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  • Question

    Please advise me on the student:teacher ratio for hard materials, food technology, and soft materials in a Technology centre providing specialist Technology for students in years 7 and 8. I cannot find guidelines around the maximum number of students to be taught in such classes.


    Technology is identified as one of the eight essential learning areas (ELA) in The New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007). The other ELA are science, English, social sciences, mathematics and statistics, health and physical education, learning languages, and the arts.

    The National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) for school administration, state that School Boards of Trustees (BOT), through their principal and staff are required to develop and implement teaching and learning programmes that “provide all students in years 1–10 with opportunities to achieve for success in all areas of the National Curriculum” (NAG 1).

    Further supporting NAG1, the National Education Goals (NEGS) require schools to offer students in years 1-10 a “broad education through a balanced curriculum covering essential learning areas” (NEG 5). It goes further in stating that “priority should be given to the development of high levels of [student] competence (knowledge and skills) in literacy and numeracy, science and technology, and physical activity” (NEG 5).

    While neither the NEGs nor the NAGs explicitly state the specific amount of time schools need to devote to student learning in each ELA, including Technology, the expectation is that all students up to and including year 10 will receive a "balanced" programme of learning that incorporates all eight ELA.

    In addition, the PPTA does provide a guide to timetabling. However, the guide includes the statement that the school shall endeavour to meet these guidelines. The PPTA document Class size policy statements (to guide timetabling) states the following:

    1. The school will endeavour to restrict practical classes in rooms of 83m² to the following sizes for reasons of safe supervision and operation.

    Practical Subjects  Year Level   Max Pupil Number
    Music  All years  20
    Technology  All years  20
    Home Economics  All years 20
    Science 7-10 26
      11-12 24
      13-15  20
    Art* and Design   7-10 26
      11-15 20
    PE     Gymnasium   7-10 25
    Assembly Halls 11-15 20
    Playing Pitches/Sports Halls All years  30

    *Art should include performing arts, including drama.

    NB—For laboratories/studios of less than 83m2, the number of pupils to be safely accommodated will be reduced in direct relation to the size of the accommodation.

    This document is available on the PPTA website. See the document Class size policy statements (2007) at the bottom of the page. There is also guidance in this statement on the physical space requirements for Technology classes.

  • Question

    I would like clarification around the use of non-proprietary software applications being used to create a digital media outcome in relation to AS91073. In a recent assessment, students used either MS Publisher or MS Word to create a multi-paged desktop published document (a DVD cover) which integrated still images that students had captured and/or included their own created graphics (for example, barcode). Some students edited the still images in MS Word, and some in Photoshop, and others used online photo editors or other programs that provided the tools to edit/manipulate still images. Some students created textual elements in MS PowerPoint and then exported them as images that they then integrated into the design of their cover. The students final outcomes were fit for purpose and functioned as DVD covers. Is the assessment evidence provided by students who used MS PowerPoint and MS Word invalid because they did not use a proprietary software application such as Publisher or InDesign, hence meaning they do not achieve the standard? Also, the student who created textual elements and exported them as images using MS PowerPoint, created her complete DVD cover using Photoshop. She integrated her still images, the text-based image elements, and her barcode graphic into the cover design that she developed and published using Photoshop. Is the evidence produced from this method valid? Or should she not achieve? The clarification document for this standard indicates that students should create their digital media in at least two applications and also indicates that students are not required to specify or justify the applications used. If students used only one application but integrate two different types of digital media (for example, graphic and still images) can they meet the evidence requirements for this standard? Last question ... does it matter at all what type of software application they use if they are able to integrate different media types to create a digital media outcome?


    The digital media standard is derived from the indicators of progression for the learning objectives for the Technology specialist knowledge and skills strands – create a digital media outcome, level 6 (page 23). Learning objectives for the specialist knowledge and skills strands can be found in the Indicators of Progression section of Technology Online.

    The teacher guidance includes the following.

    "To support students to implement basic procedures to create a digital media outcome at level 6, teachers could:

    • Provide opportunity for students to explore and develop technical expertise with digital media tools.
    • Provide opportunity for students to apply an understanding of digital media to design and create a number of different digital media outcomes using a variety of digital media technologies."

    Students should be taught about tools that are fit for the purpose of the task and should then select those that are appropriate to create their digital media outcomes.  

