Diagnostic Questions in Maths Teaching

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Using questions to probe what pupils do, and do not, understand

About. This resource provides a link to the Math Centre 'diagnostic test' pages, which provide examples of assessment questions to probe student's particular areas of understanding, and weakness on the topics available. Diagnostic tests can provide useful insight into the specific problems learners experience in a given topic - for example, whether they stuggle with particular types of fraction, or operations on fractions. These tests may be useful in their own right - particularly for older learners - but are also a useful resource to explore effective ways to use diagnostic tests in teaching.

Pedagogical content. These questions provide a useful starting point from which to think about the use of diagnostic questions(ta) for assessment(ta) for learning and whole class(ta) dialogic teaching(ta). They may be useful for teachers in their own right as sample questions, or to think about the best way to deliver feedback, use ICT tools effectively, and support learners through assessment. In this context the questions should be considered with a critical eye. Teachers might like to think about:

  • The interface, and the way the questions are presented (could the questions be labelled better, appear better, what is the functionality like, etc.?)
  • The style of questions asked
  • The sort of feedback given, both on individual questions, and overall on the completion of the quizzes

Teachers might take this as an opportunity to engage in sharing practice(ta) to think about how to use such questions in the classroom - perhaps using mini-whiteboards(tool) or ICT tools - and outside of them, perhaps using quiz(tool) or voting(tool) software. (edit)

Resource details
Title Diagnostic Questions in Maths Teaching
Topic Assessment
Teaching approach
Learning Objectives

To consider

  • How diagnostic questions may be a useful assessment technique;
  • Some particular exams of diagnostic questions, and their application;
  • The best ways to write such questions for effective learning and feedback, through critical examination of the examples provided.
Format / structure

Web link with 'flash' based quizes embedded on pages.

Age of students / grade

Related ORBIT Wiki Resources
Files and resources to view and download

The link http://www.mathcentre.ac.uk/search/?q=%22diagnostic+test%22 contains a search on the www.mathcentre.ac.uk for "diagnostic test" - which brings up all such resources on the site.


The resources on the math centre website are licensed under a Creative Commons, attribution, no derivatives, non-commercial licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/uk/)