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  • Question

    HELP! I am needing clarification of the following Modelling ideas. Or more importantly; how I could explain practical and functional reasoning as seen in a students own practice. Q1: Functional reasoning focuses on “how to make it happen” and “how it is happening?”. What would examples of this be in a Digital Technologies context? Say a kid is developing a wire frame for a website, which would then be implemented in HTML .... or a kid is developing a database model before implementing a physical database in MS Access. Q2: Practical reasoning focuses on “should we make it happen” and “should it be happening?” Again, Say a kid is developing a wire frame for a website, which would then be implemented in HTML .... or a kid is developing a database model before implementing a physical database in MS Access.


    Firstly, to the specifics in your question…

    The two types of reasoning that you refer to in your question (functional reasoning and practical reasoning) are to ensure that a holistic evaluation of a technological outcome’s potential and actual impact on the world is made during the technological modelling.

    Functional reasoning provides a basis for exploring the technical feasibility of the design concept and the outcome. Examples of this in a website context could be the ease of navigation around the site, the legibility and readability of text on the web pages, the speed that images or other content loads, how the website behaves across browsers and across platforms. Examples in the database context could be the actual structure of the database, the required fields, field formatting considerations, the layout of forms and reports, the behaviour of data validation rules, and the output produced in reports. So the functional reasoning is around decisions as to could it happen (how to make it happen) in functional modelling and how is it happening in prototyping.

    The practical reasoning aspect introduces another dimension by providing a basis to explore the acceptability of the design concept and the outcome itself. This relates to such things as moral, ethical, social, political, economic, and environmental dimensions. Not all of these will necessarily apply in any particular case. Examples of this in the website context could be around the age appropriateness of material (text, images, other media content), privacy considerations (such as not using images of people without appropriate permission or not giving out personal details), copyright considerations, or cultural considerations such as connotations of particular colours or combinations of colours. In the database context the issues around privacy would be significant here such as adherence with the principles in the Privacy Act in the way information is collected, stored etc. So the practical reasoning is around decisions as to should it happen in functional modelling and should it be happening in prototyping.

    Secondly, some general comments about technological modelling that are not specifically referred to in your question but are worth reiterating here…

    There is support material available on Technology Online for technological modelling. See key ideas on technological modelling.

    The indicators of progression contains the achievement objectives, teacher guidance, and indicators. See technological modelling indicators of progression.

    Remember technological modelling covers both functional modelling and prototyping. These two types of reasoning (functional reasoning and practical reasoning) are both involved at both the concept stage when functional modelling is used to explore the feasibility of the design concept and at the prototype stage when the feasibility of the finished outcome is explored.

    The standards at level one and two for technological modelling are about students understanding about modelling as opposed to students doing modelling. Whilst students do learn by doing, the standards are not asking for a diary of practice showing their own modelling but rather a report that shows their understanding about modelling. At level one the report should demonstrate understanding of how technological modelling supports decision-making. At level two the report should demonstrate understanding of how technological modelling supports risk management.

  • Question

    What is an appropriate topic to teach which aligns with with the level 3 AO of "understand that technological outcomes are recognisable as fit for purpose by the relationship between their physical and functional natures?"


