Managing tensions in competency-based assessment: embracing complexity

Date:                    Sunday 25th August

Half Day:              0930-1230

Level:                    Intermediate/Advanced


  1. Claire Smith
  2. Tim Vincent
  3. CJ Taylor

Summary of theme and why it is important:  Competency-based assessment systems are bound to be rife with tensions as they must fulfil formative and summative assessment purposes; be efficient and effective; and meet needs of the learner, educational institutes as well as the patient and health care organizations. The way we respond to these tensions determines the fate of assessment practices and reform. Traditional approaches to assessment dilemmas often seek to find the single right answer to the problem, resulting in “either-or” discussions and solutions. Research findings indicate that these approaches to coping with multiple tensions are generally inadequate, as they fail to sustainably address the complexity of nowadays assessment systems.
In this workshop, we will outline that recurrent assessment tensions do not represent problems that can be solved, but polarities (e.g. different points of view or values) that need to be carefully managed. We will use key concepts of the Polarity ThinkingTM model to share and engage participants in discussions about alternative strategies for understanding, accepting and managing common tensions in assessment programmes. Participants will be challenged to adopt a ‘both-and’ mind-set rather than ‘either-or’ thinking when solving assessment problems. Participants will be invited to apply the model and to identify assessment strategies that will help them to sustainably address key dilemmas in their own assessment context. Concrete examples and tools (e.g. polarity maps) will be presented and discussed. 

Who should participate in the Pre-Conference Workshop? Educators, teachers, learners and others who are involved in design and implementation of competency-based assessment programmes, and who are interested in understanding and addressing common tensions and problems in competency-based assessment.

What will they gain from participating?  Participants will be challenged to reconsider their approaches to problem solving in assessment implementation and design. They will learn how to define common problems in assessment as tensions and to identify underlying polarities. Participants will gain skills to develop strategies that help them to embrace multiple viewpoints and values in assessment design, and to manage key dilemmas in complex programmes of assessment.

Cost: Euros 90 (includes coffee)

PLEASE NOTE: Pre-conference Workshop participants must also register for AMEE 2019 and pay the conference fee.


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