How to Let Your Students Help You Become a Better Teacher

as culled by Jenny Lowood from Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers by Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross  

The Minute Paper

Near the end of class, ask students to take a few minutes to write on a half sheet of paper the answers to two questions:  “What is the most important point you learned today?” and “What point is least clear to you?” This will help you understand what your students comprehended, what they believe is the focus of the lesson, and what you need to review.

Directed Paraphrasing

Near the end of class, ask students to paraphrase something they have just learned, as directed to a specific individual or a specific audience.  This will help you assess their comprehension and application of concepts.

Application Cards

Near the end of class, ask students to write on cards a practical application of an important concept or principle you have just taught.  You can use these to assess students’ learning, and you can share a variety of applications with the class at a later date.

Student-Generated Test Questions

Give students class time to generate test questions for exams.  This will allow students to analyze what they have learned and give you feedback on their areas of focus and how they understand the material.  You might choose to use some of these questions in your tests. 

The Muddiest Point

Near the end of class, ask students to take a few minutes to answer the following question on a half sheet of paper or index card:  “What was the muddiest point for you in the class/lecture/film/discussion/assignment?” 

Using Classroom Assessment Techniques

These are just a few of the C.A.T.’s that can help you to improve your teaching by giving you immediate feedback about your students’ learning and by inviting students to participate in the improvement of the classes they are taking.  If you use C.A.T.’s, it’s important that you discuss students’ responses openly with them, that you seriously consider modifying your approach to the class when it makes sense to do so, and that you let students know why you choose not to modify your instruction when that is the most appropriate response.  See the links below for more information about and examples of C.A.T.’s: