Tour Through the Solar System

Pre-Lesson: Knowledge Surveys

What is a knowledge survey? A knowledge survey consists of a series of questions that cover the range of material that will be taught over the entire course. The questions are divided into the various levels of Bloom's taxonomy and cover various levels of understanding within the cognitive domain beginning with knowledge through comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Knowledge surveys can serve as both formative and summative assessment tools. Hence, we recommend students take the knowledge survey twice: Once before each lesson (or at the start of the course) and again at the end of each lesson (or at the end of the course). If giving the knowledge surveys at the star and end of the course, simply combine all the knowledge surveys from each lesson into a large survey.

The intent of the survey is three fold: 1) To evaluate what the students know and asses their confidence in how well they know it; 2) illustrate the importance of learning at a deeper level by giving students questions that require a response that addresses the higher levels of understanding; and 3) provide a means of assessing students' learning gains from the course without producing test anxiety.

Benefits of using a knowledge survey: First, it provides students a roadmap of the entire course upfront with more detail than a syllabus. Students see explicit questions, and thus have a more complete idea of what material they are expected to learn. Second, teachers will see what topics students struggle withand which topics students have mastered. This allows the teacher to allocate class time most effectively to match the students learning needs. Third, the survey serves as a learning guide and confidence builder. Each progressive taking of the survey allows the student to see how much s/he has learned, which in turn builds their confidence. And finally, it facilitates a deeper level of learning by requiring students to do more than just rote memorization. Many students have spent their entire scholastic career focused mainly on memorizing facts, which is the lowest level of comprehension. Requesting that students apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate what they have learned challenges them to understand the material to a higher cognitive level. With higher cognitive learning, the material stays with the student long after the final exam is taken.

For more information on or examples of knowledge surveys or Bloom's taxonomy click here.

All files for this lesson are contained in a compressed file. Click or select "save link as" on the link below and a compressed file called will download to you computer. Your computer may uncompress the file automatically or it may require you to open it, which will serve to uncompress the file. When using WinZip be sure to select all files then select "extract" to uncompress the files. After the file is uncompressed you will have a directory called Intro_KS.

Intro to Knowledge Surveys