This research examines the practices used in assessing students' competencies in the European Higher Education Area. The main objective is to describe the current situation in the Spanish universities, concentrating upon the following questions: what are the most common assessment practices used by academics; how do university academics evaluate their own assessment practices; who employs competency-based assessment, and how do they do it; who are the actors involved in competency-based assessment practices; and what are the strengths and weaknesses of the competency-based practices. The methodology uses both qualitative and quantitative approaches, including the face-to-face administration of a questionnaire to a sample of university academics. The results detected a lack of utilisation of participative techniques as ways of collecting information about student competencies. The results have shown that teachers' decisions on assessment strategies are closely related to the opportunities and limitations offered by normative and institutional decisions. The study provides a better understanding of the present situation in Spanish universities and we suggest possible changes to improve the implementation of the competencies assessment model in the context of the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.
- Higher education