2012

School-assessed
Coursework
Report
Outdoor and Environmental Studies: Units 3 and 4
This report is provided for the first year of implementation of this study and is based on the
coursework audit and Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) statistical
data.

UNIT 3
GENERAL COMMENTS
This year saw the introduction to the new study design for VCE Outdoor and Environmental
Studies as well as a change in the audit process. The coursework audit now begins with a
preliminary survey, stage 1 of the audit, comprising questions relating to assessment planning.
Most schools reported that the survey was a useful process as it gave them a chance to review
their practice and that while a few items were harder than others to answer, it was good to
gain perspective on the new study design and helped ensure there was a good overview of the
whole unit.
The survey provided the audit panel with key information about each school’s assessment
practice and planning and also study specific practices around assessment tasks used, marking
schemes and practical outdoor experiences undertaken. Schools whose information was
vague, lacking detail, missing or wrong were asked to submit further evidence so the
appropriate feedback and advice could be given. In order for the audit panel to fully
understand and be able to pass fair judgment on each school’s submission it is essential that
the material provided for review is well organised, clearly labelled and that the requested
information is sent.
As it was the first year of the study design, some teachers were still coming to terms with the
changes made to the new study design. This was particularly evident throughout Outcome 1
with many assessment tasks still using the terminology from the old study design, despite
schools stating in the survey that they were using the 2012 study design. It is imperative that
teachers use the current terminology from the study design to ensure that students are not
disadvantaged in the end-of-year examination.
As in previous years, 50 per cent of teachers reported using commercially produced Schoolassessed Coursework. Teachers need to use their professional judgment when doing this
because it is the their responsibility to ensure that the School-assessed Coursework selected
meets the requirements of the study design. Sometimes this did not occur. In particular, using
tasks prepared for the previous study design was an issue as was the incorrect labelling of task
types, (they did not match those specified in the study design). Another common issue for
tasks developed within a school was that the actual task did not match the label it was given.
For example, a case study must have stimulus material at the beginning of the task for the
students to respond to. Written analysis and evaluation and a data analysis must also have
this. Ideally the stimulus should involve a practical experience that the students have
undertaken. Outcome 2 generally had more successful results with the main cause of error
being an incorrect task type used for assessment.

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Explanation of task types
The following explanations of task types have been provided to assist teachers to ensure that
tasks meet the requirements of the study design.
A case study is a detailed study of a single environment, event or group. A case study
involves students analysing a collection of information such as stimulus material or
information collected on outdoor experiences.
Data analysis requires students to be presented with data, for example statistics, information,
still or moving images or audio. Students should then be required to use and analyse this
information to form some sort of finding or conclusion.
A multimedia presentation involves students presenting information in a range of formats.
This usually includes two or more data types (for example, text, still and moving images,
sound) and often includes some form of interactivity.
Written analysis and evaluation is a detailed examination of information, for example
stimulus material or a journal of outdoor experiences. This requires students to use
information to analyse (explore complex concepts/relationships) and evaluate (assess
information and make a judgment with reasons).

Relationship to practical outdoor experiences
In order for students to be able to draw on practical experiences in their School-assessed
Coursework, the first experience of the year must be completed before the first assessment.
Asking students to draw on experiences from Units 1 and 2 is not appropriate and does not
meet the requirement that all assessment must be completed in the current calendar year
(VCAA, VCE and VCAL Administrative Handbook 2012, page 42). Additionally this
disadvantages students who are only studying Units 3 and 4. With the mandatory requirement
to include practical outdoor experiences in mind, it is essential that there is a comprehensive
timeline for each unit that clearly schedules practical outdoor experiences to occur before
School-assessed Coursework. This will allow both the student and the teacher to be best
prepared for both the practical experience as well as the assessment of the coursework.

TEACHER SURVEY DATA
Teachers were asked ‘What sources are used in developing tasks for this unit?’ The following
illustration shows the responses that were given. Teachers should be mindful of the fact that
the textbook was written for the previous study design and is now out of date. Teachers need
to be careful when using this as a resource to ensure students are learning information and
terminology that is consistent with the study design. The need for resources is an ongoing
issue for Outdoor and Environmental Studies and teachers are encouraged to check the
resources page in the Outdoor and Environmental Studies section of the VCAA website for
up-to-date and available resources.

