Transcript of depth studies
Speaker: Vatché Ansourian
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the final Adobe Connect session in this series of Stage 6 mEsh Adobe Connect sessions that we have. Today's session is on depth studies, the purpose being to clarify and provide some guidance in terms of how depth studies work, the rules behind them which NESA has stipulated, as well as some ideas in terms of what could be done within the classroom. So we're starting off with what is a depth study. You'll be able to read the syllabus in regards to what NESA has stated about what a depth study is. We'll give some clarification around that. So, a depth study may be a single investigation or an activity or a series of investigations or activities. The depth study may be designed for the course cohort or a single class or be determined by individual students. It may be in one module or across several modules.
Essentially, what we're starting off here is by saying that a depth study is a very open-ended task that can be undertaken within a classroom. While a depth study may be undertaken in a single module of the course or across modules, the formal assessment of a depth study or the aspect of a depth study which is being assessed must only occur once. And we're talking about formal assessment here, so in regards to the assessment schedule. The design of the assessment task must provide opportunities for all students to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skills of the outcome, using a common marking criteria and guidelines, regardless of the area of investigation. So, again, there can be some consistency there. But at the same time, when we're looking at providing rubrics and marking criteria, essentially we want students to be able to meet the outcomes. So the outcomes of knowledge and understanding, and the outcomes of skill.
A range of task types may be used when assessing a depth study or an aspect of a depth study, and in many cases a report that explains the process undertaken throughout the depth study with analysis of the final product or result is an appropriate format that you can use as assessment. Other examples that may be able to be used could include written reports, oral presentations, digital or media products, data analysis, practical investigations or fieldwork. And there will be a slide that will show the break-up of that and other ideas in terms of what can be done within the classroom.
So, there are some requirements which NESA has stipulated for depth studies. A minimum of 15 hours of in-class time is allocated in both Year 11 and Year 12 for Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Science and Physics. There is a minimum of 30 hours of in-class time which is allocated for both Year 11 and Year 12 for Investigating Science. So just some clarity there. That's 15 hours in Year 11 and 15 hours in Year 12. And for Investigating Science, 30 hours in Year 11 and 30 hours in Year 12. At least one depth study must be included in both Year 11 and Year 12. The two Working Scientifically outcomes, Questioning and Predicting, and Communicating, must be addressed in both Year 11 and Year 12. Again, separately in each year. And these outcomes are mandatory. So Questioning and Predicting, and Communicating, must be addressed in each depth study that you do have.
There is a minimum of two additional Working Scientifically skill outcomes, and further development of at least one Knowledge and Understanding outcome is to be addressed in all depth studies. So we are talking of at least, so a minimum, of two additional Working Scientifically, so you can include more. And while we're looking at Knowledge and Understanding, the further development of at least one Knowledge and Understanding outcome. The key term here is 'further developments'. What we are looking at is taking that outcome further. So we are looking at depth rather than breadth.
And depth studies may be undertaken within any Science Life Skills course and can relate to any module within that course as well. So, looking at the two mandatory Working Scientifically outcomes of Questioning and Predicting and at Communicating, which must be addressed in both Year 11 and Year 12. So one outcome, Questioning and Predicting, one outcome for Communicating. Underneath those there are a number of skill descriptors that students can engage with. So, again, the teacher would be able to identify which of those skills that students could engage with or, again, if we're looking at meeting the outcome, then students will be able to meet the outcome in a number of ways by meeting those skill descriptors as well. A minimum of two additional Working Scientifically skill outcomes, again. So we've got Questioning and Predicting, and Communicating, there. And you have a choice of five other Working Scientifically outcomes that you can choose from, remembering that you are choosing a minimum of two for students to engage in. Knowledge...so further development of at least one Knowledge and Understanding outcome. And, again, that is circled.
What we have added there is the word...are the words 'further development'. And the reason we'll include those is just for clarity. So, we're not meeting the outcome in content, we're not just going through and doing the same thing within a class, just doing it again as a depth study, we are further developing that as well. And what you do have is you have four outcomes for you to choose from in each year in each course. We've introduced the 'Stage 6 Science Assessment' table again, just to be able to highlight where depth studies do sit. So one task must focus on a depth study or an aspect of a depth study. And in both Year 11 and Year 12, the weighting for that is between 20% and 40%. So purpose of assessment, remembering, is to increase the quality of work which our students are doing, and, again, always including feedback when students are doing work, and so using that feedback loop - feeding up, feeding forward, feeding back. What we've also...the reason we've also included this slide is just to note the change to the NESA wording for 'formal written examinations'. This slide has looked different in the other recordings. It has now changed to a maximum of one task may be a formal written examination, and that has been added there just for clarity from NESA.
