Background Knowledge Probe

This is very important strategy that uses to examine knowledge, skills, recall, and understanding. It is also very important to create appropriate challenge for motivating students in active learning.  Learning activities which are too boring or too hard do not encourage many students in active learning. In many instances, such learning activities lead to disengagement. Background knowledge probe is known as a class room management technique that instructors can use to examine the background knowledge of students. This strategy assists instructors to determine the most appropriate level of instruction at the beginning of the class. In applying this strategy in the class room, instructors prepare a focused questionnaire at the beginning of the new class or new topic and students to answer such questions. This strategy helps instructors to identify the suitable starting point for the class. It also helps instructors to design additional learning activities for students who do not have sufficient knowledge. Furthermore, based on the outcome of the test, instructors can design more challenging work for students who are well prepared for learning activities. This strategy also leads students to memorize their previous knowledge and so that they are able to interpret and give meaning to new information. In applying this strategy, an instructor should use following steps:

(i)  Before starting the lesson, an instructor should know what students have already   known about the topic or new concept. At this point, an instructor should prepare a list what students want to know by participating in this lecture.

(ii)  Based on the list, an instructor should prepare a two or three open ended questions to     determine the current knowledge of students. In doing so, an instructor should avoid the use  of technical terms that are unfamiliar to students.

(iii)  An instructor can use white board or handout to present those questions for students.

(iv)  An instructor should provide clear instruction for students about the purpose of this      exercise. It is also important to give assurance for students that their answers will not be     graded.

(v)    When students provide answers to questions, form small groups to share their responses.



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