A task, usually written, which can be used for the dual purposes of learning and assessment, and is in the first instance internally assessed. Usually involving some degree of research or preparatory reading, and often consisting of more than one task, an assignment may be set for completion by individual learners, or may require the collaboration of a small group. They are often used as a means of continuous assessment; and the term is sometimes used interchangeably with coursework. They were widely used in the first phase of General National Vocational Qualifications (GNVQs) in the 1990s, when they were presented as a helpful alternative to examinations for those pupils who did not perform well under examination conditions. In this respect they became the subject of some controversy, considered by some to be an unreliable and insufficiently stringent alternative to external testing. This growing concern led to the introduction into GNVQs of externally set and externally assessed assignments. See also assessor.