    Publisher, InDesign, Scribus, and Pages (Mac) are layout-specific software applications. Word may not be a good choice – it is generally considered difficult and clumsy to use for layout. PowerPoint could be used for creating and implementing digital media outcomes such as interactive quizzes, but this would depend on how the outcome was saved. PowerPoint is a "holding pen" for the different media types (for example, video, sound, music, imagery), so the student should be focusing on the media types within the PowerPoint presentation rather than the PowerPoint itself. Image editors such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Fireworks, or Pixlr could be more appropriate than PowerPoint. Hongkiat.com provides some more free software applications for image manipulation. You may also seek clarification from NZQA on achievement standards. This information is in the NZQA circular "Request for Clarification", which replaces "Optional Teacher-selected Evidence" (S2012/030 – 20 Nov 2012). Requests should be made through the principal's nominee. 

  • Question

    Where are the exemplars for AS91377?


    The assessment resource for this standard can be found at:


    You will find examples of the type of evidence expected for this standard in the assessment schedule. There do not appear to be any exemplars of student work for this standard on the NZQA site as yet. 

  • Question

    Please provide a definition of: "synthesising evidence from ongoing research and functional modelling, including feedback from stakeholders, to evaluate conceptual designs" AS91356 Thank you


    Technology is a field of on-going contestation and a technologist is required to manage multiple influences and priorities.

    In synthesising evidence, the student will show that they have considered their research findings, their findings from functional modelling, and their stakeholder feedback. They will look for common elements, and the links between these findings. 

    Students should be reflecting on these findings to evaluate each conceptual design (for example, to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each in terms of the brief being addressed). The idea is that, by pulling together their evidence (synthesising), they will evaluate conceptual designs more robustly.

  • Question

    I would like clarification around the definitions of formulation,manipulation ,and transformation in textiles materials. At level 4 in the component Technological products it states: Provide students with the opportunity to discuss what is meant by materials being formed, manipulated and transformed. Forming refers to bringing two or more materials together to formulate a new material resulting in a different overall composition and structure to that of the original materials. This results in different performance properties. For example: mixing flour, water and salt to make dough; mixing wood fibres, resin and wax to make MDF; glass fibre and a polymer resin combined to form fiberglass or fibre reinforced polymer (FRP). Manipulating materials refers to ‘working’ existing materials in ways that do not change their properties as their composition and structure is not altered. For example: cutting; molding; bending; jointing; gluing; painting. Transforming refers to changing the structure of an existing material to change some of its properties, but in terms of its composition, it remains the same material. For example: felting; beating an egg white; steaming timber to soften its fibres and allow it to be manipulated (bent). I am working in practice with students on a wearable art project. Is melting layers of plastic together manipulating or transforming? Is stretch corduroy a good example of forming? Is the new yarn and fabric WoJo developed by the Formary an example of forming a new material? See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlfI_IdHF0Q Is it likely that students could be forming new textile materials in technological practice?


    Is melting layers of plastic together manipulating or transforming?

    Joining plastic using heat is manipulation - a thicker piece of plastic is created but there are no change in properties as the structure and composition stays the same –it is still plastic just thicker.

    Is stretch corduroy a good example of forming?

    No this is an example of manipulation. The two base materials-cotton and spandex are spun together and then woven into the corduroy fabric. The composition (read chemical ) and the structure of the spandex and cotton is not changed in this process therefore it is not an example of forming a new material.

    Is the new yarn and fabric WoJo® developed by the Formary an example of forming a new material? See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlfI_IdHF0Q

    WoJo® fabric is created by blending wool and jute fibre from coffee sacks. The composition (read chemical) and the structure of the wool and jute is not changed in this process therefore it is not an example of forming a new material. This is an example of manipulation.

    Is it likely that students could be forming new textile materials in technological practice

    It would be unusual for students to be forming new textile materials in the classroom, as this requires access to industrial equipment and facilities. Polyester, Dacron and Terylene are examples of a material that are formed by combining ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid to form polyethylene terephthalate.

  • Question

    What is meant by 'considering the context' when, for example, developing a website? Are you able to give me some examples of what this might 'look' like?


    Context refers to the wider social and physical environment in which the development of a technological outcome (i.e. website) occurs and where it is finally located. In Technology, the physical environment commonly refers to the location where the technological practice is undertaken to develop a technological outcome and where the final outcome will be located.

    For a website this could include considering:

    • the device/s websites can be viewed/used on e.g. phone, iPad, laptop, PC
    • the limitations that software and hardware may place on the website design
    • search engine optimisation
    • how better connections have led to higher expectations eg the inclusion of video/audio

    In Technology, the social environment refers to an individual or groups of people and their input in to the development technological outcome and the end users of the final outcome.

