Assessment is currently in the spotlight for its poor ratings in student satisfaction surveys and ‘under performance’ in quality reviews. Consequently, a variety of initiatives and projects are being undertaken aimed at improving assessment. However, many of the concepts and theories underpinning assessment practice are complex and interrelated, which can mean that relatively simple and apparently minor changes can have major, and often unintended, consequences. This paper was initially prepared to foreground an internal document providing diagnosis and recommendations for change to assessment strategy and policy in a post‐1992 university. It draws on a wide body of literature and research studies to distil and discuss key issues, which should inform assessment decisions. These key issues provide a framework to examine assessment policy and practice and enable the alignment of assessment policy with the beliefs and values of an institution.
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