Speaker: Cherine Spidou
Can I just add to that, though, that this was actually stipulated in the NESA News on 8 June. So if you have not actually subscribed to the NESA News, you surely should need to do that, especially with the new syllabus. So this one's actually in the NESA News. It has not come out officially on the actual syllabus, but that will be added with the new review of the syllabus. But it's on the NESA News. Sorry, Vatché.
Speaker: Vatché Ansourian
No, thank you very much, Cherine, for that clarification. So, talking about depth studies again. So, the depth studies were designed so that students could further investigate aspects that they find interesting or want to know more about. Depth studies don't have to be big projects that will exhaust both students and teachers. It's there to allow opportunities for students to be able to study some outcomes or some concepts in depth. Depth studies are there to provide opportunities for students to pursue their interests, acquire a depth of understanding and take responsibility for their own learning. Depth studies promote differentiation and engagement and support all forms of assessment, including assessments for, as, and of learning. And you'll find those definitions within the NESA syllabuses.
Depth studies allow for a demonstration of a range of Working Scientifically skills, remembering that we do have two mandatory and the addition of at least, or a minimum, two more Working Scientifically skills. So, again, demonstration of a range of skills. A depth study may be, but not limited to, practical investigations or a series of practical investigations, secondary-sourced investigations or, once again, a series of secondary-sourced investigations, any type of presentation, research assignments, fieldwork, reports that extend the concepts that are found within the course, either qualitatively or quantitatively, and, again, other forms of creative or innovative assessment that we'll give some examples of a bit later as well. The length of time for any individual study and the pedagogies employed are not prescribed for depth studies. So please do note that.
The time for the depth studies may be allocated to a single study or spread over the year and incorporate several studies, depending on individual schools and/or class requirements. Depth study course time must include opportunities for effective assessment practice. So, again, remembering assessment for, as and of learning. What we have here is a table for ideas in regards to what depth studies could look like within a school. You will find this as text within the syllabuses, where they do talk about examples of what depth studies could be. We've just added a few more things there, just to be able to extend those ideas that we have. So remember practical investigations, looking at the things that we do there. As science teachers, we do practical investigations really well, secondary-sourced investigations really well, and fieldwork and data analysis.
There have been some times within the 7-10 course where there have been opportunities to create, but that has been very limited within the current Stage 6 course as well. So, within these depth studies that we have now, there's opportunities to be able to look at innovative and creative assessments, and, again, all these examples are quite valid. But again, what we're providing here are just examples that you can do. So, looking at secondary-sourced investigations, being able to write a journal article, for example, or write an essay, something that can be historical or theoretical, so allowing students to extend what they're doing by providing room for them to be able to debate arguments and provide their point of view. Being able to make a documentary, so the creation of something, or even a media report can be quite valid in terms of being able to do a depth study. Even an environmental management plan or looking at a work of film or a fiction book to see if it has any scientific relevance.
And the support document we have today for Investigating Science is a depth study around the Fact or Fallacy module which looks at being able to study a film, looking at the science from the film and being able to provide information and research around that that students can engage in. And, again, we don't just stop there. There are examples we can do in terms of excursions and fieldwork, so Lachlan Macquarie College, based at Western Sydney University, both Parramatta and Campbelltown, would be able to be something that students would be able to do by basing their work there and then taking it further into depth in class. Organisations like ANSTO, Taronga Zoo, Dubbo Western Plains Zoo, Questacon, Parkes Observatory, Luna Park based in Sydney, Bicentennial, Centennial parks, again, other national parks around New South Wales, environmental and educational centres, local parks, bushlands and even local mines are all examples of excursions that could then initiate a depth study and you can take that further on in class.
Examples in Physics could include things like looking at musical instruments, safety devices in cars, being able to extend what students are studying in Astrophysics, or even looking at things like electromagnetism versus friction just as a depth study.
In Biology, plenty of room there to talk about current research that's going on, looking at genetic drift models of certain phenotypes, extending students' understanding of evolutionary models, looking at population dynamics within their local environments, within the future ecosystems model being able to extend what students know about human impacts and human influences on evolution, or extending their research on infectious and non-infectious disease, being able to look at awareness programs and things that are very similar.
