Knowledge Surveys

Karl Wirth (1) and Dexter Perkins (2)
(1) Macalester College and (2) University of North Dakota
Knowledge Surveys consist of a series of questions that cover the full content of a course. The questions are designed to illustrate the different levels of understanding required for mastery of the content. Knowledge surveys can serve as both formative and summative assessment tools.

What learning is this evaluation activity designed to assess?

Knowledge surveys are designed to assess the knowledge or skill content of any course, unit, module, or activity. They can be used to assess student learning as well as to evaluate an entire course.

What is the nature of the teaching/learning situation for which your evaluation has been designed?

Knowledge surveys can be implemented in a variety of ways, but provide the most information when integrated throughout a course. The process of developing a knowledge surveys provides organization and clarity to course content and facilitates assessment and student learning. Students can complete a course knowledge survey at the beginning of a course. This provides baseline information about their preparation and knowledge. Students can then use the knowledge survey as a reading a study guide as they progress through course content. Portions of the knowledge survey can be administered just prior to each exam to help students assess their understanding and skills of self-assessment. The complete knowledge survey is typically administered at the end of a course to measure learning gains.

What advice would you give others using this evaluation?

Don't underestimate the value of the knowledge surveys for the instructor; the process of preparing one for a course is very instructive. Refer to the knowledge survey on a daily basis, both for preparing classroom activities, and to help students realize that this is a guide to their learning in the course.

Are there particular things about this evaluation that you would like to discuss with the workshop participants? Particular aspects on which you would like feedback?

Are there new ways that knowledge surveys might be implemented? Would there be value in having a national databank of knowledge survey questions?

Evaluation Materials

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