Supported by a range of curriculum resources and tools, Primary Connections empowers teachers to make evidence-based judgements that inform student assessment and guide teaching and learning.
Watch: Assessing primary science: the Primary Connections approach
Assessment in science inquiry is on-going, embedded and involves monitoring, review and adjustment. Opportunities for assessment of Science Understanding (SU), Science Inquiry Skills (SIS) and Science as a Human Endeavour (SHE) exist throughout the phases of the 5E model. The purpose of assessment is determined by the intent of the phase.
Visit this page to explore a range of assessment tools and pedagogies that reveal students' existing ideas so that teachers are aware of current conceptions and can plan to extend and challenge as appropriate.
The following is a list of questions frequently asked at workshops. Please note that responses represent suggestions and general advice only.
Primary Connections works with teachers to support primary science education. We acknowledge and recommend that decisions and approaches to assessment are referenced with state and jurisdiction advice, school contexts and teacher judgement.
Created to support each Primary Connections unit, an annotation record contains details of the outcomes, achievement standards and work sample expectations relevant to a unit. It provides a framework for teachers' anecdotal records.
Questioning for assessment
Effective questioning techniques are an essential part of a teacher's toolkit. Great questions allow teachers to gather diagnostic, formative and summative assessment information.
Representing understanding is key to science conceptual development. If a student demonstrates understanding of a concept in the Engage phase, consider the following:
- How is the student representing understanding? Is this based on knowledge, understanding or both?
- Is the student able to re-represent understanding in different ways, using multiple modalities? For example, using an annotated drawing, role play or other? Understanding, evidenced through accurate re-representation, is more indicative of deeper learning of science concepts.
- Is the student able to demonstrate transfer and application of the concept across unfamiliar contexts?
- Why does the student present with this capacity? Unpacking student interest in specific areas of the science curriculum is valuable information. However, don’t assume knowledge and understanding of a concept translates across science concepts. For example, students demonstrate varying knowledge across the Science Strands.
When you are confident to summatively assess knowledge of the science concept, create opportunities to enrich learning experiences with a focus on the Science Inquiry Skills.
- Gather feedback to evaluate student knowledge and understanding through questioning.
- Challenge students to re-represent in different ways, and more than once.
- Assess the student’s conceptual understanding summatively and use this as a formative assessment opportunity to plan where to go next for that student or group.
Group work enables collaborative learning and is essential for science inquiry. The Primary Connections’ collaborative learning approach is structured and involves students being assigned team roles. The approach includes suggestions for best-practice implementation with emphasis on difference between Foundation to Year 2, and Year 3 – 6. Working in structured teams, students practise team-work, listening and discussion skills.
Collaboration is also a sub-element of the Australian Curriculum: General Capabilities. Read more about the Personal and Social Capability learning continuum.
When working in teams, encourage students to record thoughts, ideas and learning as individuals. In this way, teachers have evidence for each student for assessment purposes. Support students to use the Working In Teams Self-Assessment tool (WITSA). This provides great insight for both students and teachers to inform collaborative learning and gather assessment data. Included are downloads for a WITSA infographic, and template for students.
Consider capturing audio or video of team-work and/or discussion. Use this to inform judgements about student learning when working in teams.
Primary Connections curriculum units use the 5E model for guided inquiry. When units are facilitated with the intent of each phase, and using phase-appropriate pedagogies, there are multiple and embedded assessment opportunities that provide teachers with a variety of work samples and data.
Student resource sheets, embedded in units at specific phases, are suitable work samples that support teachers to gather evidence of Science Understanding (SU), Science Inquiry Skills (SIS) and Science as a Human Endeavour (SHE). Student resource sheets are based on the following approach to assessment:
|Engage||Diagnostic (of SU and SHE)|
|Explore||Formative (of SU, SIS and SHE)|
|Explain||Formative (of SU)|
|Elaborate||Summative (of SIS, SU and SHE)|
|Evaluate||Summative (of SU and SHE)|
Teachers are encouraged to draw on a range of learning activities to inform assessment. These may be formal or informal, written or anecdotal, brief or detailed, short or lengthy. Teachers may adjust resource sheets provided in Primary Connections units to better suit the needs of students.
Access digital e-Resource sheets for all Primary Connections units.
Assessment within the 5E model is an ongoing process of monitoring, evaluation and review. Use learning experiences such as investigations, literacy foci, discussions, TWLH charts, hands-on activities etc. to gather evidence for assessment in an ongoing way. Student science journals and/or class science journals are excellent sources of assessment information. Review science journals regularly and complement this with anecdotal evidence gathered from discussion, collaborative learning tasks and investigations to gather formative assessment data. For summative assessment advice, refer to the table above.
Primary Connections units are fully aligned to all three strands of the Australian Curriculum: Science. Evidence of alignment is documented in the beginning sections of units and includes examples of unit-specific general capabilities information. Teaching a Primary Connections unit affords students and teachers appropriate and numerous assessment opportunities that address achievement outcomes. Rubrics and worksamples are provided for each Primary Connections unit to support record keeping and inform reporting.
There are many opportunities to monitor and assess Science Inquiry Skills across a unit. Focus on the Explore and Elaborate phases with emphasis on the sub-strands: Questioning and predicting; Planning and conducting; Processing and analysing data and information; Evaluating and Communicating. Refer to the Australian Curriculum: Science for Work Sample Portfolios. View an example of a satisfactory Year 4 Investigation report (pages 16-19).
Assessment enables teachers to monitor, review and adjust learning throughout science inquiry. This is an ongoing and dynamic process of learning and teaching. Although teachers may not collect detailed and formal student work samples for every 5E phase, it is recommended that teachers monitor and track learning progress in every phase regularly. A great tool to support this is the 5E tracker.
Primary Connections’ embedded resource sheets support students to demonstrate understanding and skills. The resource sheets can be used as assessment tasks. If you are confident with anecdotal records, and can draw on ongoing evidence from student science journals to inform students’ readiness to progress to subsequent 5E phases, then formal assessment tasks may be omitted. Teacher judgement is the most valued approach in deciding on a suitable approach to progress through the 5E cycle.
It is best practice to gather assessment data for the Evaluate phase. This ensures a point of reference to compare with data gathered from the Engage phase. Consider a brief review and recap of the unit after the holidays and provide students an opportunity to discuss and reflect on the unit prompted by student journals. Gather informal evidence of science understanding and provide students an opportunity to reflect on the learning experience and process of inquiry.
Resource sheets for all Primary Connections units, in editable and digital format, are freely available. The e-Resource sheets are Word documents that can be provided to students for use on a range of devices including laptops, Chrome books and tablets.