National Moderator's Reports

Mar 2019

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The following report gives feedback to assist assessors with general issues and trends that have been identified during external moderation of the internal Physics standards in 2018.

It does not clarify specific standards but provides further insights from moderation material viewed throughout the year.


Volume of Evidence Produced

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Some students produce an excessive volume of evidence. Students are not required to submit evidence beyond the criteria of the standard. It is appropriate for teachers to guide students to produce succinct evidence in response to the achievement criteria of the standard.

In Physics this has particularly been noticed at Levels 2 and 3.

For standards that involve demonstrating understanding of the context/application, focussing students on descriptions and explanations of the physics of the context/application may help to reduce the amount of evidence produced by students. For example, in the context of rollercoasters, students could be encouraged to focus on the physical forces and energy changes involved in achieving the sensation of weightlessness for the riders of the rollercoaster, rather than explaining fully how a rollercoaster works.

For the standard that involves use of physics knowledge to develop an informed response to a socio-scientific issue, the amount of student evidence produced can be reduced by promoting a focus on the use of physics knowledge. For example, in the context of nuclear power, instead of a student explaining the environmental benefits of alternative energies, their response might include a focus on the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear physics in terms of the context.

In terms of the quantity of evidence students produce, it is highly likely that a guideline of 500 - 2000 words for their responses to Achievement Standards 90936, 91169, 91522 and 91527 should provide the students with sufficient opportunity to demonstrate the skills needed for Excellence.

For standards that involve practical physical investigations, focusing students on discussions limited to two or three key ideas may help to reduce the amount of evidence produced by students.

Excellence at Level 3

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There is some inconsistency in awarding Excellence. When making assessor decisions regarding Excellence, consideration needs to be given to the overall quality of the evidence. This is critical when making a judgement at the Merit/Excellence boundary.

A significant proportion of moderation grade changes occurred at Excellence in the ‘physics investigations’ standards at Level 3. In most cases, this occurred because the sample did not yet show sufficient evidence of ‘critical thinking’ to fulfil the requirements of the criterion for Excellence.

Discussion of an issue critical to the practical investigation will include why an issue affects the investigation, and how the issue affects the measured variable or gradient used in the comparison with the physics theory.

The annotated exemplars on the NZQA subject page for Physics also give guidance when making judgements at the Excellence/Merit grade boundary.

A significant proportion of moderation grade changes also occurred in the ‘socio-scientific issue’ standards at Level 3. The ‘socio-scientific issue’ requires students to relate Physics to real-life issues.

An effective strategy is to ensure that students understand the progression of evidence required with the steps usually consisting of identifying the key physics behind the issue (Achieved), explaining how or why the physics relates to the issue (Merit) and then linking the issue and physics ideas together to provide a coherent picture of the issue which can be used to recommend some sort of action (Excellence).

Group Work

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Group work is an acceptable form of assessment, if appropriate to the standard. When submitting group work for moderation, the teacher needs to ensure there is evidence that each student has met the standard.

The contribution of each student can be tracked and presented in a variety of ways, such as written record of teacher observation, the division of workload into clearly defined tasks, a student worklog or video diary, recordings of teacher/student conferences, etc.

In Physics, group work has not been evident in most of the work sent in for moderation in 2018.

In the ‘practical investigation’ standards, data may be collected in small groups, but the teacher needs to ensure that there is evidence that each student has met all aspects of the standard.

Integrated Assessment of Standards

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This refers to assessing multiple standards via one submission of student evidence. The assessment of standards may be integrated either within a subject or across subjects.

For external moderation, if the assessment is across subjects and the student evidence is physical, it can be sent on to the next subject moderator/s if required. If it is an online submission, the student evidence can be uploaded for each standard being moderated.

A number of schools have begun to adopt an integrated approach to the delivery of some internal Physics standards.

This involves the combination of standards such as the ‘application/context’ standards with the ‘nuclear/modern physics’ standards (please note: an exclusion exists for the combination of 91522 and 91527). The resulting evidence is then assessed in relation to the criteria of each standard.

For example, the assessment of Level 2 Physics in an Atomic and Nuclear context (assessing both 91169 and 91172) requires that assessors clearly differentiate between the demonstration of a students’ understanding of atomic and nuclear physics (91172), and the demonstration of a students’ understanding of atomic and nuclear physics and its relevance to the selected context the student has chosen (91169).

Use of Technology

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The role of technology, including the use of digital devices and appropriate software, continues to evolve in the senior secondary sector.

Practical investigations that use computer software to aid the numerical and graphical analysis tend to allow the student to focus on the physics of the relationship they are investigating (provided sufficient teaching and learning of the use of appropriate software has happened prior to assessment and a template is not provided).

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