Guilty as Charged

A Reflection on “Everybody with Me?” and Other Not-so-useful Questions. Original article by Pete Watkins from the February 26 edition of Faculty Focus. Post by Martha Madigan.

“Does that make sense? Is everybody with me?” Yes I do say it. A LOT. It feels right, like I’m involving everyone in the most open and inclusive way possible. It makes me feel good, and when students don’t respond with questions, comments or concerns, which is most of the time, I feel validated. “I must have made myself clear,” I think to myself as I move on to the next activity.  “We got this. Now we can move forward, together”. I want to believe that I have such a great rapport with my students, that we are so in sync, that somehow I will just know when they are ready to move on. I’m imagining something that looks like this:

Picture of a group of smiling students with thumbs up

But to my students the reality probably feels more like this:

Drawing of blindfolded people who are struggling to find their way.

After reading Watkins’ article, I’m forced to admit that Classroom Assessment Techniques are a far more effective method for determining what my students do, and do not, understand and when it’s the right time to move on. Classroom Assessment Techniques, or CATs, are short, formative assessment exercises that can be completed using just a few minutes of class time and offer faculty an idea about how well students understood the concepts from the day’s class (follow the link below for some examples). They are private, anonymous and relaxed, plus, I often make them each student’s ticket out of class, which they typically appreciate (sometimes more than I’d like). They’re not difficult to implement or time consuming to read and I don’t even have to grade them. I know I won’t always get profound answers and they won’t always make me feel good, but I might just get some honest feedback and be able to make appropriate adjustments. They don’t offer me that warm fuzzy feeling of connection, but I suppose making me feel good isn’t the point.

Here is a link to a handy pdf that offers some specific examples and descriptions of some CATs.

“Everybody with Me?” and Other Not-so-useful Questions can be found at Faculty Focus.

The Teaching Professor includes summarized articles from various educational publications, as well as original articles from university and college instructors. If you are interested in viewing articles in this and/or other publications, contact Martha Madigan at or stop by the CTE, TLC 324. 

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