    For a website, the social environment could include considering:

    • the expectations of an end user(s) and how these change across different end-user groups (i.e. changes in a groups social/cultural/age/gender/education make-up). For example:
      • expectations around performance e.g. layout, interaction
      • content preference  e.g. inclusion of blogs etc, ‘contact us’)
      • common ‘loves’ and ‘hates’ of websites
      • what is accepted as ‘good design’
    • internet experience of end users
    • writing standards ‘for the web’- industry terminology /codified knowledge

    A key sign that students have considered ‘context’ when developing a website is that they have identified the needs/expectations of the websites end user. Students should be encouraged to undertake research to identify these needs/expectations; this includes the devices that end users are likely to use. As a website is developed students should undertake technological modelling (tests) on devices to ensure that the site is likely to function on those which end users are most likely to use.

  • Question

    Where can I access the AS 93171 assessment?


    The resources available for "AS 91371 Demonstrate understanding of advanced concepts from computer science" are here. There are also other resources for this standard on the NZQA website page, Technology Subject Resources. On this page, see Resources for externally assessed standards level 2, and the links to the assessment specifications and the assessment reports. 

  • Question

    "PROTOTYPE" Level 1 prototype definition:A prototype is a finished outcome that is ready to be trialled in situ Level 2 and level 3 prototype definition:A prototype is a completed outcome that is yet to be fully implemented The NCEA definition of "prototype" is quite different to the term "prototype" that is used in most areas of the design industry A "prototype" in industry is closer to the term "model" that NCEA use. Wikipedia definition is: Prototype "primitive form" "first" "impression" A prototype is an early sample, model or release of a product built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from. "A prototype is often used as part of the product design process to allow engineers and designers the ability to explore design alternatives, test theories and confirm performance prior to starting production of a new product. Engineers use their experience to tailor the prototype according to the specific unknowns still present in the intended design. In general, an iterative series of prototypes will be designed, constructed and tested as the final design emerges and is prepared for production. With rare exceptions, multiple iterations of prototypes are used to progressively refine the design" "There is no general agreement on what constitutes a "prototype" and the word is often used interchangeably with the word "model" which can cause confusion. In general "prototypes" fall into five basic categories: Proof of principle prototypes (model) Form study (model) User experience (model) Visual (model) Functional (model): (also called a working prototype) will, to the greatest extent practical, attempt to simulate the final design, aesthetics, materials and functionality of the intended design. The functional prototype may be reduced in size (scaled down) in order to reduce costs. The construction of a fully working full scale prototype and the ultimate test of concept, is the engineers final check for design flaws and allows last minute improvements to be made before larger production runs are ordered. In general prototypes will differ from the final production variant in 3 fundamental ways: Materials: Production materials may require manufacturing processes involving higher capital costs than what is practical for prototyping. Instead engineers will attempt to substitute materials with properties that simulate the intended final material. Processes: Often expensive and time consuming unique tooling is required to fabricate a custom design. Prototypes will often compromise by using more variable processes, repeatable or controlled methods. Lower Fidelity: Final production designs often require extensive effort to capture high volume manufacturing detail. Such detail is generally unwarranted for prototypes as some refinement to the design is expected. Engineers and prototyping specialists seek to understand the limitations of prototypes to exactly simulate the characteristics of their intended design. It is important to realise that by their very definition, prototypes will represent some compromise from the final production design. Due to differences in materials, processes and design fidelity, it is possible that a prototype may fail to perform acceptably whereas the production design may have been sound The most common use of the word prototype is a functional, although experimental, version of a non- military machine whose designers would like to have built by mass production means, as opposed to a mock-up, which is an inert representation of a machines appearance, often made of some non durable substance. My confusion is over NCEA defining prototype at level 1 as a "finished outcome" and at levels 2&3 as a "completed outcome" when a prototype in industry is an early sample, model or release of a product built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from. Six years ago I won a 2 year career changer scholarship to train as a technology teacher in NZ Secondary Schools. The scholarships were set up to encourage designers to switch careers to teaching because it had been realised that industry practitioners were needed to teach this subject. I have tried to introduce my students to industry techniques, terms and processes as much as possible but still struggle with some of the definitions and Technological Literacy that the NZC and NCEA administrators expect students and teachers to use. My area of most concern at present is the definition of "prototype." I have recently completed the 1.4, 2.4 and 3.4 prototype standards with my pupils where they constructed, for evaluation and feedback, full scale working models using materials and processes that were similar to ones that they would go on to construct their final outcome in. After evaluating their prototypes they went on to construct their outcome in their chosen materials and making the changes that were needed as a result of their evaluation. Their outcome construction was used to achieve 1.21, 2.21 and 3.21. At recent workshops I have attended I have been told I have been teaching the prototype standard wrongly and to teach it as the NCEA definition which is that the prototype has to be the "finished outcome" or "completed outcome". I have been told that I have given my students twice the amount of work to do that I should have because of not following the standard definition. Should we be teaching to NCEA definitions or industry definitions?


