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Instructional Assessment: Tools & Techniques

The following assessment techniques may be particularly well-suited for research or tool-based instruction sessions. This information has been adapted from Classroom Assessment Techniques by Angelo and Cross.

Pre-Class Assessment Tools

Background Knowledge Probe (Pre-Test)

A short questionnaire used to gather information on student's prior knowledge or experience with a particular topic. The instructor can tailor the content of a session to match areas of knowledge that students need to expand.

Misconception/Preconception Check

A questionnaire used anonymously to collect information on students' misconceptions and preconceptions that are likely to interfere with their learning.

Pre-Session Worksheet

A list of exercises or questions that students complete before the in-class instruction. Provides introductory information and an opportunity to practice a new skill set, freeing up time in class for review, deeper explanation of concepts, and exposure to more difficult material. Can be used on its own or in conjunction with a pre-test.

In-Class Assessment Tools

Concept Maps

Drawings or diagrams showing connections students make between concepts. May be used to teach or reinforce related or contrasting search strategies, or to compare and contrast sources.

Minute Paper / Muddiest Point

Students write a brief paragraph at the end of the instruction session answering questions such as "What was one new piece of information you learned and what is one question you still have?" or "What concept from this session was the most confusing?"


The instructor asks questions of the class in order to assess comprehension or to get instant feedback from students on particular concepts. If necessary, additional discussion or explanation can take place in-the-moment to clarify or reinforce concepts.

Pro and Con Grid

Students evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of an issue of mutual concern. Could be used to compare and evaluate various search strategies or information sources.

Post-Class Assessment Tools

Analytic Memo

A simulation exercise in which students write a 1-2 page analysis of a specific problem. Could be used to assess student's ability to understand, analyze and apply search strategies in various scenarios.

Assignment Review with Rubric

The instructor uses a pre-determined list of criteria to evaluate student's understanding and application of material presented in the instruction session. For example, read the final research papers and evaluate the list of sources cited to find out if students were able to locate, analyze and cite relevant research appropriately.


A partner piece to the pre-test, this tool allows the instrutor to compare student's knowledge after the instruction session with what they knew before.  This technique may inform post-instruction followup with the class or with specific students.

Self-Assessment / Self-Test

Similar to the Post-Test, but with a twist. Instead of sending their answers to the instructor, students evaluate their own understanding of a topic by comparing their answers to a set of correct answers provided by the instructor. Can be used to reinforce or clarify information.