Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Performance-Based Prior Knowledge Assessments

The most reliable way to assess students’ prior knowledge is to assign a task (e.g., quiz, paper) that gauges their relevant background knowledge.

These assessments are for diagnostic purposes only, and they should not be graded. They can help you gain an overview of students’ preparedness, identify areas of weakness, and adjust the pace of the course.

To create a performance-based prior knowledge assessment, you should begin by identifying the background knowledge and skills that students will need to succeed in your class. Your assessment can include tasks or questions that test students’ capabilities in these areas.

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