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Use assessment information

The primary purpose of assessment is to improve students’ learning and teachers’ teaching as both student and teacher respond to the information that it provides. This section covers three main aspects of assessment:

Effective teachers use diagnostic and formative assessment:

  • to identify different students’ strengths and needs
  • to provide detailed and thorough measurement of students’ progress
  • to identify the impacts of their teaching and the implications for future teaching.

Use diagnostic assessment to inform your approach

Use diagnostic assessment to learn about your students and to find effective ways of engaging them in the learning process.

You can undertake diagnostic assessment formally through pre-tests or informally through a variety of tasks and activities.

A sample diagnostic activity based on race relations

You could introduce the context of race relations in New Zealand using a variety of stimuli to encourage students to share what they already know and to engage their interest. This activity could involve students as a class, in groups, or as individuals.

Relevant sources could include:

  • photographs and artefacts, for example, Ans Westra’s Washday at the Pa (For an introduction, see Te Papa’s Tai Awatea/Knowledge Net.)
  • video, for example, E Matakite O Aotearoa/The Māori Land March, held by the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.
  • current news stories (newspapers in print or online)
  • historic news stories from PapersPast
  • graphic organisers, for example, brainstorms or wordwebs.

A diagnostic activity based around a stimulus

You could create a set of jigsaws of selected photographs (sourced from The National Library) and allocate each student one piece of one puzzle. Have the students form groups and use their pieces to complete each photograph.

In their groups, students could then:

  • answer teacher-provided focusing questions
  • generate their own focusing questions
  • answer other groups' focusing questions
  • present their findings
  • use the material as a focus for further research during the study, or as an evaluative exercise at the end of the unit.

Provide multiple opportunities for formative assessment

Formative assessment flows seamlessly out of diagnostic activities. Students learn when they are actively engaged.

Encourage engagement through providing multiple opportunities to explore contexts in rich and varied ways. Students should have ‘as many ways of showing what they know as possible – through formal and informal measures, through tasks chosen by both student and teacher, through speaking, writing, and other forms of presentation’ (Levstik, L. and Barton, K. [2005]. Doing history: Investigating with children in elementary and middle schools. New Jersey: Laurence Erlbaum, pages 22–24).

Formative activities must be based on historical evidence and should be planned as part of the teaching programme.

Some examples of formative assessment opportunities

Activities (undertaken as a whole class, as a small group, or by individuals) could include:

  • debates or interviews in role (Students choose historical figures or construct their own characters based on evidence.)
  • constructing a board game with historical content, based on an existing board game
  • creating an interactive PowerPoint™, using hyperlinks or embedded video segments
  • creating a simulated social website page to explore a significant historical figure’s perspective on an event or an issue and record contemporary responses to them (This could provide a summative assessment opportunity for AS 1.4.)
  • creating a blog that outlines a historical figure’s response to a significant event or issue (This allows for dialogue to be created between historical figures.)
  • creating a diary or exchange of letters or emails to chart a sequence of historical events. (This could provide a summative assessment opportunity for Achievement Standard 1.2.)

The value of a student-centred approach

Assessment opportunities of the above kind recognise and accommodate the different rates and ways that students learn. Different kinds of assessment are likely to occur in senior history classes as part of a teaching and learning process that leads to a summative assessment (internal or external). The positive influence that a student-centered approach has on engagement and achievement will outlast the effects of any single summative assessment. Teachers will find that using a student-centred approach will improve outcomes for students and encourage them towards lifelong learning.

Assessment for qualifications

It is possible to use any of the history achievement standards with any of the achievement objectives. Teachers will choose the contexts and emphases that best suit their students and their programmes.

Students need to be aware of the requirements of the generic standards. They should be studied and discussed as an explicit process of preparation for externals.

Unpack the standard for and with students to make them aware of the requirements of the standard. Relate this to the contexts studied.

Practise with students the process of applying the generic questions stem to the contexts studied using previous exam questions and answers.

Last updated November 24, 2023