    Nature of Technology
    This question is related to characteristics of Technological outcomes at Curriculum level 3 (NOT NCEA) Where students are required to demonstrate understanding that technological outcomes are recognisable as fit for purpose by the relationship between their physical and functional natures.
    The indicators of progression with teacher guidance give clear guidance about this objective. See indicators of progression for characteristics of technological outcomes.
    To support students to develop understanding of characteristics of technological outcomes at level 3, students need to be exposed to a range of technological outcomes with unknown functions to explore and guide them to make informed suggestions regarding who might use them and the possible function they could perform, based on the physical and functional attributes of the outcome. They also need to explore a range of technological outcomes that are similar in their functional nature but have differences in their physical natures and conversely the opposite. Students should understand that the intended use and users, social and physical locations all combine to determine how the physical and functional attributes can be best matched for fitness for purpose. For example; a selection of brooms could be described as having similar functional attributes (clean an area by sweeping unwanted material to another location, able to be used while standing) but whether they are for a young child to sweep dust of the kitchen floor or for an adult to sweep water off driveways will mean quite different physical attributes will be necessary to ensure the broom is fit for its purpose. In the reverse a selection of brushes could be described as having similar physical natures (all have flexible bristles) but the way in which they are used will determine their functional nature as to whether they function to clean, as a means of holding and spread a substance, as in painting or to move something as in sweeping. Students also need to understand the relationship between the physical and functional nature in a technological outcome.
    Indicators of progression also give a clue as to what to teach as these are the outcomes you are looking for in student activity, discussion and any written evidence
    Students can:
    • describe possible users and functions of a technological outcome based on clues provided by its physical attributes
    • describe examples of technological outcomes with different physical natures that have similar functional natures
    • describe examples of technological outcomes with different functional natures that have similar physical natures
    • explain why a technological outcome could be called a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ design.
    So to explore these concepts you could work within any of the following contexts
    For example:
    • a range of raising agents to explore how different raising agents effect the physical outcome.
    • A range of potato peelers, different looking ones, made from range of materials, but all have same function
    • categories of finishes (such as oil, varnish, paint)
    • a range of brushes (hair, paint, washing up ....)
    • Explore functions of, for example, bags that are there to do similar things in terms of physical nature.
    • A cake, muffin, and bread, have similar ingredients with similar functional ingredients functional natures, but each has a different physical nature.

  • Question

    Explain the differences between health and safety in the industry and classroom.


    Guidance on health and safety in technology spaces can be found at: Safety in technology education revised 2017.

  • Question

    Still confused about key attributes! I hear about 'functional attributes' and 'physical attributes'. I used to think that 'performance specifications' took care of everything. I think that it is difficult for some students to grasp these concepts. Please explain these in terms which I will be able to put across to my student, using 3D examples.


    'Functional attributes' refers to those characteristics that describe what a product (technological outcome) ‘does’ or ‘how it is to function’. Examples of functional attributes for a potato peeler could include attributes such as: able to peel a potato, able to be washed in a dishwasher, blade swivels.

    ‘Physical attributes’ describe what the product ‘looks like’, feels like, smells like etc. For example in the case of a potato peeler physical attributes could include: shaped to look like a potato, handle soft and spongy.

    Each of these (functional attributes and physical attributes) can be refined into specifications that define the physical and/or functional requirements of the outcome in terms that allow them to be measured (i.e. enable a technological outcome’s ‘fitness for purpose’ to be determined). In the case of a potato peeler specifications focused on function could be: peel thickness removed from the potato to be between 1.2 -1.5mm; blade to swivel 90 degrees. Examples of specifications that describe the physical requirements of a potato peeler could be: handle made from sky blue or lime green PVC; blade made from T304 stainless steel.

  • Question

    In AS91066, Use rendering techniques to communicate the form of design ideas, does the paper have to be white? If a student had designed a yellow letterbox for example, would it be fine if they rendered their work on yellow paper?


    White paper is not a restriction. In fact coloured paper for rendering is an acceptable practice and often allows the student to show stronger highlights and shadows. Buff coloured paper, for instance, is easier on the eye than white paper and often helps students with dyslexia to see shapes with more ease, plus it is often easier for all students’ to use. White paper is often too “precious” and can stop students being more expressive. Another suggestion is to use coloured paper with a high GSM. Photocopy paper has a GSM of 80 gms. A paper with 130 to 160 gsm is a good rendering paper and allows students to build up colour without the paper buckling.

  • Question

    After a TENZ Skype session with the moderators of technology we were told that this forum had a couple of excellent explanations for the "fitness for purpose in the broadest sense". Relating to 3.3 and 3.4. However, I don't seem to be able to locate them – could you please direct my search and then I can share it with others.


    Entering "fitness for purpose in its broadest sense" in the keywords search brings up the following result: Search resultTwo answers in this search give the detailed questions and answers for this concept – one in textiles, the other in digital.