For Chemistry, extension of organic analysis, extension of analytical methods that you see within the course, use of some of the investigations from the syllabus itself, so looking at how a chemical structure determines properties, extending their understanding of the outcome that falls under that. Looking at topical and current issues within chemistry, like nanotubules and graphene. Synthesising tailor-made pharmaceuticals perhaps could even be something that your students may want to delve in.
Within Earth and Environmental Science, extending field studies, in terms of what students would be able to do, investigations which are focusing on things such as climate science, which is very topical and controversial in the media as well. And plenty of opportunities to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to extend and engage that knowledge of country and the caring for country.
And for Investigating Science, because it does transcend all the disciplines, so Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental, and Physics, it's a lot more open-ended in terms of what a depth study could be. Or, again, looking at those modules, they're very process-driven, they use that scientific method investigating science, and being able to do a depth study around that. What can...what students can also do is look at competitions as well and extend their investigation of science, such as a Sleek Geeks Eureka Prize or even looking at the Young Scientist competition which is run by the Science Teachers' Association of New South Wales. So, again, just a bunch of ideas which hopefully will be able to give you some idea about what depth studies could look like.
So, looking at levels of inquiry in terms of what depth studies can be. So as confidence grows, you would expect for students' abilities to grow as well. And, again, we would be linking those with their Working Scientifically skills. So, when it comes to depth studies, small steps in the beginning. So, let's look at what kind of inquiry we can do. So if we look at these levels of inquiry, we're moving from limited inquiry to structured inquiry to guided inquiry and open inquiry. So using...so if you look at limited inquiry, depth studies are designed for students to engage in and pursue interests to acquire a depth of understanding. So limited inquiry doesn't quite have a place here. What teachers can do, working with those other inquiry levels, is being able to offer students options in terms of how they can engage with a depth study.
So teachers can give students a topic, and students can all do the same task or activities if you want consistency, and that is very structured inquiry there. Teacher-guided inquiry, so giving students the topic and guiding them to complete the activities, where there is some student choice, or moving towards open inquiry, where the teacher gives students free choice of a topic or something to be able to study, and just supports their needs. So working as a facilitator here. The inquiry pedagogy, that inquiry-based learning model, works really well within the depth study and that can be used as well to be able to guide students.
So what we are saying with a depth study is there's no place for limited inquiry. We want students to be able ask questions. We want students to be able to come to the front of the line and really pursue their interests in terms of what they're doing. And again, just taking... Sorry. Just remembering that you're not restricted to a single module or syllabus area as well, and it can be inspired by excursions, it could be inspired by scientific talks. There's a lot of room here in regards to what a depth study could be. These are some examples of how depth studies can be included in assessment schedules. So, what we have there are five examples of how they could fit into a scope and sequence.
So, again, a depth study can be things that can take short periods of time or they can be something that can take larger chunks of time, remembering that you do need to meet a minimum of 15 hours in Year 11 and a minimum of 15 hours in Year 12, and for Investigating Science this is 30 for each year. But again, very pliable in terms of where a depth study can sit, very pliable in terms of how long they can take as well. But again, small steps to start off with. Here are some examples in terms of how to schedule depth studies. And, again, we've given three examples there. So the first one is more than 15 hours for a depth study. Example 2 is about nine hours, so you would imagine to do another depth study that would fill the rest that would fill six hours or do more than that. And the third one, example 3, is a smaller depth study as well.
So, the possibility, one possibility to guide students and to reduce the anxiety for students, is to be able to teach them the skills so that they have the ability to then continue doing depth studies as well, and remembering to set the tasks so it's just right for the cohort. They want something that's challenging, but not too hard and not too easy. Within the first example, it's very structured, so the teacher models the depth study and skills. That can take three hours. Students can work jointly on a second one. Students can then work in pairs. And then students can work independently. And, again, the last task can be the one which is formally assessed. Smaller depth studies for students to engage in - again, you choose whether these are going to be formally assessed or not - could be students are given pre-work for an excursion or fieldwork. Students can attend that excursion and they come back and they work independently to better produce a piece of work which looks at extending that knowledge and understanding outcome and engaging in those scientific skills.
Third example there, a smaller depth study. Students can research a scientific process, so you're looking at being able to do some pre-work before watching a film or a movie. Students can watch a movie that relates to science in some way and then analyse that. What we do have today as a scaffold is that third example for you which looks at the Fact or Fallacy module in Investigating Science. So, before we end here, just a few frequently asked questions that we've had thus far, just to answer those. And, again, we'll open up the Question & Answer later as well for you to be able to ask questions which you have around depth studies. First question that we've had is, how many times can a depth study be assessed? So students may undertake a number of depth studies throughout the year to build a depth of understanding across a number of outcomes.
