Evaluation in higher education is an evolving social practice; that is, it involves what people, institutions and broader systems do and say, how they do and say it, what they value, the effects of these practices and values, and how meanings are ascribed. The textual products (verbal, written, visual and gestural) that inform and are produced by, for and through evaluative practices are important, as they promulgate particular kinds of meanings and values in specific contexts. This paper reports on an exploratory study that sought to investigate, using discourse analysis, the types of evaluative practices that were ascribed value, and the student responses that ensued, in different evaluative instruments. Findings indicate that when a reflective approach is taken to evaluation, students’ responses are more considered, they interrogate their own engagement in the learning context and they are more likely to demonstrate reconstructive thought. These findings have implications for reframing evaluation as reflective learning.