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Level 7 art history achievement objectives

Art history is the study of the visual arts domain. With the exception of the applied strand developing practical knowledge (PK), art history shares the same achievement objectives as visual arts.

In art history, these achievement objectives are interpreted as the study of art rather than the production of art.

The three arts strands work in combination. Together they provide the basis for a well-rounded programme. Generally, the strands are not taught alone. When focusing on teaching achievement objectives from one strand, teachers will usually find they can incorporate objectives from another strand.

The strands are separated here as a way of helping teachers to unpack the language of the strands and the objectives at this level.

Indicators are examples of the behaviours and capabilities that a teacher might expect to observe in a student who is achieving at the appropriate level. Teachers may wish to add further examples of their own.

Understanding art history in context (UC)

Achievement objectives

Students will:

  • research and analyse the influences of contexts on the characteristics and productions of artworks
  • research and analyse the influence of relevant contexts on their own work.


  • Connects art works to a range of contextual factors that influence their development, production, and value. Contextual influences may include personal or artistic, historic, religious, economic, social, political, technological, philosophic, theoretic, and gender.
  • Dissects and compares and contrasts the characteristics of art works within movements and styles.
  • Identifies, trials, and experiences practical methods or processes used by artists, such as trialling techniques in oil paint or raranga (weaving patterns in flax).
  • Identifies and compares relationships between the artist, art works, and the institutions of the art world, such as salons and museums, or the connection between taonga and society in Māori and Pasifika art.

Communicating and interpreting in art history (CI)

Achievement objectives

Students will:

  • research and analyse how art works are constructed and presented to communicate meanings
  • use critical analysis to interpret and respond to artworks.


  • Gathers information and describes how process and procedure in making art works communicates meaning and artistic intention.
  • Identifies how art works communicate meaning by the manner of their presentation, for example, the meaning implied by McCahon’s rejection of the frame in The Northland Panels (1958) or the impact of the Salon des Refusés on Impressionism.
  • Applies art history models of analysis to interpret meaning in art works, such as a study of iconography to interpret meanings intended by the artist.

Developing ideas in art history (DI)

Achievement objective

Students will:

  • generate, analyse, clarify, and extend ideas in a selected field related to established practice.


  • Identifies, compares, and interprets the meanings, signs, and symbols within the imagery and effects of art works.
  • Dissects and examines how artists’ ideas are made visible or expressed through their practice and body of work.
  • Expresses (own) personal ideas or responses to a selected body of artworks or an artist’s oeuvre.

Assessment for qualifications

At the time of publication, achievement standards are in development to align them with The New Zealand Curriculum. Aligned level 1 achievement standards were registered for use in 2011 and level 2 in 2012. Level 3 will be registered for use in 2013.

Please ensure that you are using the correct version of the standards by going to the NZQA website.

Teachers should be familiar with all aspects of NCEA assessment.

Effective teachers aim to develop an art history programme that balances learning as set out in The New Zealand Curriculum and opportunities for assessment leading to qualifications.

The level 2 NCEA assessment guidelines prescribe three broad areas of study for external assessment; students are expected to answer questions from one of these.

Teachers will build their course on the requirements to meet external and internal achievement standards to equip their students to gain NCEA qualifications, with particular attention on providing sufficient opportunity to gain merit or excellence.

But art history programmes do not have to be bound by the range of options or topics within the NCEA assessment framework. Teaching and learning begins from the learning needs of the student and allows for the intrinsic rewards of learning such as:

  • gaining new insights
  • expanding world views
  • enjoying looking at and talking about art.

An art history programme, while retaining academic rigour, should allow for free discussion and appreciation of the art works for enjoyment.

Opportunities to engage with art works might include field trips, discussions, and creative expression that may not form part of the summative assessment practice.

Last updated August 28, 2020