Background Knowledge Probe

Type of strategy: AssessmentWriting and/or Reflection

Use when you need to quickly assess the skills or knowledge levels of your audience members. This strategy is especially effective in a workshop that lasts several days or is delivered in multiple sessions.


  1. List topics you plan to address in your workshop on a handout with numbers 1-4 spaced to the right.
  2. Have participants circle the number that best reflects their knowledge level for each topic.
  3. Collect and read to determine the expertise of the group and if you need to modify instruction to best meet participant needs.
  4. Near the end of your workshop you may wish to have participants go back to the BKP and repeat step 2 using a different color pen or pencil, providing an opportunity for self-reflection.

NOTE: You should return the BKPs after reading them in step 3 so that they are ready for this step.

Submitted by: Jennifer Arns