As a national project on assessment practice noted:

Assessment is a central element in the overall quality of learning and teaching in higher education. Well designed assessment sets clear expectations, establishes a reasonable workload (one that does not push students into rote reproductive approaches to study), and provides opportunities for students to self-monitor, rehearse, practise and receive feedback. Assessment is an integral component of a coherent educational experience.

The ideas and strategies in the Assessing Student Learning resources support three interrelated objectives for quality in student assessment in higher education.

  1. assessment that guides and encourages effective approaches to learning;
  2. assessment that validly and reliably measures expected learning outcomes, in particular the higher-order learning that characterises higher education; and
  3. assessment and grading that defines and protects academic standards.

    ... assessment requirements and the clarity of assessment criteria and standards significantly influence the effectiveness of student learning. Carefully designed assessment contributes directly to the way students approach their study and therefore contributes indirectly, but powerfully, to the quality of their learning.

(Excerpt from James, McInnis, & Devlin, 2002).

Boud and Falchikov (2007) argue for the development of schemes of assessment tasks that progressively promote the development of students' abilities to make increasingly sophisticated judgements about their own learning. Such approaches to assessment place assessment as a crucial element in developing students' capacity to learn for the longer term.