Why Use Knowledge Surveys?
Knowledge surveys are indispensable tools for instructors and for students, and may aid departments with curriculum design.
For instructors, the benefits are of several types. First, developing and using the surveys forces an instructor to make sure that course content, course goals, and course assessments are all aligned. Second, the surveys allow instructors to assess how much students know going into a course, to measure how much learning is occurring, and to evaluate overall success after a course is completed. So, the surveys aid basic course design, facilitate mid-course corrections, and provide information for summative assessment.
For students, the surveys serve as valuable study guides. They provide students with full disclosure of the course objectives and allow students to focus learning in areas of importance. Additionally, by making learning more "visible" they help students develop self-assessment skills, and to better develop the habits of the mind that lead to successful life long learning.
Knowledge surveys also provide fundamental information that can guide curriculum development/modification, and that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of alternative pedagogies.