Assessment Methods

Measuring Prior Knowledge, Recall and Understanding
Assessment Type Description Objective Implementation
Background Knowledge Probe Short Surveys to use at beginning of course, beginning of a new unit, or prior to introducing a new concept To determine most effective starting point for lesson and appropriate level to begin new instruction Include first survey as part of course syllabus- make it the first assignment; attach subsequent surveys to assignments
Focused Listening Focus students' attention on single term or important concept from a lesson or unit To determine what students recall as the most important points from the lesson or unit Ask students to summarize the lesson/unit using a single term or concept
Misconception/Pre-conception Check Gather information on prior knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes To discover misconception of false knowledge; to discover beliefs or attitudes that might prevent learning "Tell me what you know about..." select random students to respond; ask each student to respond round-robin style; ask each student to write one paragraph
Empty Outlines Provide student with empty or partially completed outline of class lecture, presentation, or homework To ascertain how well the important points of the lesson/lecture were captured by students After the presentation or lecture, ask students to fill in the missing pieces of the outline or to create an outline in class or as homework
Memory Matrix A rectangle divided into rows and columns to organize information and to provide a visual illustration of relationships To assess recall of course content and skill at organizing and categorizing Complete as a class activity in preparation for quiz or test; use as a homework assignment; use as an in-class team activity
Minute Paper Request students to respond in two or three minutes to either of these questions: "What was the most important thing you leaned during this session/unit?" or "What questions do you have that remain unanswered?" To quickly collect written feedback on student learning and effectiveness of learning activities Complete as a class activity- use remaining class time to answer questions; use responses as a means to facilitate class discussion
Muddiest Point Ask students to respond the following question: "What is your muddiest point in...?" To reveal the concept that students find least clear or most confusing about a specific activity/lesson Same as minute paper

source: Fenton, C. and B. Watkins (2008) Learner-Centered Assessment: Real Strategies for Today's Students. The Cross Papers 11, 1-46.