A framework for understanding assessment practice in higher education

Natalie Forde-Leaves*, Jack Walton, Ken Tann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A source of contestation in higher education curricula is the multiplicity of demands they serve and purposes they seek to fulfil. In this paper, we see this contestation as actively shaping assessment theory and practice, resulting in paradoxes of valorisation and vilification of everyday assessment practices. We address the plethora of contestations in higher education assessment through the disruption of dichotomies in assessment discourse by re-querying assessment autonomy, logic and the basis of success. To this end, we apply Legitimation Code Theory to construct a new holistic framework for assessment inquiry, contributing to both extant and developing assessment theory by proposing a single sociological framework to analyse assessment practice cross-discipline, institution and geographical boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1076-1091
Number of pages16
JournalAssessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2023


  • Assessment
  • Legitimation Code Theory
  • Autonomy
  • Semantics
  • Specialization


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