Continuous assessment means ‘the regular evaluation of the learning process’. This form of testing can be counted in whole, in part or not at all in the students’ final scores.


Why should permanent tests be used? What are the advantages?

The ultimate objective of continuous assessment is to increase the learning effect. Research (Dochy & McDowell, 1997) has indicated that continuous assessment has a greater learning effect than does test only at the end of the learning process. Several reasons have been stated:

  • Students are ‘required’ to work with the course material from the start. It is not possible for them to suffice with only a final sprint right before the examination period.
  • In addition to starting to work with the course material earlier, they must work with it more.
  • Learning is guided by testing. Teachers can urge students to participate in appropriate learning activities in a timely manner.
  • It is possible to follow the progress of students throughout the module. This makes it possible to use feedback to redirect students.

When to use

What can actually be permanently evaluated? We distinguish six forms of continuous assessment:

  • Participation
    The assessment of such aspects as effort, enthusiasm, showing initiative, asking/answering questions, participation during discussions, submission of assignments, participation during exercises or practicals.
  • Knowledge and skills
    Determining whether students have mastered the knowledge or skills of a section of the course material.
  • Working attitude
    Certain attitudes can also be assessed, including critical capacity, independence, accuracy, responsibility, proper/careful use of tools, order/neatness and respect for safety regulations.
  • Group process
    In addition to the processes of individual students, the group process can be assessed. Examples could include the evaluation of cooperative skills or functioning in teams during practicals/reports (using peer assessment and other sources).
  • Progress
    The progress that students make can also be assessed. For example, the development of certain techniques or skills could be monitored, as could increasing facility/agility in performing an exercise.
  • Attendance
    The evaluation of attendance at or absence from lectures is often frequently listed as a form of continuous assessment. One important comment in this regard, however, is that actually awarding points for attendance poses problems for the validity of the testing. Attendance could be included in the testing as a conditional criterion. For example, if called for by the teaching method, 75% attendance can be expected without being associated with any points.

Finally, we refer to the importance of clear communication to students with regard to the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of continuous assessment.