Assessment on programme level

At the programme level alignment of assessment methods between courses takes place by comparing and combining characteristics of single assessments. Hence, at the course level not every ILO is assessed comprehensively, and not every single assessment method can be maximally valid, reliable, and transparent. Yet, these three main principles of assessment should apply as much as possible to the assessment plan on programme level.

At the programme level the overview of assessment methods must lead to an assessment programme which as a whole comprehensively measures the ILOs in a reliable, valid, and transparent way. Additionally the resources and infrastructure (such as time, money, staff, equipment, facilities, and information technology support) should be taken into account when selecting an assessment method.

To guide decision taking in assessment five basic questions can be used as a guide in thinking about assessment methods:

  1. Why do (or should?) you assess?
  2. What do you assess?
  3. How do you assess?
  4. When do you assess?
  5. Who does the assessing?

Why should we assess?

The question to ask yourself as an assessor: What is the purpose of the exam in relation to the teaching and learning activities and the intended learning outcomes?

Assessment can have different purposes:

  1. Determining whether a student has achieved a particular learning outcome (competency). This is often called assessment of learning at the end of a course or programme;
  2. Stimulating learning behaviour of a student, e.g. by providing feedback to students. This is often called assessment for learning during the course or programme;
  3. Information about the course (teaching and learning activities) which can be used to improve education.

What should we assess?

The obvious answer is that assessment methods should measure the ILOs. However, in practice this turns out to be less obvious, for two reasons:

  1. Not all ILOs are easy to measure and as a result are not covered by the assessment methods.
  2. Not all ILOs can be measured with one method or at one moment. Or vice versa, an assessment method can measure more than one ILO. Reducing the assessment programme to a 1:1 matrix (one method for one ILO), does not reflect the complexity of the ILOs (or competencies).

How should we assess?

The assessment programme as a whole should be a purposeful mix of assessment activities that optimally contribute to the main purpose of the assessment at the programme level. In most cases assessment of learning is the most important purpose, determining whether or not a student receives a degree. However, single instruments can (and must) also serve other purposes.

When do you assess?

At the programme level there are modular courses (specific period) and longitudinal courses (during a longer phase; e.g. an academic year). In both types of courses it can be useful to assess during the course and not only at the end of the course. The longer the period, the more important it is to assess at multiple times. For the formative function (assessment for learning) it is also more important to assess timely to ensure the possibility (time) for learning.

See Assessment Methods on Course Level for details on when to assess within a course.

Who should do the assessing?

Depending on faculty, terminology and organization – actors responsible for the assessment on programme level can be the director of studies, programme coordinators, and course coordinators concerned.

In case of a longitudinal course in a Bachelor’s programme, actors involved may be the director of studies, the bachelor coordinator and course coordinators concerned. Their tasks:

  1. to determine the ILOs and the programme and alignment of assessments overall;
  2. to have an overview of all used assessments of the longitudinal course and to check regularly whether are assessments are aligned with the ILOs.

If the purpose is to control whether students may receive a degree after they finished the whole programme and therefore meet all requirements, the board of examiners is in charge of control.

Assessing Employability ILOs


Think whether the programme aids the student to:

  • Be employable in the long-term
  • Require employability competencies
  • Achieve a sufficient level of soft skills