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Examination is an important part of the students’ learning processes, as it defines what the students should focus on, how they spend their time and also in many ways how they assess themselves (“Backwash effect”, Biggs 2007). It is therefore important to be clear on how your teaching relates to the assessment, before choosing the exam form, as different exam forms assess different types of learning objectives – and therefore promote different types of learning.

When teaching innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E), different learning objectives concerning knowledge, skill-sets and competencies are involved, which can cause particular challenges in relation to your course’s exam forms and assessment criteria.

Innovation and entrepreneurship is characterized by iterative and experimental processes, where problems are redefined several times along the way, and where ideas and solutions are continually developed, tested and change direction. Processes that to some extent are characterized by unpredictability, mistakes or coincidences, which the students must continually address and learn from. This can be challenging in academic contexts, especially in connection with exams and predefined learning objectives and assessment criteria.

Our recommendation is therefore that the teacher communicates very clearly to the students what they are assessed on, and what they are not assessed on (see below “On feedback”). At the examination, it must be possible to be assessed based on the formally stated learning objectives. This does not apply to the course description to the same extent. Here you can have stated goals and learning objectives, e.g. co-operation, that are not explicitly assessed at the examination.

It may also be a good idea to prepare and define the assessment criteria together with the students during the course. This can help create good prerequisites for letting the students be part of and learn from their involvement in I&E processes.

There is a lot of material available on exam forms, both related to teaching in general and specifically related to I&E teaching; some of these materials are available in the links at the bottom.

Download materials for inspiration

List of a selection of different I&E exam forms

o   A report prepared in collaboration between the 2016 project on I&E at the University of Copenhagen and the Foundation for Entrepreneurship and the Universities ‘ I&E-pedagogical Network (UNIEN): Assessment and evaluation in innovation and entrepreneurship teaching at Danish universities

o   The VUE Diagram where you can find a list of the exam forms that are suitable for testing different types of general learning objectives

In I&E teaching, it is important for the student to know what he or she is receiving feedback on – therefore the feedback must be domain-specific (Hattie & Timperley 2007):

• Assignment Feedback: Information and activities with the purpose of clarifying and strengthening aspects related to assignment solving

• Process Feedback: Focuses on what the students can do to make progress in their work

• Self-regulation feedback: Focuses on meta-cognitive elements, including how the student can evaluate the strategies he or she uses, e.g. in connection to group work

• Self-Feedback: Focuses on personal traits and qualities, e.g. what role the student assumes during group work

It is important that the focus is on formative evaluations, i.e. feedback that focuses on what the students need to be able to move forward towards a solution. This is in contrast to summative evaluations, which focus on what the student has achieved. Therefore, the evaluation should not only focus on providing feedback on what the students have done, but rather focus on what the next steps could be (feed-forward). E.g. “What are you planning to do next? – Why?”

In I&E teaching, the teacher often has a more facilitating role compared to other teaching situations.
The feedback therefore more often contain information on what the students need to know or what they need to move forward. Based on the feedback given, the I&E teacher should adjust their facilitation of the innovative or entrepreneurial processes.

When teaching innovation and entrepreneurship, the teacher must first and foremost make clear how the students’ solutions, process and methodology reflections are weighted and assessed. The teacher can therefore consider if it would be better to evaluate/assess the students’ reflections on the different feedback they have received. The exam form should be able to credit the innovation and originality that are expected from the students’ solutions. This can be a challenge if the students’ solutions are ahead of their time and radically different from the teacher and the external examiner are familiar with or expects.
In this respect, it is important to address:

• Who is able to assess the solutions?

• To what extent should external actors (e.g. customers, companies or organizations) be involved in the students’ projects, and in what way? Should they provide feedback, test prototypes or help co-create solutions? And how would that effect the assessment?

• And should this interaction take place as part of the teaching activities, where the students extract knowledge and experience they can use at the exam?

• External stakeholders provide feedback on and challenge the value of the students’ solutions. Should this be included in the exam in some way or another? Or is it more preferable to keep a certain distance to external actors when it comes to the exam?

• Or is it the teacher who provides feedback, e.g. on academic aspects of the students’ solution? How is this “academic” feedback different from the feedback given by others? And how will this be taken into account in the assessment?

• How do you ensure a fair and equal assessment of the students’ individual contributions?


Biggs J and C. Tang (2007): Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Open University Press.

Hattie, J. & Timberley, H. (2007): The Power of Feedback, I: Review of Educational Research, vol. 81, nr. 77, pp 81-112

Hattie, J. (2009): Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analysis Relating to Achievement. New York: Routledge