Measuring student learning with classroom assessment techniques

In Classroom Assessment Techniques, Angelo and Cross (1993) identify dozens of strategies for conducting formative and summative assessment. Here are several common formative assessment strategies:

Technique 1: Application card

(Angelo & Cross, 1993, p. 236-239)

Application card procedure

  • Identify an important—and clearly applicable—principle, theory, generalization, or procedure that your students are studying or have just studied.
  • Decide how many applications you will ask for and how much time you will allow. One to three examples and five minutes is usually sufficient. Before class starts, figure out exactly how you will word the assessment prompt.
  • Announce what you are going to do in the beginning of class. At the appropriate time, hand out small index cards or slips of paper. You can remind students that the point is to come up with their own applications, not just to repeat the ones heard in class or from the text.
  • Collect the application cards and let the students know when they will get feedback.


Gresham’s law basically states “good money drives out bad.” Give at least one contemporary application of Gresham’s law to something other than money.

Technique 2: Muddiest point

(Angelo & Cross, 1993, p. 154-158)

Muddiest point procedure

  • Determine what you want feedback on: the entire class or one self-contained segment.
  • Use the question “What was the muddiest point in [fill in the blank]?”
  • Pass out index cards. Let students know how much time they will have.
  • Create groups of two to four.
  • Stand by the door to collect responses as students leave.
  • Respond to students’ feedback during the next class meeting or as soon as possible.

Technique 3: Minute paper

(Angelo & Cross, 1993, p. 148-153)

Minute paper procedure

  • Decide what you want to focus on and when to administer the minute paper. For example, if you want to focus on students’ understanding of a lecture, you will probably administer the minute paper in the last few minutes. If you want to focus on a homework assignment that was due, the first few minutes is probably best.
  • Write a minute paper prompt or question that fits your course and students. Try it out before using it in class.
  • Plan to set aside five to ten minutes of your next class to use the technique, as well as time to explain what you are doing beforehand.
  • Before class, write out one or two minute paper questions for the students to see.
  • At the appropriate time, hand out index cards or half-sheets of paper.
  • Unless there is very good reason to do so, have students leave their names off the cards.
  • Let the students know how much time they will have (two to three minutes per question), what kinds of answers you want (words, short sentences, list), and when they will receive feedback.
  • Give the students feedback.


List the five most important points from lecture today, along with one or two important questions you have about the material.


Angelo, T. A. & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Walvoord, B. E. (2010). Assessment clear and simple: A practical guide for institutions, departments and general education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.