What does it mean to be a good teacher? Many people answer that it’s to give sound knowledge and skills to children. In reality, this notion is much further. A teacher who cares about their students always wants to know how they understood the material. Moreover, each self-respecting teacher should constantly improve his or her teaching skills and acquire new knowledge. Classroom Assessment Techniques or CATs help the teacher evaluate students’ understanding of the material and improve or change the existing curriculum according to the teaching goals.
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The Key Advantages of CATs
With the advent of education, teachers have invented and incorporated these practices into their work, but they just weren’t supported by any documental proof until the end of the 20th century. Their usefulness is undeniable. If you’re a teacher and think of using CATs in your teaching practice, read about their benefits, and motivate yourself:
- The teacher can get an idea of a student’s academic performance. One may argue that it’s possible just to ask them about confusing themes and curriculum and don’t use CATs, but in reality, everything is quite the opposite. All students are afraid to look ridiculous and admit that they don’t understand this or that topic. There’s a variant to speak to each student in person, but it takes a lot of time. So, it’s better to use classroom assessment techniques, which will give an accurate result.
- CATs are the kind of clues for the teacher. The curriculum is created by professionals who take into account all peculiarities of a certain age, mental and cognitive abilities to make up a universal plan for students. But sometimes teachers by themselves should adjust it and change some points to make it more effective. There’s nothing bad and harmful to it. Each teacher should do his or her best to raise good and well-educated children. It’s impossible to make changes in the curriculum without proper reasons, and CATs results are good to aid in making the right adjustments. That’s why you may easily understand why it’s time to start a new topic or which theme needs more instructions and revisions.
- CATs evaluate effective and ineffective teaching methods. Using assessment techniques, you may find out which of your methods help students understand the information more quickly and which aren’t good at all. So, it’s possible to conclude that CATs are the instruments for the improvement of pedagogical skills.
- You can cause the students’ desire to study. Any teacher wants to see more active participation in the learning process, but students, unfortunately, are more passive. Special techniques show them their weak spots so that they want to improve their knowledge. And the more they involve in classroom activities – the better they acquire new information. A lot of studies and research confirmed this effect.
- They suggest a flexible approach. These techniques may be used in any educational institution; the teacher just needs to choose a suitable one. The size of the class number of students also doesn’t matter, as well as the subjects being studied. It can explain their popularity and widespread use by teachers.
- CATs aren’t time-consuming. The teacher doesn’t need to make a separate lesson to check knowledge. It’s possible to incorporate 1-2 techniques in the regular lesson, and they won’t harm and won’t take time. You’ll finish all the activities you’ve planned before, so don’t worry.
Finally, they give feedback which can be used by the teacher, school or university administration and, of course, parents. All of them will see that the teacher is interested in the improvement of students’ knowledge. Moreover, students don’t often tell their parents the truth about their academic performance. So that CATs are useful tools.
Which CATs Are the Most Effective?
As a teacher, you’re free to use any techniques that you like. Read about the most popular. Compare them with your teaching methods and think about whether they fit it or not. Look at the following techniques that have proved effective:
- The checking of background knowledge. It’s used at the beginning of a new theme to understand what knowledge students already have. This technique may be realized in the form of a questionnaire consisting of 3-4 simple questions.
- The method of colorful cards. Green card means that student understands the material, red – that the information is hard. When the lecturer asks, students should raise this or that card.
- The muddiest point technique means that students should explain which part of the lesson or theme was the most complicated for them.
The number of such techniques is huge. Various methods would be useful for all teachers. You may use it at least once, and you’ll understand how effective it is. If you have the desire to create your own CAT, which will be effective for your classroom settings – feel free to do it.