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  • Rainbow Clouds

    Refraction and diffraction of light through ice crystals in the clouds

  • Philippa On The Ice

    Philippa On The Ice Philippa Werry at an Antarctic research camp 2016

New Zealand Science Teacher


Resource banks a useful tool for science teachers

NZCER’s online resources for formative assessment have been upgraded.

From earthquakes to the water cycle, butterflies to plate tectonics: teachers will find something to get their students inspired in the new Assessment Resource Banks developed by The New Zealand Council of Educational Research (NZCER) for the Ministry of Education.

NZCER has built a new website that enables students to complete assessment tasks on-line. A number of new interactive tasks have been developed, and many of the old resources have been redeveloped. The option of printing off as ‘paper and pencil tasks’ remains, where the task is viable in this format.

Like the previous ARB website, the new one comprises three different resource banks, with material for assessing the English, mathematics and science learning areas. The resources are for students up to Year 10, pre-NCEA level.  NZCER's resource developers, all experienced in both curriculum and assessment, are supported by Māori and Pasifika steering groups, an advisory group, and the Ministry of Education to decide on directions for resource development.

The point of difference between ARB assessments and many other assessment resources is that they are designed specifically with formative assessment in mind.  Chris Joyce, a science resource developer at NZCER, says, “They’re best used as part of the daily classroom programme to work out what students next learning should be.”

To this end, teacher support notes are provided for each resource. For the new website these notes have been reorganised under separate headings so it's now much easier for teachers to locate what they are interested in. The support material for further reading and links to related information also remains.  “We want to ensure there is a wide variety of material that is suitable for the range of students and teachers that will potentially use it,” says Chris.

The science bank

Currently in science, the focus for new resources is the science capabilities, a new initiative of the Ministry to support teachers with their science teaching.

Freshly  published are resources using the context of fire, monarch butterflies, tectonic plates, and metals, and a number of others are in the pipeline. As well, about sixty original resources have been redeveloped to provide the option of completing them online. Most existing resources are still available in some form on the new site, so in most cases favourite tasks won't have been lost.

Links to science resources will soon be provided to support two primary school resources previously published by the Ministry:  the ‘Building Science Concepts’ and ‘Making Better Sense’ book series. Teachers are able to search on the website through the book titles, in order to find tasks relevant to the concepts and skills presented in each book. "While there is a lot of science education material available, it can be time-consuming finding it. So we hope to save teachers time by making some of the links for them,” says Chris.

A work in progress

Chris says the Assessment Resource Banks are an ongoing project.

“We’ll be continuing to work on new features for the website. Expect not only new tasks, but also ongoing improvements for managing student work, and storing and accessing student results for later reference.”

Teachers are already signing up to take advantage of the new material, and NZCER encourages others to take a look. Visit the Assessment Resource Banks here.

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  • There is no denying the value of the Science Capabilities. However, the issue of how to assess them is critical. Schools seem to require their Science Teachers to justify the development of new initiatives by having a complimentary assessment programme of formative and summative assessment. The Ministry of Education Position Paper (2011) is useful when it explains that assessment is a process of learning, for learning. It details the stages of Inquiry, Decision Making, Adaptation and Transformation as part of the process. It seems that Zimmerman's research suggests that self-assessment may produce better motivation and self-efficacy for students though perhaps teachers will still need to identify critical times when progress can be identified using formal tests.

    Posted by Graham Foster, 07/03/2016 6:58pm (4 years ago)

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