide and challenge instructors with “Motivation, growth, and renewal.”
  6. No training necessary, but should be specific enough to “inform and improve.”
  7. Collaboration among faculty while engaging students through assessment improves education and increases instructor fulfillment.


CH2 The Teaching Goals Inventory (TGI)

“To assess and improve instruction, faculty must first clarify exactly what they want students in their courses to learn” (p. 13).  This chapter simply reviews the history and provides the examples of the self-scoring TGI worksheets (pp. 20-22) to “help teachers link… efforts to teaching goals” (p.19), breaking goals into six clusters:

  1. Higher‐order thinking skills
  2. Basic Academic Success Skills
  3. Discipline-specific knowledge and skills
  4. Liberal arts and academic values
  5. Work and career preparation
  6. Personal development


CH3 First Steps

Comparing summative and formative evaluations…

Summative – focus is on the outcome of a program and assessing individual student achievement and assigning a grade(s).

Examples; quizzes, exams, term papers, etc.

Formative – summarizes participants’ development and is used inform instructor in order to improve learning; used as “feedback devices” (p. 25).

Examples; questions, listen, watch body language and facial expressions, CATs, etc.

The Value of Starting Small: A Three-Step Process

Plan    Implement    Respond

Five Suggestions for a Successful Start (p. 31)

  1. If a classroom assessment technique does not appeal to your intuition and professional judgement as a teacher, don’t use it.
  2. Don’t make a classroom assessment into a self-inflicted chore or burden.
  3. Don’t ask your students to use any classroom assessment technique you haven’t previously tried on yourself.
  4. Allow for more time than you think will need to carry out and respond to the assessment.
  5. Make sure to “close the loop.” Let students know what you learn from their feedback and how you and they can use that information to improve learning.


CH4 Planning and Implementing Classroom Assessment Projects

Provides step-by-step process for transforming the very general goal statement of the TGI into course specific questions (p. 19) and provides examples of this goal-specifying process in several disciplines, describing how faculty can plan and carry out classroom assessment projects; including specific with Starting with Teaching Goals, An Alternate Route: Starting with Questions, & The Classroom Assessment Project Cycle: A Detailed Look…

    An Introduction to the Classroom Assessment Project Cycle

CAT Project Cycle

Ten Guidelines for Success and a Checklist for Avoiding Problems

  1. Start with assessable goals.
  2. Focus on alterable variable.
  3. Build in success.
  4. Start small.
  5. Get students actively involved.
  6. Set limits on the time and effort you will invest.
  7. Be flexible and willing to change.
  8. Work with other teachers who share your interests.
  9. Remember that students must first learn to give useful feedback – and then practice doing so.
  10. Enjoy experimentation and risk-taking, not just success.


CH5 Twelve Examples of Successful Projects

Provides and discusses a dozen examples of multi-discipline classroom assessment case studies based on actual experience; from prior knowledge, skills in categorizing, skill in applying what they’ve learned, problem-solving skills, skill in synthesis and creative thinking, etc.  THESE WERE ALL STANDOUTS FOR ME, MORE IN PARTICULAR ASSESSING STUDENTS’ PRIOR KNOWLEDGE, AS IT PROVIDES A FOUNDATION FOR THE INSTRUCTOR TO BUILD UPON FOR THE SEMESTER.



CH6 Choosing the Right Technique

Describes the CATs with indices listed alphabetically, by discipline, and by related TGI cluster as well as the 14 elements used to present the CATs


CH7 Techniques for Assessing Course-Related Knowledge and Skills

CH8 Techniques for Assessing Learner Attitudes, Values, and Self-Awareness

CH9 Techniques for Assessing Learner Reactions to Instruction

Collectively, contain the “heart” of the “handbook,” (p.105) with 50 CATs grouped according to assessing knowledge and skills (CH 7), attitudes, values and self-awareness (CH 8), and reactions to instruction (CH 9). Each CAT follows a similar, if not exact, format that is numbered, titled, delineates the level or ease of use, provides a description, purpose, and related teaching goals of the CAT, with suggestions for use, examples, step-by-step advice on designing and administering the CAT, analyzing the data it provides, and adapting and extending its use with pros and cons.  (pp. 121 – 361).  OF SPECIFIC INTEREST TO ME WERE THE INDEX BY DISCIPLINE FOR EDUCATION, ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, FINE ARTS, AND MANAGEMENT; CATs 2, 12, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 26, 28, 31, 32, 34, 38, & 47.  WHEN REVIEWING THE CAT INDEX BY CLUSTER THERE ARE MANY MORE THAT SEEM APPLICABLE.



CH 10 Lessons and Insights from Six Years of Use

Provides a review of what has been learned in the years since the development of Cat and this most current revision, with statistical data.  They state that “one of their most compelling findings is that what you teach has a good deal to do with how you teach – or at least what your teaching priorities are…” (p. 369).  Interesting, they further summize that “the CATs presented… are starting points, ideas… design your own assessment techniques… ‘adapt, don’t adopt’” (p.371).


CH 11 Taking the Next Steps in Classroom Assessment and Research

Discusses where their research originated from, classroom research, and what it grew toward, classroom assessment, which is only a portion of classroom research.  They then discuss their thought to the importance for “departmental program in classroom research… administration of TGI” (p.383).  I found this statement very poignant, “if teaching is to become a true profession, teachers need to be able to launch their hypotheses about why students respond the way they do.  They need to deepen their understanding of the learning process, and they need to be able to explain how teaching affects learning” (p. 385).



Supplies additional supporting material as colleges that participated in the 1990 TGI, TGI worksheets, comparative data related to CATs, and a bibliography.


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  1. WOW! This review is unbelievable, I felt like you were teaching a section of class based on the detailed overview. The summary was excellent, but I do wish that I had more information on how you will use the information especially given your experience. In the areas that you thought were interesting, i.e. the Twelve Examples of Successful Projects. Have you used any of the other CATs before?


  2. Hey Darryl,

    I always love to see your quotes or proverbs at the beginning of your posts. They’re always so inspiring. (One of my favorites is: If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito – African proverb [at least according to the internet]) And, this was an unbelievably thorough review! You mentioned a number of CATs that interested you. Do you have any plans to use them in your classes? If so, how would you go about doing so? Any edits that you may want to make to the suggestions provided by the book? I noticed that I happened to have used a few of the CATs before I came across the book. Did the same occur to you? My goodness, I’ve asked a lot of questions. But, as always, I would love to hear more!

    All the best,


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