Diagnostic Assessment

What is a Diagnostic Assessment?

A diagnostic assessment is a type of exam which is meant to measure students’ strengths, weaknesses, and understanding before instruction begins, and after it has concluded. They help instructors anticipate their students’ struggles and give them more individualized attention.

Diagnostic Assessments in Education

Diagnostic assessments are used as a barometer for student’s pre-existing knowledge on whatever topic is being studied. Instructors use the data collected from these assessments to design the upcoming course. Typically a diagnostic assessment is a basic overview of the knowledge contained in the course, meant to introduce students and measure how familiar they already are with the topic. Typically diagnostic assessments do not factor heavily into a students’ grade, as they are more meant to guide teachers as they design the course.

Some common types of diagnostic assessments are:

  • Short answer or multiple choice quizzes which get a snapshot of students’ prior knowledge.
  • A written assignment which asks students to explain their current understanding.
  • Identical assessments given at the beginning and end of a course which indicate how well knowledge has been gained.

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