Do You Need 50 CATS?

Angelo & Cross’s Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATS)

Most instructors are truly trying to provide a good learning experience for their students. An obvious method for determining success is to look at student grades. However, this is a reactive approach, rather than proactive, and may not tell you WHY the students are learning/not learning. A proactive approach can help you adjust your teaching as the term progresses. Angelo & Cross (1993) developed a handbook specifically for instructors to help with this. Their first assumption was “The quality of student learning is directly although not exclusively related to the quality of teaching. Therefore, one of the most promising ways to improve learning is to improve teaching” (1993, p. 7). Their book provides techniques to help you do this and some can be as short as 5 minutes.

These are not the only methods to analyze student learning, but this reference book is very handy! If you have not checked it out, I highly recommend it. The original 1988 version is available as a free download via ERIC. A used second edition can often be picked up for under $10.

Angelo & Cross divided the 50 CATS in areas and sub-areas:

I. Techniques for Course-Related Knowledge & Skills
     A. Prior Knowledge, Recall, & Understanding
     B. Skill in Analysis & Critical Thinking
     C. Skill in Synthesis & Creative Thinking
     D. Skill in Problem Solving
     E. Skill in Application & Performance
II. Techniques for Learner Attitudes, Values, & Self-Awareness
     A. Students’ Awareness of Their Attitudes & Values
     B. Students’ Self-Awareness as Learners
     C. Course-Related Learning & Study Skills, Strategies, & Behaviors
III. Techniques for Learner Reactions to Instruction
     A. Learner Reactions to Teachers & Teaching
     B. Learner Reactions to Class Activities, Assignments, & Materials

Each CAT includes the following sections:

  • estimated Levels of Time and Energy Required for:
    • Faculty to prepare to use this CAT
    • Students to respond to the assessment
    • Faculty to analyze the data collected
  • description,
  • purpose,
  • related teaching goals,
  • suggestions for use,
  • examples,
  • step-by-step procedure,
  • analyzing the data you collect,
  • ideas for extending and adapting,
  • pros & cons, and
  • caveats

Angelo and Cross also developed an inventory of teaching goals that you might find useful to identify your learning outcomes. Each of the CATS is cross-referenced to this inventory so you can find an appropriate assessment to measure student learning against your teaching goals. The Teaching Goals Inventory (53 Likert-scale questions) is available here: Teaching Goals Inventory and Self-scoring inventory).

For a spreadsheet listing CATS by cluster and teaching goals, see:
Contact us if you would like an unprotected copy.

While even the craziest cat-person would agree 50 may be too many, using several CATS during your course might help you improve the quality of your teaching and, therefore, your students’ learning.


Angelo, T., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass.

Cross, K. P., & Angelo, T. (1988). Classroom Assessment Techniques. A Handbook for Faculty.

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