Assessment Using Knowledge Surveys

What are Knowledge Surveys?

Knowledge Surveys consist of a series of questions that cover the full content of a course. The surveys evaluate student learning and content mastery at all levels: from basic knowledge and comprehension through higher levels of thinking.

Knowledge surveys can serve as both formative and summative assessment tools. They help students learn, help faculty improve their classrooms, and aid departments and programs as the explore new curricula or pedagogies. (Wirth and Perkins), Knowledge Surveys

  • For step-by-step instructions, further explanation and examples see Knowledge Surveys
  • Edward Nuhfer (Idaho State University) and Delores Knipp (United States Air Force Academy), 2003, The Knowledge Survey: A Tool for All Reasons is a good concise overview of knowledge surveys.

Sample Knowledge Survey Questions from Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

  • Bloom's Taxonomy Level - 1: What is the definition of a formation?
  • Bloom's Taxonomy Level - 2: Outline the basic descriptive parameters needed to characterize sedimentary rocks in detail.
  • Bloom's Taxonomy Level - 3: Explain why the stratigraphic records of transgression and regression are commonly disproportionate (asymmetrical)?
  • Bloom's Taxonomy Level - 4: Explain the concepts of transgression and regression.
  • Bloom's Taxonomy Level - 5: Compare and contrast sequence stratigraphy with other types of stratigraphic analysis.
  • Bloom's Taxonomy Level - 6: Evaluate alluvial architecture in relation to basin subsidence.

Example Knowledge Survey Questions

Geoscience Examples

  • Utility of Knowledge Surveys and their Design (PowerPoint 2.7MB May18 05)
    Dexter Perkins (University of North Dakota), Karl Wirth (Macalester College), Ed Nuhfer (Idaho State University), presentation at the Student Learning: Observing and Assessing Workshop. 
    Abstract of the Presentation: Knowledge surveys are indispensable tools for instructors and for students. They aid instructors as they design courses. The surveys also facilitate mid-course corrections to promote better learning and provide robust and reliable measures of learning outcomes. The surveys provide students with full disclosure of the course objectives and serve as study guides. By making learning more "visible" they help students develop self-assessment skills. Knowledge surveys also provide fundamental information that can guide curriculum development/modification, and that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of alternative pedagogies. In this session we will work in groups as we examine the utility of knowledge surveys and review the ways they are created and used.]

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