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Reaching back and reaching forward Assessment in ATLAS

Students are almost halfway through the academic year and normal bachelor’s programs have had their first week of exams. The grades that the students gain determine if the students are living up to the expectations. At University College Twente it works a bit differently because of the unique approach of assessment.

The program allows students to develop their own academic profile through the concept of self-directed learning. Each semester, every ATLAS student writes a Personal Development Plan (PDP). This document contains a description of the approach students intend to take to attain the goals specific to a semester. Self-directed learning becomes increasingly important in the course of the programme, as of the freedom increases. For that reason, it is essential for students to develop a clear view of the direction and make deliberate choices to ensure these fit their direction.

The end of the first quartile in ATLAS marks the time for a mid-term evaluation (MTE). The purpose of MTE for students is to evaluate their development of this semester so far by checking if they live up to the expectations of their PDP. Each student writes a short evaluation in which they reflect on their current progress. Afterwards, the staff from ATLAS discusses all the students and gives every single one of them a teacher evaluation. This indicates whether or not you are on track based on your progress for the semester goals and your personal evaluation.

After the mid-term evaluation, ATLAS has reach week: a week during which ATLAS does not schedule any educational activities. Students can reach back, or reach forward. Reaching back can be seen as catching up on work, for example improving calculus if that is a big struggle for a student. Instead of reaching back, students can also use the opportunity of reach week to reach forward, by doing more than the bachelor program of ATLAS expects by working ahead for a domain course; setting up your own academic project; doing extracurricular activities, etcetera.

One interesting example of a reach week is the one from Jelle who did some special activities besides studying. First of all, he has been working on his personal pursuit. The personal pursuit is a part of the ATLAS programme that allows students to pursue a passion in an academic way. This year, Jelle wants to learn about the physics and the mathematics behind the mechanics of clockworks. He just finished his first prototype. Jelle explains that he is not sure yet which master he wants to do after ATLAS. It is probably going to be something related to physics, but he still needs to find out which direction of physics interests him the most. By choosing mechanical engineering as the subject for his personal pursuit, it helps him to discover if this could be his direction. 

Furthermore, the study-association of ATLAS called Atlantis has its first lustrum year, so Jelle has been busy together with the other members of the lustrum committee with the preparations of the kick-off of a festive lustrum year for Atlantis. Organizing the lustrum comes with a lot of responsibilities and learning opportunities which are beneficial for your academic development as well. For example, Jelle wanted to learn how to use the laser cutting machine for his personal pursuit. He learnt how to use the machine by making an award for the winning group of the dropping, which was the secret activity of the Lustrum Kick-Off. All in all, a really successful and personal reach week for Jelle!

University College Twente offers a unique bachelor’s programme, Technology, Liberal, Arts and Sciences, to top students. Visit the University College Twente website for more information about the college and Technology, Liberal, Arts and Sciences website for more information about the bachelor program. Or visit us during the open day, a student-for-a-day or an insight-day.


Lieke van de Donk
Writer, Class of 2021
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