Roadmap for assessment formats

Begin the design process by making the intended learning outcomes (ILO’s) of your course explicit – this will make it easier for you to make choices in the design process, and for students to understand the overall purpose of the course. 


Intended Learning Outcomes 
When?   Program level / Later course or Within course 
Which kind of knowledge is being assessed?   Declarative knowledge or Functioning knowledge 
Assessment of , as or  for learning?   Formative assessment or Summative assessment 
Formats of assessment 


  Formats for Declarative Knowledge 

Quizzes (e.g., closed questions, multiple choice) 

Open questions (focus on explaining or reproducing facts, dates, etc) 

Oral exam 

 Formats for Functioning Knowledge 

Open Book (or ‘Take Home’)  Exams 



Open questions (focus on application and analysis) 

Oral exam 


Program level / Later course or within course
Do your ILO’s need to be assessed during the course, or later? ILO’s connected to other modules in the programme (e.g. as prerequisite knowledge for other modules) may not need to be assessed formally; particularly not if assessment is being approached at programme level. 

Which kind of knowledge is being assessed? 

Declarative knowledge or Functioning knowledge 

  • ILO’s defined as declarative knowledge concern
    “knowledge about things, expressed in verbal or other symbolic form”: students can remember, recognize, recall, understand, identify, retrieve, classify, explain, compare… 
  • ILO’s defined as functioning knowledge concern
    “knowledge that informs action by the learner”: students can apply, implement, analyse, organize, evaluate, criticize, judge, create, design, hypothesize, design… 

Declarative knowledge is often prerequisite for functioning knowledge. Because of that, it may not be necessary to assess declarative knowledge separately, or ‘for a grade’. 

Assessment of , as or  for learning? 

Formative assessment or Summative assessment 

  • Formative assessment is aimed at providing insight in and feedback on the learning process. It is assessment for  learning. 
  • Summative assessment is (primarily) aimed at awarding educational attainment (e.g. grade, pass/fail ), it is assessment of learning. 

Both forms of assessment ideally come with feedback: even a score or grade provide basic insight in the learning process. However, formative assessment should be designed as feedback. Many  assessment formats can serve either purpose. 

Formats of assessment 

Formats for Declarative Knowledge 

  • Quizzes 
  • (e.g., closed questions, multiple choice) 
  • Open questions – focus on explaining or reproducing facts, dates, etc, 
  • Oral exam 

Formats for Functioning Knowledge 

  • Open Book (or ‘Take Home’)  Exams 
  • Paper 
  • Presentations 
  • Open questions – focus on application and analysis 
  • Oral exam 

A few important considerations as you make decisions about using a particular format of assessment: 

  • Functioning knowledge can be assessed in many ways, including multiple choice, but constructing a quiz with closed questions for testing this kind of knowledge will often be more time intensive. Declarative knowledge is best assessed using quizzes. 
  • Assessment of functioning and declarative knowledge can also be combined, e.g. when a presentation of ‘facts’ and ‘dates’ is mentioned as specific requirement within a paper or presentation. 
  • Time: Many formats of assessment can be used for both formative and summative assessment. The more open ended the assignment, the easier it will be to provide individualized feedback. More individualized feedback usually requires a bigger time investment. 
  • Within one course, several assessment purposes (formative or summative) and formats can be combined, not all assessment may need to be summative, which decreases the need for safeguarding authenticity. 
  • Authenticity (vs fraud) is critical in summative assessment, but not in formative assessment. Creating a plagiarism-proof online assessment format also requires a substantial amount of time.