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Knowledge of the Audience about your topic

Knowledge of the Audience about your topic

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Define the three types of knowledgeability: prior, formative, and summative

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Tutorial
KEY POINTS
  • Discovering knowledgeability, the state or condition of possessing knowledge, involves careful assessment by the speaker prior to, during and after the speech.

  • Assess prior knowledge (what your audience already knows) so that you can adjust your content. Ask yourself: How much does my audience already know about my topic? Where do you start you explanation?

  • Assess formative knowledge (knowledge forming in the mind of the audience during the speech) to adjust what you are saying. . If your audience is confused, try again to explain what you were saying in different words or with better supporting examples.

  • Assess summative knowledge at the end of or after your presentation to find out what your audience knows or beliefs after your speech.

Discovering Three Types of Knowledgeability

Discovering knowledgeability, the state or condition of possessing knowledge, involves careful assessment of the audience by the speaker prior to, during, and after the speech. The speaker wants to think about and contemplate the world of the audience to understand what they know.



What is Knowledge?

Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something, which can include facts, information, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education, as evidenced here in Rodin's sculpture, The Thinker.

Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something, which can include facts,information, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. It can be implicit (as with practical skill or expertise) or explicit (as with the theoretical understanding of a subject); it can also be more or less formal or systematic. In this case, knowledgeability is the condition or state of knowing by the members of the audience. The audience may know more about one topic and less about another. The types of knowledge are also different--the audience may know about something but not know how to use the know to actually do something.


There are at least three types of knowledgeability: Prior, formative, and summative. To distinguish the three one might think about a cook. A cook gathers the ingredients (prior), tastes the soup while it is cooking (formative), and lets the diner judge it at the end (summative).


Prior Knowledge

Prior knowledge is the knowledge that the audience already has about your topic. If your idea or concept is unfamiliar to the audience you may assume that they know nothing and start from the very beginning. However, you may want to "pre-assess" your audience to see how much they know so that you can adjust your content to the level of understanding. Where do you start you explanation? How much does your audience already know about about your topic? You don't want to explain things that everyone already knows about and bore most of the audience, yet at the same time you want to make sure that everyone does understand your ideas. You want the audience to leave with an understanding which was greater than when they walked into the room or turned on their computer to listen to your speech.


Formative Knowledge

Formative knowledge is the knowledge that is forming in the mind of the audience during the speech. It is the what the audience is learning (or not learning) during your speech. You may assess understanding with a simple question and answer session or you may find it useful to use an Audience Response System at different points in the speech to ask the audience short, quick questions to see where they are at that point. If you see confused looks on the faces of audience members or turning to neighbors with questions, you know that you need to try again to explain what you were saying in different words or with better supporting examples.


Summative Knowledge

Summative knowledge is the knowledge that the audience leaves with after your speech. What is the level of understanding at the end of your speech? Do they know more or can they do something which they could not do before the speech? Again you may ask the audience to complete a short questionnaire at the end or use an Audience Response System with automatic result tabulation to see how the audience has changed.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • knowledge

    familiarity or understanding of a particular skill, branch of learning, etc.

  • summative

    of, pertaining to, or produced by summation. The adding up of what has been learned or what knowledge has been acquired at the end of lesson or presentation

  • formative

    of or pertaining to the formation and subsequent growth of something. acquired