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Opportunities to learn at different curriculum levels

Students make progress when they can demonstrate greater capability in using evidence to support their claims. For this to happen they need to encounter tasks that stretch them, yet are achievable. A mix of the aspects in the task design will determine its overall difficulty level for students. The table contrasts features more typical of Level 1 and 2 tasks with those students might encounter at level 5. Level 3 and 4 tasks/contexts will combine some easier and some more demanding features.

Aspect of task at level 1/2 Aspect of task at level 5

Framing of task

The task has been shaped to eliminate ambiguity – what is displayed directs attention to the relevant evidence.

e.g. a simple summary of what scientists noticed, or a table to record evidence if drawing on their own investigation

The relationship between the evidence and the claim is likely to be simple and direct.

The task involves use of simple familiar language and questions as students talk about what the evidence is telling them: e.g. How do you know…? How could you check…?

There are opportunities for practicing evidence-based talk: e.g. I think… because…

Framing of task

The task is open to interpretation because some aspect of the evidence cannot be taken for granted. 

e.g. when there is not enough evidence to be convincing, when evidence refutes predictions, when additional evidence requires existing theories to be reconsidered.

The task is likely to require students to consider multiple pieces of evidence before making a judgment.

Some tasks require students to explore instances of disconfirming evidence, or conflicting evidence.

These ideas introduce an element of uncertainty that students need to acknowledge and manage.

Choice of context

The context is likely to be familiar or easily associated with something that is already familiar to many students.

The context can be readily accessed.

Choice of context

A wider range of contexts will be used: some familiar, some less so.

The context might present an unexpected or surprising aspect of something so familiar that it tends to be taken for granted.

Prior science knowledge

The task uses everyday ideas and language, or very simple and familiar science ideas, to give meaning to the evidence and the idea(s) the evidence supports.

Prior science knowledge

The task draws on students’ prior science knowledge of relevant concepts. These act as a guide to what it might be important to draw on as evidence.

Metacognitive awareness

Reflective talk about the task raises students’ awareness of what can count as evidence.


Metacognitive awareness

Reflection provides opportunities to increase students’ awareness of instances when they are weighing up evidence before making a decision.

Students have opportunities to talk about what it feels like to make evidence-based decisions.