A study into how academics learn to assess student performance affirms the significance of context in understanding learning in the academic workplace. The study involved three case studies in academic departments with significant differences in the teaching, research and professional dimensions of academic life. This article reports on the experiences of new academics in one of the case studies, a department in the Natural Sciences. This case study highlights how relationships between colleagues, opportunities for conversations about assessment practice, and the alignment of assessment practices with the kinds of capital valued in each context are important considerations in understanding the ease, or difficulties, new academics experience in learning to judge student performance. Programmes that
aim to help academics develop their assessment practice need to recognise that learning to judge student performance involves developing confidence to create and use opportunities to learn within the academic workplace.