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tennessee technological university

The CAT Instrument is a unique tool designed to assess and promote the improvement of critical thinking and real-world problem solving skills. The instrument is the product of extensive development, testing, and refinement with a broad range of institutions, faculty, and students across the country. The National Science Foundation has provided support for many of these activities.

Narrated Overview (in Flash format)

Proceedings of the National STEM Assessment Conference 2011_NSF_AAAS 2013 TUES Principal Investigators (PIs) Conference STEM Education

This instrument is featured in several NSF publications.

The CAT Instrument is designed to assess a broad range of skills that faculty across the country feel are important components of critical thinking and real world problem solving. The test was designed to be interesting and engaging for students. All of the questions are derived from real world situations. Most of the questions require short answer essay responses and a detailed scoring guide helps ensure good scoring reliability.

The CAT Instrument is scored by the institution's own faculty using the detailed scoring guide. Training is provided to prepare institutions for this activity. During the scoring process faculty are able to see their students' weaknesses and understand areas that need improvement. Faculty are encouraged to use the CAT instrument as a model for developing authentic course assessments and learning activities in their own discipline that improve students' critical thinking and real-world problem solving skills. These features help close the loop in assessment and quality improvement.


Partial support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation’s TUES (formerly CCLI) Program under grant 0404911, 0717654 and 1022789.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Center for Assessment & Improvement of Learning
Box 5031, Tennessee Technological University
Cookeville, TN 38505
(931)372-3252 (931)372-3611