Research and articles

Culturally responsive pedagogy and assessment in primary science classrooms: Whakamana tamariki
A TLRI project where four teachers addressed their diverse students’ need for different opportunities to develop more sophisticated expertise in science by drawing on the principles and practices of culturally responsive pedagogy and assessment for learning.
ARBs and the Science capabilities
Testing, Motivation and Learning
Assessment Reform Group
This pamphlet is a summary of a review of research on ‘assessment of learning’ (summative assessment) and in particular the impact of summative testing on pupils’ motivation to learn. 
Assessment for learning 10 principles
Assessment Reform Group
Assessment for learning is one of the most important purposes of assessment.
Building science concepts books
The 64 Building science concepts books have been listed here with links to selections of related assessment resources.
Rediscovering the ARBs
This article takes you on a journey through the new-look Assessment Resource Banks website. Looking at working with new online-interactive formative assessment resources. 
Visualising chance: Learning probability through Modelling
A TLRI study, aimed at undergraduate students, modelling an approach to probability and probabilistic reasoning.
Mathematical relationships and practices: A view into Year 9 mathematics classrooms
A TLRI research project. Analysis focused on the communities of practices, and the ways teachers organise instructional activities.
Algebraic patterns and relationships with different types of numbers
Explains the different number categories used in algebraic patterns and relationships.
Types of numbers
Information about different types of numbers. e.g., 1, 2, 3, ... etc.,  0.33333... , or 5/7. Each has its own uses and its own challenges.
Equations and expressions
Information about equations and about how letters are used in algebra.
Developing statistical numeracy in primary schools
Describes scaffolding students through a data-rich statistical enquiry cycle.
Teaching Punctuation and Grammar
This article describes the background to NZCER's literacy assessment, PAT: Punctuation and Grammar. 
Diagnosing misconceptions in mathematics: Using the Assessment Resource Banks to remedy student errors
Using data from Assessment Resource Bank items; analysing incorrect answers provides valuable diagnostic information, identifies misconceptions, and helps develop strategies to remedy them. 
Fractions: Partitioning and the part-whole concept
This article explores part-whole relationships and partitioning, outlines student misconceptions about fractions, and suggests ways to overcome these.
Reflecting on mathematics journals: The kaleidoscope effect
A study where students kept journals of their maths lessons.
The Band Aid Strip
How to deal with ideas involving fractions, decimals, and percentages.
Self-regulated learning in mathematics classes
This study looked at how to encourage self-regulating behaviour using reflective journalling and models to represent mathematical problems.
Empowering students to become self-regulating writers: The Journey of One class
A study where explicit teaching and modelling supported Year 5 and 6 students to become more confident writers.
The meaning of “equals”
This article considers why a mathematical understanding of the equals sign is important, and suggests some strategies to help learners establish its meaning.
"I know something about forces." Self-regulated learning during science investigations in a junior classroom
This small study provides some evidence that even at a young age, students are able to begin developing self-regulation skills in the context of science investigations.
Putting the Nature of Science strand into the water cycle
The water cycle is an important context for school science, but the uncritical use of diagrams to simplify ideas may lead to misconceptions. Incorporating learning about how representations such as water cycle diagrams function, helps students to explore and understand the complexities of such a system.
Estimation exposed
A study in which students developed a richer understanding of estimation.
The role of an online repository of assessment tasks and resources: The place of the Assessment Resource Banks
Assessment for learning, online tasks, and the new Assessment Resource Banks
The main purpose for assessment should always be to improve learning. The New Zealand Curriculum acknowledges that evidence for assessment for learning is often gathered informally, and “analysis and interpretation, and use of information often take place in the mind of the teacher”
Stream feeding relationships
Different streams and rivers will have different combinations of plants and animals living there. This short document explores herbivores, carnivores, omnivores and scavengers and what they eat.
Nature of science and science capabilities
This summary provides information about:

  • the Nature of science (NOS) in The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC)
  • Science Capabilities for Citizenship
  • how to access and use NOS and Science Capabilities resources from the Assessment Resource Banks.
Oral Language assessment guides - Speaking
Assessment guides have been developed to accompany the oral resources found in the ARBs. They are designed to help teachers assess the first achievement objective of the curriculum.
Using words to link ideas within a sentence
Explains different types of conjunctions and gives examples of their use.
The nature of the information in a sentence
Describes types of sentences and the ways information is added to sentences and the implications for comprehension.
The focus of information in a sentence
Describes how ideas and information develop within sentences.
The way language condenses and generalises information
The use and implications for comprehension of nominalisation and ellipsis.
Self-regulated learning in the mathematics class

A study on proportional reasoning with Year 7 students, showing the benefits of using thinking models and self-reflection.

