How diagnostic assessments can help faculty ‘read the room’

As educators, how often do we step back and ask ourselves: Where are my learners at? What do they already know? What approach might I use to teach new course content? What will help me make the right instructional choices?

Diagnostic assessments can answer these questions. More specifically, they can: 

  • help us make informed choices about the what, the how and the why of our teaching. 
  • identify our learners’ knowledge, skills, attitudes, and so on.
  • provide us with insights on how to plan/modify/customize instruction.

Some examples of diagnostic assessments are multiple-choice questions, short answers, mind maps or journal writing.

A diagnostic assessment is often:

  • given at the beginning of the course, unit, lesson or semester.
  • used before and after instruction. Learners are given identical tests before and after the course/unit/lesson to gauge learning.
  • a low-stakes assessment that does not count as a grade.
  • informal and easy-to-use.

So, why not give diagnostic assessment a try to improve the learning experience in your class and to adapt your own teaching to match learner needs?

Quick Tech Tip

Did you know that you can embed feeds from social media sites like Twitter or Pinterest onto your SLATE homepage? 

Check out the SLATE help pages on embedding a Pinterest Board or a Twitter Feed to learn how to include this in your course homepage!

This article was provided by Sheridan’s Centre for Teaching and Learning.

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