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Reuse of assessment tasks
When asked if a task was reused from previous years, the following responses were given. It
is essential that authentication guidelines are in place, so it was pleasing to see no school
reused exact tasks. However, a few schools reported that they were not returning the students
School-assessed Coursework to them. It is essential students have their work returned to
allow for formative assessment to take place and to aid them in their revision for the end-ofyear exam.

Amount of time spent on assessment tasks
Most teachers used one to two hours for their assessments as can be seen in the following
table. Teachers who used more time (two to three hours and more than three hours) generally
had more than one assessment task for the outcome.
Outcome

Less than 1
hour

1–2 hours

2–3 hours

More than 3
hours

Outcome 1

5.6%

50.0%

33.3%

11.1%

Outcome 2

2.8%

66.7%

22.2%

8.3%

Amount of class time spent on assessment tasks
The vast majority of teachers fully completed their assessment within class time. A small
percentage of teachers used 50 to 75 per cent of class time for assessment with, in most cases,
data gathering being completed outside of class time. In these cases task authentication was
outlined and met VCAA standards. If teachers are considering tasks of this nature, it is
imperative that the students’ work can be authenticated.
Outcome

25% or less

25–50%

50–75%

All or nearly all

Outcome 1

0.0%

0.0%

11.1%

88.9%

Outcome 2

0.0%

0.0%

11.1%

88.9%

Marking scheme
As shown below, most teachers used modified VCAA descriptors for their marking; however
some schools failed to include their marking scheme when requested to do so. It is important
to have this information accessible and in an easy to understand format so students can
interpret their marks and identify areas for improvement.
Outcome

VCAA
descriptors

VCAA
descriptors
modified

Outcome 1

33.3%

41.7%

11.1%

13.9%

Outcome 2

36.1%

44.4%

8.3%

11.1%

VCE Outdoor and Environmental Studies School-assessed Coursework Report
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Schooldeveloped
criteria

Other criteria
or marking
guide

3

SPECIFIC INFORMATION
Unit 3 Coursework
Outcome 1
Explain and evaluate how relationships with Australian outdoor environments have changed
over time, with reference to specific outdoor experiences.
Task type options:



case study
multimedia presentation
written analysis and evaluation
oral presentation

For this outcome the most common task type selected was written analysis and evaulation.
However often teachers set tasks that did not fit with a written analysis and evaluation. When
undertaking a written analysis and evaluation the student must have material to analyse and
evaluate – either stimulus provided or practical experiences. Questions must also include the
instructional words of ‘analyse’ and ‘evaluate’ and not just ‘describe’ and ‘explain’ (see
‘Explanation of task types’ earlier).
Multimedia presentations and case studies were also popular and there were some excellent
examples of both. Examples that were particularly good always included clear and specific
instuction to the students as to what they were required to do in the task, the task expectations
and the mark allocation. Students were also provided with stimulus information and prompts
about practical experiences they had undertaken.
One area of concern was the use of old terminology in many assessment tasks. In particular,
the terms ‘interactions’ and ‘perceptions’ were used. It is essential that these words are
replaced with the overarching word of ‘relationships’ (as per the study design) and students
are taught to include ‘perceptions’ and ‘interactions’ when describing the relationship a
particular group has with the environment. It was disappointing that some schools were still
using the old terminology of ‘gold rush to federation’. The use of terminology from the
previous study design should be avoided as this potentially disadvantages students when it
comes to the end-of-year examination. It is expected that students become familiar with the
the terminology used within the key knowledge and key skills.
It was pleasing to see most tasks incorporate the new themes of the first non-Indigenous
settlers’ experiences, increasing population, industrialisation, and nation building. In the
student work reviewed, students were able to effectively link these themes with knowledge
gained from their practical experiences.
Tasks in this outcome could be strengthen by increasing the connection to practical
experiences. For this to happen students must undertake their practical outdoor expereices
prior to compelteing the task and the experience must be related to the outcome. Providing the
students with journal questions for them to repsond to while on the practical experience is a
good way for them to make connection from the practical back to the theoretical assessement.
As mentioned previously, modified VCAA descriptors were the most commonly used
marking scheme. There is only one mandated task for this outcome but teachers are free to
choose to undertake more if they wish. If this choice is made, teachers should be encouraged
to ensure that the weighting of marks is well balanced, depending on the length of the task
and the number of dot points covered. Teachers are reminded that while all dot points (or
parts of dot points) don’t have to be covered in an assessment, it is essential to ensure that
there is good coverage of the dot points and students have the ability to demonstrate the full
extent of their knowledge. The assessment tasks should also demonstrate the level of
difficulty reflected in the outcome statement and the key skills.