Progression in understanding systems concepts
In this progression, we have illustrated the stages identified by Assaraf and Orion with reference to ecosystems.
Language of science (Specialised language)
In learning the language of science, students need to learn not only a specialised vocabulary but how words go together and when to use this way of communicating.
Language barriers
Scientific English has its own special characteristics. There is a lot of specialised vocabulary but sentences are also put together in particular ways. The load of unfamiliar vocabulary and unfamiliar structure can make new ideas difficult for students to grasp.
Why "dissolving" is a difficult idea
These notes help explain why dissolving is not a straightforward concept for students to grasp. Researchers warn that this concept is much harder than teachers may realise. Even 16-17 year olds may try to describe the unseen events of dissolving based on their understanding of changes they can observe.
Science investigations
Over recent years fair testing has been the main sort of investigation carried out in many school science programmes.
Common alternative ideas about inter-relationships
In recent years, science education research has stressed the importance of finding out what students already know before teaching a new topic. It is important to uncover alternative ideas that students may hold in order to provide suitable activities to challenge their current ideas and move them towards a more scientific view of the topic. 
Science vocabulary
Many ecological issues are very complex, yet it is important that children develop understandings about them, so that they can play a part in looking after the planet. Boyes and Stanisstreet (1996) suggest that as a first step we should consider the vocabulary we use. 
What are New Zealand students' ideas about changes of state of water and the water cycle?
This short article describes a study that explores:
  • What are New Zealand students' ideas about water and the water cycle?
  • How do their ideas change as they progress through school?
Salient points from the literature about understanding the water cycle
Planet Earth consists of complex and finely balanced interacting systems. These systems affect and are affected by human activities. It is important that students develop an appreciation of how these systems work so that they become aware of the possible consequences of human activities. The water cycle is one of these systems.
How understanding text features benefits reading comprehension
Describes how knowledge of text features supports comprehension. Has examples from narratives and science reports.
Thinking about how language works
Information about analysing sentence structure and connecting and tracking ideas when reading and writing.
Learning vocabulary through reading
Describes a strategy to help students learn vocabulary.
Writing Assessment guide
The purpose of this support material is to give teachers information about the twelve criteria used to assess ARB writing exemplars. The assessment focus of each criterion is given with selected examples of what to look for as you assess against each criterion. 
Types of data: Statistics

Knowing that data can be one of several types helps us decide how best to collect it and appropriate ways to display it. 

Unitising and re-unitising of fractions
This article is about unitising - selecting a unit of measurement to measure or interpret other quantities. It involves the understanding of partitioning and equivalence of fractions. 
Division with fractions
Dividing one fraction by another fraction can be difficult. This article suggests how to make difficult division problems more accessible.
The Statistical Enquiry Cycle

This article discusses following the statistical enquiry cycle (SEC), as described in the New Zealand Curriculum, when doing statistical investigations. 

Inter-relationships – a really important idea in environmental science
The essence statement of the draft revised NZ science curriculum states that in their study of the living world students are expected to gain an understanding of "living things and their interactions with the environment." While it is not difficult for students to grasp the basic idea that living things depend on each other and the physical environment for their survival, this awareness needs to be supported by knowledge about the specific needs of a variety of organisms and their relationships with other living and non-living things in the environment.
Journalling in mathematics

Journalling involves students writing about their learning in mathematics. What they write can be based on a prompt given by the teacher or can be more self-directed, or even free-writing about their thoughts, feelings and ideas. Teachers will often read students’ journal entries and respond with comments or questions. Sometimes this can evolve into an ongoing written conversation between student and teacher.

Tables and graphs
Venn diagrams
A Venn diagram is a type of graphic organiser. Graphic organisers are a way of organising complex relationships visually. They allow abstract ideas to be more visible.
Progressive disclosure

When a text (written, oral, or visual) is revealed progressively this is called progressive disclosure. As each new piece of narrowly focused information is revealed, students integrate it with previously revealed information (and their prior knowledge) to thoroughly and systematically build up an understanding of the text as a whole.

Predict, Observe, Explain (POE)

Predict Observe Explain (POE) is a strategy often used in science. It works best with demonstrations that allow immediate observations, and suits Physical and Material World contexts. A similar strategy also works well in mathematics, particularly in statistics.

Using multiple-choice questions for assessment

Multiple-choice questions provide a number of options from which students select the best answer. They can be used to assess students' ability in a wide range tasks including recalling information, interpret graphs and diagrams, discriminate between fact and opinion, and many more. Careful selection of the options can identify particular misconceptions, or even scaffold the students' thinking. One advantage of muliple-choice questions is that writing is not a barrier to answering.

Adapting multiple-choice items for group discussion

Multiple-choice items may be quite complex and challenging in the thinking sequences required. Using multiple-choice questions for group discussion can enable students to access questions that they may have found very difficult as straight multiiple-choice questions. Such questions may require a chain of reasoning and interpretation before students arrive at a choice of answer. By including discussion, teachers get an insight into the students’ thinking processes that lead to their final choice of answer.

Mathematical problem writing

Understanding can be assessed by asking students to write their own mathematical problems in response to scenarios or prompts from their teachers.

Classroom discourse (Mathematics)

Mathematical classroom discourse is about whole-class discussions in which students talk about mathematics in such a way that they reveal their understanding of concepts. Students also learn to engage in mathematical reasoning and debate.

Flow charts
Flow charts are one type of graphic organiser where students’ thinking can be made visible. Creating a flow chart from oral, visual, and written texts can help students think, and reflect on their thinking.
Using concept cartoons for assessment
Concept Cartoons are cartoon-style drawings that put forward a range of viewpoints about an everyday event. Naylor and Keogh (1999) developed, researched and refined their use as a science assessment and teaching tool. They are now exploring their use in mathematics.
Vocabulary and comprehension
Discusses using explicit vocabulary instruction to assist comprehension.
The ARBs and Assessment for Learning

Assessment is about gathering evidence of what a student can do. We can have different purposes for gathering this information, and in some cases more than one purpose. Assessment is often classified loosely around these purposes as formative, summative and diagnostic assessment.