This study focuses on students’ learning approaches in the context of a competency-based program on applied sciences, with portfolio assessment as its core mode of assessment. The study examines students’ perceptions of these assessment practices and the relationships to their learning approaches. Additionally, differences in perceptions and learning approaches between first-year students and second-year students, who already have one year of experience with the portfolio assessment practice, are investigated. A total of 110 students completed two questionnaires at the end of the academic year: the revised spq (study process questionnaire) was used to measure their approaches to learning and the aeq (assessment experience questionnaire) was used to measure their perceptions of the assessment practice. The results indicate that, when implementing portfolio assessment, feedback is essential. Moreover, it seems not to be the assessment design, but rather how it is implemented, and how students’ learning is stimulated through the assessment, that influences the quality of learning.