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As mentioned previously, marking schemes/descriptors were not always included with the
submitted coursework. It is essential that these marking schemes not only include sufficient
detail, with a clear explanation of marks, but also equitable and consistent mark allocation.
Outcome 2
Analyse and evaluate the factors influencing contemporary societal relationships with outdoor
environments, with reference to specific outdoor experiences.
Task type options


test
data analysis
written analysis and evaluation

For this outcome the most common task types selected were written analysis and evaluation
or tests. Again, they tended to be of a lower quality and were often formatted more as a test
than an analysis and evaluation. As commented on previously, a written analysis and
evaluation must include stimulus of some kind for the student to use in their responses (see
explanation of task types on pages 1 and 2). When designing an assessment task, it is
important that the outcome statement and the key skills are also taken into account and that
instructional words throughout the assessment task match those of the outcome statement and
the key skills.
While there are only two points of key knowledge in this outcome, the second one is lengthy
and most assessments tended to focus on this in their School-assessed Coursework. With this
key knowledge point, including the stem, which focuses on how factors influence
‘contemporary societal relationships with outdoor environments’, is essential when designing
assessment tasks. The different factors listed in this key knowledge should be assessed in
relation to the context of the stem. However, most tasks for this outcome met the
specifications of the study design, were well designed and took into account new factors, such
as ‘social and political discourses’, and the new terminology. It was pleasing to see all tasks
for this outcome making direct links to practical experiences. This is an essential component
of the course as stated in the outcome statement.
Tasks for this outcome could be further improved by having more succinct questions. This
will probably improve as teachers become more familiar with some of the new key
knowledge and key skills that have been included in the new study design.
As with Outcome 1, there was only the one mandated task for this unit. Students at some
schools completed two tasks but these tasks ended up being very similar and tended to assess
the same points of key knowledge and key skills. To avoid this unnecessary duplication,
setting one task is sufficient and, with succinct questioning, good coverage of the dot points
can be achieved.
Modified VCAA performance descriptors were once again the most popular choice of
marking scheme, with the comments for Outcome 1 assessment also applicable to this
outcome. With only one task, all marks for the outcome are used and again teachers should
ensure the allocation of marks is consistent across the task
OVERALL COMMENTS
Most schools have adapted well to the new study design. However, it is essential that all
classroom and School-assessed Coursework tasks are updated to include the new terminology
and key knowledge of the study design. If this does not occur, students will be disadvantaged
at the end-of-year exam. Schools must also ensure that they are using the correct task type as
specified in the study design and that the task type they list matches the task they provide.
This has been a common error of the last few years and it is easily remedied by following the

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mandated tasks in the study design and advice in the assessment guide, both of which are
available from the VCAA website. There has also been an increase in commercially produced
School-assessed Coursework tasks. While this is perfectly acceptable, it is the individual
teacher’s responsibility to ensure that the task selected meets the specifications of the study
design and is modified to ensure students are making specific reference to the practical
experiences undertaken. Teachers who feel they are lacking in the resources necessary to help
them implement the new study design are reminded to check the resources page on the VCAA
website.

UNIT 4
GENERAL COMMENTS
This year the audit process for Unit 4 consisted of an initial teacher survey followed by the
review of further evidence from schools. The further evidence included submitting Schoolassessed Coursework tasks and marking schemes, information about practical outdoor
experiences and in some cases, examples of student work. This report will refer to data
collected from both the teacher surveys as well as observations of the further evidence
collected.
A number of schools had unsatisfactory audit submissions. The reasons for failing to meet
requirements were varied and will be discussed in detail for each outcome. Some schools,
however, were unsatisfactory due to not providing the necessary material. In order for the
review panel to fully understand and be able to pass fair judgment on each school’s
submission it is essential that the material provided for review is well organised, clearly
labelled and that all the requested information is sent.
Linking assessment to outdoor experiences
The survey asked teachers to list their practical experience, and when they were undertaken.
This is to ensure that the timing of the experience/s is appropriate for when the Schoolassessed Coursework is undertaken, to enable students the opportunity to draw on this
experience in their assessment. Teachers should be able to clearly indicate the timing of
outdoor experiences and that of School-assessed Coursework. School-assessed Coursework
should be written in such a way that students can draw on their outdoor experiences and make
specific mention of them in their responses.
Use of commercial products
A number of schools continue to use commercially available School-assessed Coursework
tasks. While this is perfectly acceptable, the individual teacher must ensure that any selected
task meet the assessment specifications in the study design. It should be noted that sometimes
commercial tasks need to be modified to ensure they are relevant to the classroom activities
and practical outdoor experiences undertaken by students. Another concern with using
commercially available School-assessed Coursework tasks is that the same task is used year
after year without modification. It is essential that School-assessed Coursework tasks are
modified each year to avoid authentication issues created by students having access to a
previous year’s School-assessed Coursework task.
TEACHER SURVEY DATA
Teachers completing the survey had four specific areas they had to provide information about,
including:
 assessment planning
 task design
 conditions of assessment
 marking and moderation.

