The first question that comes up when discussing assessment of Work-based Learning programmes is whether or not they should be assessed. The answer to this question depends, of course, on the type of the WBL programme, on its duration and its objectives, but in general, if there is no assessment it will be very hard for stakeholders to know whether or not the learning objectives of the programme were satisfied and to what extent. Assessment of WBL programmes that are part of Vocational Education and Training provides crucial feedback on their contribution to the students’ VET Education course and on the satisfaction of their learning objectives and personal goals. It is a way to ensure the quality of the WBL experience and to provide information about its contribution to the student’s training. Assessment is even more important if there is formal recognition provided for participants. However, even if formal recognition is not provided, assessment is essential, as it can be used to check progress and to identify any problems that may come up and correct them during the implementation of the programme.
As a result of the aforementioned, it is crucial to agree on an assessment strategy on the outset of the WBL training programme. This strategy has, of course, to take into consideration any official assessment policies that apply for WBL training. The nature of WBL makes assessment processes less easy to follow due to the nature of learning in WBL programmes, which usually has to do with real-life and live working situations. Nevertheless, most of the principles that apply to in-classroom assessment methods could also apply to WBL programmes. Thus, it is important after creating a solid individual learning plan and setting up clearly defined learning goals to decide on a strategy of evaluating the progression. It is advised that this strategy will have the form of achievement recognition rather than inspection. Only then should the participants engage in the assessment with enthusiasm.
The periodicity of the assessment depends on the duration of the programme. It is true that if the assessment takes place too often, it may create potential disruption for participants. On the other hand, periodical assessment provides better quality assurance. The type of the assessment can also vary considerably depending on each WBL programme; it can be formal, semi-formal or informal, and it can take the form of theoretical or practical tests, working tasks, projects, diaries, presentations, observations, etc. One more factor to be taken into consideration is who will be responsible for the assessment. If it is done exclusively by the tutor, employers may feel that they do not have authority over the programme and students may find the experience too similar to the in-school assessment. In addition, students will be discouraged from starting to self-assess their progress. As a result, it is crucial that participants agree on an assessment method that will work for them and will add value to the whole experience.