A type of quality assurance process under which services and operations of post-secondary educational institutions or programmes are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met. The accredited status will be granted by the agency if all standards are met. See also NVAO Dutch accreditation framework.

The systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programmes undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development. Find out more about assessment and Constructive Alignment here.

  • Direct assessment of learning
    Occurs when measures of learning are based on student performance or demonstrates the learning itself. Scoring performance on tests, papers, or the execution of lab skills are examples of direct assessment of learning.
  • Indirect assessment of learning
    Uses perceptions, reflections or secondary evidence to make inferences about student learning. For example, surveys of employers, students’ self-assessments, and grades are indirect evidence of learning.
  • Formative assessment
    The gathering of information or data about student learning during a course or program that is used to guide improvements in teaching and learning. Formative assessment activities are usually low-stakes or no-stakes; they do not contribute substantially to the final evaluation or grade of the student or may not even be assessed at the individual student level. For example, posing a question in class and asking for a show of hands in support of different response options would be a formative assessment at the class level. Observing how many students responded incorrectly would be used to guide further teaching.
  • Summative Assessment
    The gathering of information at the conclusion of a course or programme to improve learning or to meet accountability demands. Example: examining student final exams in a course to see if certain specific areas of the curriculum were understood less well than others.


All instruments or activities that are used to determine the competency level of a student.
(I.e. testing to what extent an ILO is achieved). Find out more about assessment tasks and Constructive Alignment here.

An analytical approach that allows faculty to identify important components of program curricula, place them in relation to each other in a visual format, and then capture an overarching curricular structure to support cognitive scaffolding for further analysis. A curriculum map is a visual tool that can be used to introduce new students and faculty to the programme, curriculum discussion, accreditation requirements, and provides an approach to systematically study the curriculum. Curriculum mapping is especially helpful in implementing an assessment plan.


The Dublin Descriptors are the cycle descriptors (or “level descriptors”) adopted in 2005 as the Qualifications Framework of the European Higher Education Area. They function as generic statements of expectations of achievements and abilities associated with awards that represent the end of each of a (Bologna) cycle or level. The Dublin Descriptors are phrased in terms of competence levels, not learning outcomes, and they enable to distinguish in a broad and general manner between the different cycles. More information about the Dublin Descriptors can be found here.

Synonym: subject-specific learning outcomes. Final qualifications are sometimes treated as synonymous with Intended Learning Outcomes on a Programme level; though ILOs express more concrete what a student should acquire during his/her studies. Find out more about final qualifications and CoAl here.


Objectives or operational statements describing specific student behaviours that evidence the acquisition of desired knowledge, skills, abilities, capacities, attitudes or dispositions. ILOs can be usefully thought of as behavioural criteria for determining whether students are achieving the educational objectives of a programme, and whether overall programme goals are being successfully met.

The objectives are written from the students’ perspective and can be defined on three levels: the institute (i.e. faculty or UM); the programme (or study); course (or module, unit, block).
ILOs are sometimes treated as synonymous with final qualifications (or objectives); though final qualifications are usually more general statements of what students are expected to achieve in an academic programme. Read more about ILOs and CoAl here.

The NVAO explains this framework as follows: This is a system in which: a. institutional quality assurance assessments bolster an institution-wide internal quality culture; b. programme accreditations focus on the essence of the education provided: (improving) substantive quality; c. a proper balance is achieved between assessing programmes on the one hand and quality improvement on the other.” (NVAO, 2014, p.6). The NVAO framework is updated regularly. You can find the latest version (2018) of the NVAO framework can be found here.

UM has an institutional accreditation and therefore only a limited programme assessment is required for accreditation. This implies that 4 standards need to be met: (1) Intended Learning Outcomes, (2) Teaching-learning environment, (3) Assessment, (4) Achieved learning outcomes.

According to the limited framework for programme assessment (NVAO, 2016, p.16)

  • Intended learning outcomes
    Standard 1: The intended learning outcomes tie in with the level and orientation of the programme; they are geared to the expectations of the professional field, the discipline, and international requirements.
    Explanation: As for level and orientation (Bachelor’s or Master’s; professional or academic), the intended learning outcomes fit into the Dutch qualifications framework. In addition, they tie in with the international perspective of the requirements currently set by the professional field and the discipline with regard to the contents of the programme. Insofar as is applicable, the intended learning outcomes are in accordance with relevant legislation and regulations.
  • Teaching-learning environment
    Standard 2: The curriculum, the teaching-learning environment and the quality of the teaching staff enable the incoming students to achieve the intended learning outcomes.
    Explanation: The contents and structure of the curriculum enable the students admitted to achieve the intended learning outcomes. The quality of the staff and of the programme-specific services and facilities is essential to that end. 
  • Assessment
    Standard 3: The programme has an adequate system of student assessment in place.
    Explanation: The tests and assessments are valid, reliable and transparent to the students. The programme’s examining board safeguards the quality of the interim and final tests administered.
  • Achieved learning outcomes
    Standard 4: The programme demonstrates that the intended learning outcomes are achieved.
    Explanation: The level achieved is demonstrated by interim and final tests, final projects and the performance of graduates in actual practice or in post-graduate programmes.


PBL is UM’s teaching philosophy. It is a pedagogy based on the principle that learning should be a constructive, semi-structured, collaborative, and contextual process. During the learning process competences such as self-directed learning, problem-solving, analytical thinking, team work, critical reflection, and knowledge application are trained. Find out more about problem-based learning here.

Scoring tools that explicitly represent the performance expectations for an assignment or piece of work. A rubric divides the assigned work into component parts and provides clear descriptions of the characteristics of the work associated with each component, at varying levels of mastery. Rubrics can be used for a wide array of assignments: papers, oral presentations, artistic performances, group projects, etc. Rubrics can be used as scoring or grading guides, to provide formative feedback to support and guide ongoing learning efforts, or both.


SOLO stands for Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome. The SOLO taxonomy classifies learning outcomes in terms of their complexity and enables one to assess the work of students in terms of quality rather than assessing in terms of quantity and how many parts of an assessment students got right. In addition, SOLO is useful in the (re)design of the curriculum with regard to intended learning outcomes. Find out more about SOLO taxonomy here.

All educational formats that are used to achieve the intended learning outcomes, independent of the assessment. Find out more about TLAs and CoAl here.