A history of assessment in medical education

Lambert W.T. Schuwirth, Cees P.M. van der Vleuten

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    34 Citations (Scopus)


    The way quality of assessment has been perceived and assured has changed considerably in the recent 5 decades. Originally, assessment was mainly seen as a measurement problem with the aim to tell people apart, the competent from the not competent. Logically, reproducibility or reliability and construct validity were seen as necessary and sufficient for assessment quality and the role of human judgement was minimised. Later, assessment moved back into the authentic workplace with various workplace-based assessment (WBA) methods. Although originally approached from the same measurement framework, WBA and other assessments gradually became assessment processes that included or embraced human judgement but based on good support and assessment expertise. Currently, assessment is treated as a whole system problem in which competence is evaluated from an integrated rather than a reductionist perspective. Current research therefore focuses on how to support and improve human judgement, how to triangulate assessment information meaningfully and how to construct fairness, credibility and defensibility from a systems perspective. But, given the rapid changes in society, education and healthcare, yet another evolution in our thinking about good assessment is likely to lurk around the corner.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1045-1056
    Number of pages12
    JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


    • Assessment
    • History
    • Programmatic assessment
    • Workplace based assessment


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