National Moderator's Reports

March 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 Visual Arts 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 Visual Arts, some students have exceeded the quantitative expectations for research standards at Levels 2 and 3. Where quality discussions are generated for each analysis, then 500-700 words per analysis would usually be sufficient to meet the depth of understanding required for Merit and Excellence. Typically, the analysis of three or four art works is sufficient for the breadth expectations of research standards.

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 the Merit/Excellence boundary in the ‘developing ideas’ standards at Level 3. In most cases this occurred because the sample did not yet show sufficient ‘regeneration of ideas’ to fulfil the requirements of the criterion for Excellence.

Regeneration (for Excellence) requires students to show the sustained advancement of pictorial and technical ideas to support new responses to a thematic or conceptual proposition. This typically means at least three distinctly different iterations of the investigation, with the first clarifying ideas (for Achieved), the second extending ideas (for Merit) and the third regenerating ideas (for Excellence).

An effective strategy to facilitate the advancement of personal ideas needed for higher levels of achievement is to introduce new artist models at each stage of the iterative process.

Tasks that include an evaluative stage, where the strengths and weaknesses of outcomes are identified, tend to enhance students’ opportunity to show the extension and regeneration of ideas. The strengths of preceding outcomes can then be used to inform new research and the development of subsequent art work. This contributes to a more systematic progression of ideas.

The Annotated Exemplars on the NZQA subject page for Visual Arts give guidance when making judgements at the Excellence/Merit grade boundary.

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 Visual Arts, group work has been undertaken in mural projects by a few schools for 90917 and 91325. The individual contribution of each student needs to be clearly identifiable when assessing group work and submitting for external moderation. For example, in a large mural, animals or figures could be allocated to individual students. Alternatively, a mural installation could be conceived as individual panels.

Evidence of personal skills and understanding of context-specific conventions may also be demonstrated through planning documentation and trial pieces made prior to the final work.

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 growing number of schools have begun to adopt an integrated approach to the delivery of internal Visual Arts standards.

This involves the combination of the ‘research’ standards, the 'drawing conventions' standards, and the ‘developing ideas’ standards into a single learning sequence. The resulting 'body of work' is then assessed in relation to the criteria of each standard.

Assessment requires that teachers clearly differentiate between the students’ understanding of pictorial and technical conventions (assessed for 2.2 and 3.2), and the sustained advancement of personal ideas (assessed for 2.3 and 3.3).

An integrated delivery of standards means that the role of research can be 'practice led' rather than theoretical or historical.

Practice Led Research

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The role of practice led research, as opposed to art theory or historical research, continues to evolve in the senior secondary sector. Student investigations tend to be stronger when supported by a sound understanding of established practice.

The most relevant research occurs when students’ practical inquiry determines which artists are investigated. This reflects tertiary practice and how established artists approach research.

Successful and relevant research activities will typically focus on explaining how particular visual or technical features create specific effects and communicate personal ideas. This information can then be directly applied to students’ own work.

An integrated delivery of standards, where research occurs throughout the year, enhances the relevancy of research activities and more meaningfully supports practical investigations.

The Use of Appropriated Imagery

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In design standards, some students use appropriated images from internet sources rather than creating their own visual imagery through drawing or photography. The use of 'stock' images in design contexts is acknowledged as established industry practice. However, the development of students’ own imagery enables them to demonstrate greater control and understanding of visual and illustrative conventions, and to show the independent development of personal ideas.

Problems may also occur where the strength of a design outcome such as a magazine cover or poster is based on the quality of an essentially unmodified stock image. In these cases, assessment is confined to the student’s own decision making in terms of the layout and typographic properties.

Finished Work Standards

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Care should be taken to ensure that outcomes for 91325 are not a subset of work generated for other standards. For example, a generic A3 painting could be assessed for 91311, 91316 or 91321. An appropriate finished work context, such as a mural, includes context specific conventions such a large scale, site constraints, and client requirements.

Technical and production skills unique to the context should be appropriately addressed. For example, a tattoo design may be applied to a specific part of the human body (with non-permanent materials) to show application skills and understanding of the design in relation to three-dimensional form.

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