  • Question

    Our school has decided to look at Generic Technology 1.12 as a guiding document on the development of process in a manufacturing context. This works well under Construction and Food Technology. However, I am trying to figure out how to put this in a Digital Technologies context to help meet the Generic Technology that this is under and provide guidance for my students to develop the ideas http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/nqfdocs/ncea-resource/achievements/2015/as91055.pdf The standard talks about a large number of manufacturing processes, one being an electronics focus. Yet there is little or no other coverage of other Digital Technologies strands. Can there be some guidance on how this can fit within the Generic context for Digital Technologies? Can guidance also be provided for describing the yield of a manufacturing process and the role of quality control in a digital technologies - programming context?


    Learning programme design in Technology should be driven by multiple factors. Guidance is provided in the Senior secondary teaching and learning guidelines - Learning programme design.

    It is not ideal to have the assessment tool driving the programme design. The purpose of the assessment for this achievement standard is for students to demonstrate they have an understanding about the (often multiple) complexities of manufacturing.

    There are lots of digital technologies context examples students could refer to. For example, the manufacturing of cell phones, tablets etc. The Owens Design website states, “The challenge of manufacturing cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices continues to grow more complex. The trends of increasing device complexity, miniaturization, and customization are driving a revolution in manufacturing process.” This website includes a range of case studies. See Mobile devices

    Students could look at the role of programming/computer science in relation to production lines and robotics.  Most equipment on a production line has an element of computer programming that enables it to perform a specific task. For example, Howard Wright use a computer-generated production line to manufacture their beds. They have programmed robotic equipment to move at an optimal pace to retain precision and maximise yield.

  • Question

    In regards to AS 91627 Initiate design ideas through exploration. The standard states" Visual communication strategies (including 2D, 3D and 4D modes) that support the interrogation and re-generation of ideas may include: abstraction, re-combination, tessellation, exaggeration, rotation, inversion, translation, translocation,deconstruction". My students are completing a fashion portfolio and I am wondering if the specifications above can include 3D textile application to explore ideas? Can students explore creative textile techniques and photograph and/or put samples on portfolio pages?


    Yes. The strategies defined employed in ideation (initiate design ideas through exploration) can be extended beyond what is indicated in the standard.

  • Question

    I am teaching Level 3 Technology and the standard is: 91611 Develop a prototype considering fitness for purpose in the broadest sense. Can you please explain what the following terms mean; 'cultural appropriateness of trialling procedures' and 'ethical nature of testing practices' in regards to judgements about fitness for purpose. Thank you


    Fitness for purpose in its broadest sense relates to the outcome itself as well as to the practices used to develop the outcome. This is a curriculum level 8 concept and is referred to in the generic achievement standards at NCEA level 3. Some of the areas students could consider when demonstrating understandings of this concept and/or applying this within practice are shown in the table below. These suggestions should not be considered exhaustive and students will find other ideas that relate to particular outcomes.

    Some teachers have found that, when developing a brief that allows fitness for purpose in the broadest sense, it works well to have students develop specifications for the two aspects. That is, students categorise their specifications as either being for the outcome itself or for the practices to be undertaken to develop the outcome. This helps to reinforce that students must consider more than just fitness for purpose (as is the practice at NCEA level 2).

    Examining and critiquing the practice of technologists within the framework of fitness for purpose in its broadest sense can also assist students to develop their understandings of this concept.

    Fitness for purpose in its broadest sense:
    Possible considerations
    Resistant materials
    Sustainability of resources

    Do the resources used to make the outcome meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs?

    As part of sustainability we need to also consider the difference between recycling , reusing and upcycling of materials and components.

    What do we know or are able to find out about the production and processing of the materials?



    How will repairs be managed?

    What maintenance will be required? How easy will this be? Who will do it?

    Are the parts easily procured? Is it cost effective to be selfmade? (that is, where is the line between purchasing and manufacturing components?)

    What is the expected product life? 

    Determination of life cycle


    What will be the life cycle be of all of the components of the outcome?

    Will there be any opportunities for reuse?

    Ultimate disposal


    What are the plans for disposal of the outcome when no longer useful/redundant?

    What will the impact on the environment be? 

    Practices used in manufacturing


    Where relevant outcomes should comply with legislation, for example, with intellectual property law and using the ideas of others.
    See: Technology Online, Intellectual property issues
    Has permission been gained for all images?

