NZET: About the Outcomes Typology
Developing a typology for the NZET Outcomes theses database
A typology of outcomes related to the implementation of the New Zealand Curriculum 2007 (NZC) could be constructed in any number of ways. In what follows we have endeavoured to reflect the key messages conveyed by the “front end” of NZC (vision, values, principles, and key competencies) about what is important for learning and learners. Doing this has allowed us to keep the categories relatively open but also hopefully to “future proof” the database to the extent that this is possible, by ensuring that the categories used are likely to be of enduring interest and relevance over time. Three specific aspects of the typology that follows are intended to do this work of “future-proofing” while also ensuring maximum usefulness of the database to researchers now.
1. A focus on the “front end” messages of NZC
Given the high regard in which the framework of NZC is held, and the ongoing work in schools to understand and develop the full reach of its messages, it seems unlikely that we will see further change at this level of national curriculum detail in the near future. NZC puts students at the centre of learning so the main focus of this typology is on the various types of outcomes for students that NZC signals as important.
NZC also conveys the clear message that pedagogy is an important part of curriculum delivery and that inquiry into the relationship between pedagogy and outcomes for students (i.e. teaching as inquiry) is an important part of teachers’ work. For this reason the typology includes some categories that focus on students’ opportunities to learn, where the relationship between the student and the outcome is demonstrably mediated by what the teacher does, or by some aspect of the wider school climate.
2. Retrofitting earlier ideas to newer policy concepts and foci
Important ideas or terms that have only recently entered the policy discourse have been grouped with ideas on which they have enlarged, or in some cases replaced. These terms might well have been used by some authors had they been available at the time they competed their thesis. One example is the idea of “careers competencies”. This idea post-dates the NZC key competencies and is informed by debates about their nature and outcomes. The idea of careers competencies signals some important shifts in the focus for provision of careers education, and we might anticipate some theses in this area in the future (see no. 3 below). Meanwhile, earlier theses that draw on idea of careers choices and pathways might well provide useful material for people searching with careers questions in mind. Putting them together in the typology will allow researchers to address newer questions while also drawing on existing evidence.
Researchers will need to use the grouped categories carefully: linking them for search purposes does not imply that findings from earlier projects can be directly claimed as evidence of outcomes of newer constructs.
3. Anticipating theses currently in production
As exemplified above, it is possible to anticipate some areas where theses have not yet been published but might well be so in the near future. We have kept in mind at least three or four in-progress theses of which we are personally aware, and that might well break new ground in discussions about factors that impact on student outcomes. Some categories in the typology might be “empty” in the immediate future but we can expect all to be populated within a year or two.
Informed feedback that identifies gaps will of course be welcome.
Seven categories are suggested
Note that each type of outcome is described as a change, rather than specifically signalling a gain or improvement. While positive outcomes are clearly intended and desirable, it is important that the database does not exclude the possibility of unanticipated negative outcomes.
Testing the typology
We progressively refined both the focus areas and the search terms subsumed under each by applying the typology to all the relevant recent abstracts we were able to locate. Not every abstract contained information in every category and we occasionally needed to infer a relevant link.
Dr Rose Hipkins,
New Zealand Council for Educational Research
 Both larger scale MOE funded projects - Curriculum Exploratory Studies (CIES) and Monitoring and Evaluating Curriculum Implementation (MECI) - reported this high regard for NZC, as have the relevant ERO reports and the NZCER national surveys of primary and secondary schools.
 For example NZCER’s Karen Vaughan is actively researching in this area and many school careers advisers are aware of her work and new questions.