Pre-assessment: Gauging students' preparedness for Sedimentary Geology

Lawrence D. Lemke
Wayne State University
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Initial Publication Date: June 27, 2006 | Reviewed: November 3, 2013


This activity presents a process for assessing (1) students' educational background and field experience related to sedimentary geology, and (2) students' familiarity with selected concepts and terminology of sedimentary geology and their ability to apply simple mathematical skills to relevant problems.

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I use the pre-assessment quiz in an undergraduate required course in sedimentology and stratigraphy. I use adapted versions of the student background survey in many of my geology courses, including sed/strat, hydrogeology, and an introductory physical geology course for non-majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered


How the activity is situated in the course

The survey and quiz are given to students on the first day of class. The quiz is not for credit and does not count toward the students' course grade.

I often ask students to retake the assessment quiz on the last day of class after course evaluations. This provides me with a measure of their learning and retention of course subject matter.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Instructor assessment of student preparedness to study sedimentary geology and stratigraphy.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This activity does not attempt to engage students' higher order thinking skills. Rather, it is a tool to ascertain students' ability to recall and apply basic skills in algebra, trigonometry, and physics. It also attempts to sample students' familiarity with and ability to recall geologic terms related to sedimentology and stratigraphy.

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

This activity provides examples of (1) a student experience survey and (2) an assessment quiz that can be used on the first day of class. The survey reveals students' backgrounds in terms of related coursework, computer skills, and geologic experiences that the instructor can draw upon throughout the semester. The quiz gives helps to determine students' familiarity with selected concepts and terminology of sedimentary geology and their ability to apply simple mathematical skills (algebra and trig) to relevant problems. Both tools can be used to identify students who may need extra attention early in the course and to plan for supplementary instructional sessions on topics for which many students are deficient.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Visual inspection of quiz results and compilation of student survey responses allow the instructor to ascertain student readiness for learning sedimentary geology on an individual and collective basis.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

A poster (Acrobat (PDF) 322kB Aug12 06) based on this activity was presented at the Teaching Sedimentary Geology Workshop. See other posters from this workshop.