Research and articles

Further science curriculum and assessment resources
There are a range of other curriculum and assessment resources that teachers and schools can access to support the teaching and learning of science.
Administering the Science Toolkit assessments
The assessments are administered online. Administering the assessments involves sharing the Student URL with your students.
Building students’ inferential reasoning: Statistics curriculum levels 5 and 6
A TLRI study, looking at understanding how students progressively develop informal statistical inferential reasoning from Levels 5 to 8 of the new curriculum.
NMSSA Science Toolkit
The Science Toolkit is designed to assist teachers to assess, understand, and support Year 7 and 8 students’ learning in science.
Key learning focus: reading and writing
Reading and Writing frameworks to illustrate key focus learning areas from the Literacy Learning Progressions.
Science at Home - ARB collections
Science is everywhere; and there are opportunities for science thinking around every corner. This is a selection of classroom resources that are designed for teachers to use in the classroom, but can be used by students and parents at home. Some resources can be downloaded and answered pencil and paper and others can be completed online.
Getting the most from the ARBs - ARB collections
The ARBs are a repository of almost three thousand formative assessment resources that provide teachers with formative assessment Maths, English, and Science tasks for students at Levels 1-5. Here are some selections of great tasks for learning across Maths (Levels 1- 4) and Science (Levels 1- 5) to get started.
ARBs collections - Maths Level 4
This selection of classroom resources of Maths ARBs at Curriculum level 4 can be freely used across Aotearoa New Zealand.
ARBs collections - Maths Level 1
This selection of classroom resources of Maths ARBs at Curriculum level 1 can be freely used across Aotearoa New Zealand.
ARBs collections - Maths Level 2
This selection of classroom formative assessment resources of Maths ARBs at Curriculum level 2 can be freely used across Aotearoa New Zealand. 
ARBs collections - Maths Level 3
This selection of classroom resources of Maths ARBs at Curriculum level 3 can be freely used across Aotearoa New Zealand.
Assessment Resource Banks for School-Based and National Assessment
This article outlines the development and structure of the ARBs, summarises an evaluation of school-based and national uses undertaken in 1995, and discusses the future possibilities of ARBs for school-based and national assessment purposes.
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 (NZC) acknowledges that evidence for assessment for learning is often gathered informally. At the same time an increasing body of research suggests that assessment for learning isn’t easy for teachers. In this short news article we discuss the changing face of a long-standing resource that helps teachers to use assessment data to improve learning.
Next steps: Using the Assessment Resource Banks for Formative Assessment
The focus today for the Assessment Resource Banks is much more on the ARBs as a powerful tool for assessment for formative purposes. Next Steps is intended to help teachers to use the ARBs to support formative assessment in classrooms.
Resource bank in English for school-based assessment
The paper outlines and discusses a range of English resources now in the ARBs for school-based uses. Advantages of the ARBs for school-based assessment and future areas of development within the English banks are also considered.
Assessment Resource Banks: From national testing to a school-based resource
The Assessment Resource Banks (ARBs) in English, mathematics, and science  now function exclusively within a school-based environment.  This article outlines the development and present structure of the ARBs, discusses their consolidation as a school-based resource, and suggests future directions.
Potential of assessment resource banks as sources of information on student performance and for curriculum evaluation
Since the Assessment Resource Banks became available in March 1997, the number of available assessment resources has increased and the style has broadened to include many performance assessment tasks.
Introduction to the assessment resource banks (ARBs) and their diagnostic potential
The Assessment Resource Banks (ARBs) are computerised banks of assessment material linked to New Zealand curriculum statements in mathematics, science, and English. This article introduces the ARBs and describes the diagnostic potential of the ARBs.
Assessment resource banks and other approaches to school-based assessment in New Zealand
The levels-based structure of the curriculum and the need for teachers to assess to levels presents a challenge for all school-based assessment, particularly for assessing students' writing. One innovation in the English ARBs has been to develop level based scoring guides, and link these to exemplars of writing that illustrate major hallmarks of writing at particular levels.
Trends in assessment: An overview of themes in the literature
This report outlines findings from a literature review of trends in assessment policy and practice, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Education.
Science capabilities and ARBs map
This map shows the Science capabilities by curriculum level with links to searchable collections of related assessment resources.
How students interpret poetry: findings from Assessment Resource Banks trials
This article is about comprehension strategies used by students across a range of class levels, crossing primary, intermediate, and secondary schools.
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 at Level 1 and 2
The science capabilities are weaving tools that help teachers put the Nature of Science (NOS) into the science curriculum. This short article explores how the science capabilities are related to the four NOS substrands with some related assessment tasks.
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.
English ARBs and key writing focus
ARB writing assessment resources mapped to the key foci from the Literacy Learning Progressions.
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
Since 1997 New Zealand schools have been able to draw on an online bank of assessment tasks for Mathematics, English, and Science to assist in the development of classroom and school-wide assessment. There are now more than 2800 assessment tasks available. In more recent times the focus of the banks has shifted to formative assessment. 
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.
Learning Progression Frameworks and the ARBs
The Assessment Resource Banks (ARBs) is one of the formative assessment tools developed by NZCER. Resources can be used as one source of evidence to inform Overall Teacher Judgements (OTJ) about students' learning.
The Reading and Writing maps can be used to locate assessment resources mapped to the National Standards (which remain as one of the optional  frameworks against which students achievement of Reading, Writing and Mathematics can be assessed).
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.
About the ARBs
The Assessment Resource Banks (ARBs) are a collection of educational articles, conceptual maps, and formative assessment resources in Maths, English and Science for use with New Zealand students working at levels 1-5 of the New Zealand Curriculum.
Oral Language Assessment Guides - Speaking
These assessment guides accompany oral language resources found in the ARBs. 
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.

English ARBs and key reading focus
ARB reading assessment resources mapped to the key foci from the Literacy Learning Progressions.
Progression in understanding systems concepts
In this progression, we have illustrated the stages identified by Assaraf and Orion with reference to ecosystems.
Thinking about systems
Thinking about systems involves a sophisticated understanding of how living things interact with the environment and includes a sense of the complex and changing nature of relationships.
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.
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
Tables and graphs are visual representations. They are used to organise information to show patterns and relationships. A graph shows this information by representing it as a shape. Researchers and scientists often use tables and graphs to report findings from their research. In newspapers, magazine articles, and on television they are often used to support an argument or point of view.
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.

Drawing provides an open form of assessment, allowing students to respond in a variety of ways. They may enable students to show evidence of understanding that other assessment strategies mask.

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.