    Do the practices comply with expected codes of practice and any relevant legislation?

    Where do the materials originate from and what are the working conditions of employees?

    Are the manufacturing practices used efficient?

    What determinants are used to quantify efficiency?

    Is waste minimised, managed, exploited for profit?


    Are there cost/benefit relationships to be considered in developing the outcome?

    Are wider unseen costs included in feasibility calculations?

    Cultural appropriateness of trialling procedures 


    Have you considered how other cultures or age groups may view designs and imagery and their willingness or not to be involved in trialling as a result of this?

    Were cultural beliefs around behaviour considered when trialling?

    Ethical nature of testing practices

    Ergonomics – was the outcome tested on a range of expected users including those with disabilities?

    Was the outcome tested in the environment that was intended for its use? 

    Health and safety


    Considering health and safety issues when developing outcomes 

    If you cannot view or read the table on this page, download the PDF version:

    Ask an expert: AS91611 (PDF, 46 KB)

  • Question

    Hi all, I am looking for some fresh ideas for AS 91083 for Food. Last year we looked at wedding cakes and combined it into a big unit with AS 91049 External. It was somewhat successful but needs improving. I have attached the booklet made last year. Any ideas or improvements would be so greatly appreciated! Thanks.


    The intention of the processing standards from level 1-3 NCEA is to encourage students and teachers to learn about processing operations and testing for food technology courses. 

    You may wish to reconsider the focus of this unit (i.e. sponge cake) as it provides limited opportunities for students to vary processing operations (e.g. changing temperature and types of baking (fan bake etc.), types of beating, time) and still achieve an acceptable product.

    If you chose a product that has more scope e.g. cakes rather than just sponge cakes it would allow the students to test and trial different processing operations and so develop a more comprehensive understanding of basic concepts used in processing. 

    Biscuits and cakes would allow for a broader range of acceptable characteristics (specifications of a quality product) and would also allow students to experiment with processing techniques such as mixing methods, temperature of ingredients, time of processing, shaping and sizing the final product and baking methods.

    Another suitable product could be a frozen meal for one. Students could trial different processes for preparing the components of the meal and test and evaluate the effect of these changes on the reconstituted meal. For example, vegetables could be blanched or not, prepared in different cuts etc. 

    Technology understandings are more effectively developed when students work on an authentic issue. 

    You could make the understanding purposeful for students if they made biscuits or meals as presents for an elderly group in the community, teachers etc. - or for a fund raiser for their department or community organisation. The video clips below may give you other ideas -they show a school working on community projects with food technology students. 

    For AS 91083, the focus of student’s practical work should be to make a change to the processing of the product, test it and evaluate the effect that this has had on the acceptability of the final product. Students could develop a set of specifications for the final product as a class. They may like to examine commercial products or interview a commercial manufacturer to develop these specifications. 

    It is important to note that the focus of this standard is on the processing and associated testing in making a product and not on the effect that changing ingredients has on the type of product produced. All 4 processing operations as outlined in Explanatory note 4 must be covered. 

    Students need to be given the opportunity to explore a range of processing operations and tests to collect evidence of understanding for this standard. It is worth noting that the practical work is not a requirement of the standard but just a way of growing understandings of basic concepts used in processing. 

    See Technology clarifications for this standard.

    Testing in food processing provides guidance to help students understand testing in a classroom environment. This resource highlights the type of qualities that food technologists could identify and test for when processing products. 

    Some teachers have had success in assessing against AS9108 Implement basic procedures to process a specified product alongside a project with this style of practical work. 

    For 91049 Demonstrate understanding of how materials enable technological products to function, the focus of the teaching and learning should be around the materials. In the case of food, the materials are the ingredients used in the product. 

    The Assessment report for this standard provides further information on the range of ingredients and depth of understanding that is required to demonstrate understanding at the different achievement levels for this standard. 

    The frozen meal context could also provide an opportunity to explore the nutritional value of the meal, its contribution to daily requirements and hence also provide evidence for AS 91049. 

    Students could be collecting evidence for both standards as they explore their product.

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