Classroom Assessment is a systematic approach to formative evaluation, used by instructors to determine how much and how well students are learning. CATs and other informal assessment tools provide key information during the semester regarding teaching and learning so that changes can be made as necessary. "The central purpose of Classroom Assessment is to empower both teachers and their students to improve the quality of learning in the classroom" through an approach that is "learner-centered, teacher-directed, mutually beneficial, formative, context-specific, and firmly rooted in good practice" (Angelo & Cross, 1993, p. 4).
In their book, Classroom Assessment Techniques, Angelo and Cross describe 50 Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)-simple tools (instruments, forms, strategies, activities) for collecting information on student learning in order to improve it. CATs are easy to design, administer and analyze, and have the added benefit of involving students in their own learning. They are typically non-graded, anonymous in-class activities that are embedded in the regular work of the class. The 50 CATS are divided into three broad 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