The first two levels are lower-level inquiries but they can be used to develop students’ inquiry skills so that they can engage in scientific inquiry which has less teacher guidance and more student self-direction. Students often engage with these two levels of inquiry before more open forms of inquiry are used; however, this practice merely reflects a common order of adopting inquiry approaches, and extending the range of approaches available to teaching classes; it does not suggest a progression or improvement along the way. Opportunities to apply inquiry skills in increasingly complex learning situations can be included when students have developed confidence and capacity in inquiry processes.
Contemporary issues in science
Increasingly, arguments between scientists are discourses that extend into the public domain. This specification enables teachers to provide opportunities for students to investigate contemporary scientific issues, supporting students to make connections between science, other subjects and everyday experiences. Students will engage with contemporary issues in science that affect everyday life. They will learn, interpret and analyse data—a skill that has a value far beyond science wherever data are used as evidence to support argument. In presenting evidence and findings, they will engage in objectively justifying and discussing conclusions.
Science also develops by people pursuing their individual interests and this specification affords a reasonable degree of flexibility for teachers and students to make their own choices and pursue their interests. For example, aspects from the different contextual strands may be woven together and large pieces of the specification may be organised around themes or 'big ideas' that focus on areas of personal, local, national, and/or global interest. This specification offers many possible routes for an integrated science approach; the most obvious are provided by the crosscutting elements, Energy and Sustainability.
Inquiry and assessment
As well as varied teaching approaches, varied assessment approaches can be designed to support learning and provide information that can be used as feedback, so that teaching and learning activities can be modified to meet individual needs. Through engaging tasks, asking higher-order questions, and giving feedback that promotes student autonomy, assessment can support learning as well as summarising achievement.