    The definition used for a prototype in the Technology curriculum is described in the Explanatory Paper Outcome development and evaluation downloadable here.In summary, a prototype is a completed outcome that is yet to be fully implemented (see the explanatory notes in the standards relating to developing a prototype).

    There has always been a debate on what is being referred to when the term prototype is used – different industries apply the term quite differently and often very loosely (as you show the Wikipedia definition states "There is no general agreement on what constitutes a "prototype" and the word is often used interchangeably with the word "model" which can cause confusion.) 

    For education this cannot be the case - we have to have a tight definition to avoid confusion and allow examination.

  • Question

    Could you please provide clarification on the definition of prototype within the Technology curriculum? It seems to be  different to  the definition used in Industry. In industry a prototype maybe a model or made out of different materials, but in the curriculum it seems that their prototype has to be made out of exactly the same materials as they intend their finished design to be. This seems strange to me and could mean that a lot of money is wasted making prototypes out of expensive materials that aren't really needed to test the functioning of the design.


    The definition used for a prototype in the Technology curriculum is described in the Explanatory Paper Outcome development and evaluation downloadable at 

    In summary, a prototype is a completed outcome that is yet to be fully implemented (see the explanatory notes in the standards relaing to developing a prototype).There has always been a debate on what is being referred to when the term prototype is used – different industries apply the term quite differently and often very loosely  see the Wikipedia definition  states "There is no general agreement on what constitutes a "prototype" and the word is often used interchangeably with the word "model" which can cause confusion. For education this cannot be the case - we have to have a tight definition to avoid confusion and allow examination.Our New Zealand school curriculum and assessment requires students to trial/evaluate/select  materials/components/techniques/processes/tools/equipment etc  (in consultation with stakeholders) in the process of developing a prototype. The aim is that the prototype will be fit for purpose and therefore materials etc will not be wasted. 
    The development of a prototype is often preceded by the development of a conceptual design. It is at this stage that those concerns about testing the functionality of the design would be ironed out. Design ideas will be tested through functional modelling. A detailed description of how the design will look and function (ie a conceptual design) is produced. This could be in the form of diagrams, models etc (ie not the actual materials). 

  • Question

    When undertaking functional modelling to test design ideas for a website, in the production a conceptual design, what sort of evidence is expected?


    The initial key step is that students (as the designers) are aware of the requirements of the brief they are addressing. Functional modelling  should then be used to test (including with stakeholders) to see whether in fact the student is achieving these attributes for their website. Functional modelling includes the tests that are carried to ensure that the website is functional. There should be evidence of modifications and further stakeholder consultation as refinements are made to meet specifications.
    A useful youtube clip narrated by Cheryl Pym (Secondary Curriculum and Learning Facilitator Te Tapuae O Rehua Consortium – Mau ki te ako)  on Conceptual Design and Attributeshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IJwRf6iPapQ# Evidence for functional modelling could include:

    • transcribed conversations/surveys between the designer, stakeholders and teacher/expert/s e.g. I discussed the idea of ..with ..and ...
    • a site design to define/check the organisational structure -then checked with stakeholders to see if this is as they imagined
    • mock ups or wireframes pages using different fonts, colour etc and testing which the stakeholders consider are most readable
    • mock-ups of content and checking with stakeholders whether these are enticing or not
    • mock-ups of imagery /aesthetics and checking with stakeholders whether this promotes the correct message/culture for this type of website
    • testing some of the code with W3C validation services, testing for valid links external and internal, does the site resize for different devices?, can the fonts be resized?, does it run on different platforms and on different browsers?.
    • checking that the site does not breach any ethical or moral codes.

    Students need guidance on selecting an authentic reason (need or opportunity) for a website that will also give them access to authentic stakeholders who can provide meaningful feedback to inform decision making. That is, the feedback should be related to the specifications of the brief.  For example, if the specification is about readability for a particular audience, these particular stakeholders could be consulted about whether making this change in font size/colour/content make the page more readable. If the website is to promote the school, then authentic stakeholders might be the principal, senior management, parents and students. If it is a gaming website, a focus group of several students who game would provide useful stakeholder feedback.

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