Assessment and learning

Assessment is the process of firstly gathering evidence, and secondly interpreting that evidence in the light of some defined criterion in order to form a judgement (Broadfoot, 2007). Assessment is central to learning, and not just about teaching or measuring learning; it is a key part of the whole learning process (Readman & Allen, 2013).

Assessment fulfils a number of functions within the learning process:

  • Certification - Assembling a body of evidence of students’ achievement through summative assignments, exams and performance.
  • Quality assurance - Demonstration of academic standards and accountability processes through scrutiny of student work.
  • Learning - Providing formative and diagnostic functions to engage students in the learning process by completing tasks and gaining feedback.
  • Lifelong learning - Developing students' ability to self-assess and self-regulate their learning beyond formal requirements.

Assessment for, of and as learning

  1. Assessment for learning refers to formative assessment that is intended to contribute directly to the learning process through providing feedback, which models success, guides future effort, and gives encouragement.
  2. Assessment as learning reinforces the role of formative assessment. It emphasises the role of students, not only as contributors to the assessment and learning process, but as critical connectors between the learning process and assessment (Earl, 2013).
  3. Assessment of learning refers to summative assessment as a point in time measure. It is for ‘checking up’ or ‘summing up’ what an individual learner has achieved. It is often associated with reporting, certification and selection (Broadfoot, 2007)

Higher education – Assessment 2020

The Australian Learning and Teaching Council supported a project developed by staff at the University of Technology Sydney to provide stimulus for the redevelopment of assessment practices in higher education. Entitled Assessment 2020, it highlighted seven propositions for assessment reform in higher education. Assessment has most effect when…

  • Assessment is used to engage student in learning that is productive
  • Feedback is used to actively improve student learning
  • Students and teachers become responsible partners in learning and assessment
  • Students are inducted into the assessment practices and cultures of higher education
  • Assessment for learning is placed at the centre of the subject and program design
  • Assessment for learning is a focus for staff and institutional development, and
  • Assessment provides inclusive and trustworthy representation of student achievement

View a full copy of the Australian Learning & Teaching Council - Assessment 2020 report (pdf, 231kb)



  • Broadfoot, P. (2007) An introduction to assessment. New York: Continuum International
  • Readman, K. & Allen, W. (2013). Practical planning and assessment. Melbourne: Oxford University Press

Federation University policies and guidelines

Tertiary sector policies and guidelines

For comprehensive information on policies and procedures related to assessment for both higher education and VET sectors, please visit the following links:

  • University policy on assessment: Includes VET Assessment Procedure, Integrity in Assessment Guidelines and Procedure, and Moderation of Assessment (HE) Policy and Programs Guidelines.
  • The Standards for RTOs 2015
  • (TGA) is the database on Vocational Education and Training in Australia. TGA is the official national register of information on training packages, qualifications, courses, units of competency and Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and has been developed for experienced training sector users.
  • The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is the national regulator for Australia's vocational education and training sector. ASQA regulates courses and training providers to ensure nationally approved quality standards are met.