However, only one depth study can be formally assessed. So, we talk about formal assessment, we talk about putting that within the assessment schedule. Other depth studies can be informally assessed. So, again, the purpose of a depth study is to build students' depth in what they're doing within science and, again, to extend and demonstrate a range of scientific skills, remembering that there are mandatory ones which you do have to meet, and that's Communication, or Communicating rather, and Questioning and Predicting. Does all the Working Scientifically content need to be assessed in each depth study? No. Teachers can choose Working Scientifically content suitable for the cohort - again, or even for the class or individual student - from each required Working Scientifically outcome.
Working Scientifically outcomes are Stage 6. The students may not be ready to access all the content in Year 11 or early Year 12, so making sure that what they're accessing is relevant to what they are studying. The content of the outcomes does not have to be shown on the task or the assessment schedule, remembering that you are just showing what outcomes students are engaging in because they can meet those outcomes in a number of ways. In relation to "Do all the Working Scientifically content need to be assessed?", can you include more than two extra Working Scientifically outcomes? Yes, you can.
The outcomes of Questioning and Predicting, and Communication, are mandatory. A minimum of two extra Working Scientifically outcomes must be chosen which relate to the task. And, again, you can choose more than this. So you can choose three Working Scientifically outcomes, the three additional Working Scientifically outcomes. But again, looking at those Working Scientifically outcomes, relevant to the task that you are doing. When we're talking about assessments in school, we're referring to the assessment tasks on the assessment schedule. Again, just clarification just to make sure that we understand that only one depth study can be assessed, or an aspect of the depth study would need to be assessed, on the assessment schedule. Thank you very much for coming to today's session about depth studies.
Just to provide a bit of an update, NESA is still releasing support documents around depth studies. They haven't yet released any materials on assessment in science or any examples, so we assume that they're still coming. We have other organisations like Lachlan Macquarie College, which is part of the Department of Education. That study will help to develop materials and activities that can be used as depth studies. There are other organisations out there as well, like ANSTO, who are developing material that could also be used as well. Also remembering that the mEsh project that we have for Stage 6 Science, which is for New South Wales public schools, will have a series of resources, including sample assessments, scopes and sequences, sample units of work, assessment examples, and even examples of depth studies that will be available in Term 4. That will be housed on the curriculum website. And all those documents will be ready for you to use and will be accessible as well, to be able to be published. So, thank you very much for coming.
We'll open up the next layout just for you guys to be able to ask some questions. Thank you very much for coming. This is the final session that we do have in terms of professional development or Adobe Connect sessions for the new syllabus. A recording of today's session will be available soon, and they will be available on this website, so connect. schools.nsw.edu.au/meshscience. And you'll see those in the Adobe Connect sessions. And you can access those past recordings there. All presentations, recordings, support documents will be published on the science curriculum website soon. So please note, at this point, that all presentations, recordings and resources are accurate at the time of publication, remembering that some things can change with NESA, and if they do we will highlight those changes for you. Again, just a final reminder, Stage 6 mEsh project for science will upload resources, including assessment examples, scope and sequences, sample units of work and depth study example scaffolds, and they will come out at the start of Term 4
Speaker: Cherine Spiridou
Can I just add something? Sorry, Vatché. Can I just add something to that? Just one thing that you need to realise is that with the depth studies, if a student is doing Chemistry, Physics and Biology, for instance, or any combination of any of the science courses, they have to do a depth study for each one and they can't be combined. So that's something that we've got to be very, very careful of. And we've got to be able to understand, the students, that all the work in Scientific outcomes are the same, but the actual depth of whatever they're doing is different for everyone.
Speaker: Vatche Ansourian
The question pod is open if you want to ask some questions. And we'll do our best to be able to answer those. Any things that relate to NESA, we will just give you a response as best we can, but we may direct you to NESA just for further clarification. Thank you, everyone, for coming to the final session today, which is about depth studies. As a reminder, all previous sessions have been recorded, so you can access those, including support materials. We're just going to stop the recording here and, again, you'll be able to access this as well afterwards. The questions...we'll still be answering more questions as well, so if you do want to stay behind, please do, and we'll continue answering those. Thank you very much for joining us.
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