This paper presents an example of a modest educational design innovation (Bereiter and Scardamalia, 2008). Compared with the lifelong literacy project discussed in the first presentation in this symposium (Twist and Hipkins, 2009) this is a short discrete piece of research designed to explore a specific working hypothesis. The focus is on just one of the five key competencies in the New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007). Using language, symbols and texts is arguably the least well understood of the five competencies so the paper begins with a brief overview of its potential scope and ways the meaning of this key competency might be interpreted in practice. The design experiment took place in the context of developing items for New Zealand’s Assessment Resource Banks (ARBs) and the second section of the paper provides a brief outline of the processes followed. The third section then documents the thinking behind the development of one specific item and reports on results when it was trialled with students. The final section briefly outlines wider implications of shaping learning conversations that focus on communication processes designed to support our meaning-making.
Paper presented at Australian Association for Research in Education International Education Research Conference, Canberra, Australia, 1 December 2009 .