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Catalytic Assessment

I came across a new term today that immediately intrigued me, Catalytic Assessment. It came up during ta Blackboard TLC 2020 talk by Emmanuel Zilberberg who was discussing Dynamic Assessment method in the Blackboard to t scaffolding of learning and using adaptive release of content once learners are ready. An interesting discussion in its own right, but what really stuck with me was how he described ‘Catalytic Assessment’, “making learner think they are correct as long as necessary”, or something to that effect.  

Draper (2008) define Catalytic Assessment as: 

assessment designed to lead to learning later (often after the learner has given an answer to the question) and where that learning typically occurs without formative feedback (I.e., external and diagnostic or constructive) but through processes (including metacognition) internal to the learner 

In Drapers (2008) paper this is discussed in the context of Electronic Voting Systems. Both Draper (2008) and Emmanuel, discussed this in relation to Eric Mazur’s (1997) Peer Instruction method. Mazur (1997) never uses the term Catalytic Assessment, however, it is essential to the approach; educator sets questions, learners answer, learners defend their answers in discussion with peers, answer again bested on peer learning. It is that crucial defense of one's answer that is the core of Catalytic Assessment.  


Draper, S.W. (2008) ‘Catalytic assessment: understanding how MCQs and EVS can foster deep learning’, British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(2), pp.285-293.  

Mazur, E. (1997) Peer instruction : a user’s manual. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. 

Zilberberg, E. (2020) Organizing Asynchronous Dynamic Assessments Combining A Survey, A Forum And A Quiz, Blackboard TLC Europe 2020, Online, 18 May-5 June.