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A number of schools failed to complete the survey, which meant they automatically entered
the next phase of the audit process, where they were required to provide further evidence to
the VCAA for review. In general, schools that submitted answers that were vague, lacking
detail, missing or wrong were asked to submit further evidence. Schools are encouraged to
provide clear and detailed responses to the survey stages of the audit process for both Units 3
and 4. If the survey responses are found to be satisfactory, then the school may not have to
complete further stages.
Assessment planning questions ask schools to list the task types they have used for their
assessments and whether or not students have to all complete the same task. This helps give
the reviewers some background information on the tasks used and quickly identifies schools
using task types that are not consistent with the study design.
The task design includes a question asking whether the task has been used before in previous
years. Given that it is the first year of the current study design, all tasks from previous years
should have been altered to meet the new study design. If schools answered ‘Yes’, or ‘Yes,
with modifications’, they should have provided information on how they maintained the
authenticity of the task. As per the data in Table 1, most schools designed new assessment
tasks.
Table 1: Is any task, or part of a task, being re-used from previous years?
0.0%

Yes

Yes, with modifications

38.5%

No

61.5%

Teachers were also asked at this stage what environment they visited for their practical
outdoor experiences for each outcome.
Conditions of assessment looked at the length of the task, how much of the task was
completed in class time and the timing of the task in relation to the practical outdoor
experiences undertaken. As shown in Table 2, most schools allocate one to two hours to
complete assessment tasks.
Table 2: What is the approximate time scheduled for each of the assessment tasks?
Less
than
1 hour

1–2
hours

2–3
hours

More
than
3 hours

Not
applicable

Outcome 1 Task 1

7.7%

46.2%

30.8%

15.4%

0.0%

Outcome 1 Task 2

0.0%

23.1%

0.0%

0.0%

76.9%

Outcome 2 Task 1

7.7%

69.2%

15.4%

7.7%

0.0%

Outcome 2 Task 2

7.7%

53.8%

23.1%

7.7%

7.7%

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The study design specifies that at least one task must be used for Outcome 1 and two tasks
used for Outcome 2 from a select list of tasks for each Outcome. It is up to the schools
discretion as to whether or not they can adequately cover Outcome 1 in the one task. The
majority of schools (75 per cent) only use one task for Outcome 1. The majority of schools
completed all or nearly all of their tasks in class time, which enabled them to appropriately
authenticate students’ work.
Marking and Moderation questions asked about the type of marking scheme schools used
and how results were moderated, if there was more than one class of the subject being taught
in the school. The majority of schools use the VCAA marking descriptors or a modification of
them for their marking. As is common with the subject, just under 85 per cent of schools
stated that they were the only teacher of the subject in the school. However it was pleasing to
see a number of schools working with nearby schools to cross-mark and develop tasks.
The VCAA also asks for feedback at the end of the survey. This feedback is valuable for the
VCAA and constructive comments are always welcomed. Most schools reported that the
survey was easy to complete, while some schools found it difficult due to assessment not
being fully planned at that point in time. The majority of schools commented that it was a
worthwhile process to go through because it helped clarify their planning and assist in the
development of tasks.
SPECIFIC INFORMATION
Unit 4 Outcome 1
Outcome 1

40 marks

Evaluate the contemporary state of Australian
outdoor environments, and analyse the
importance of healthy outdoor environments
and sustainability for individuals and society,
with reference to specific outdoor experiences.

At least one task from the
following:
• a case study
• data analysis
• a multimedia presentation
• written analysis and
evaluation
• an oral presentation.

Outcome 1 was general well addressed, with many of the tasks presented linking the dot
points together in either a written analysis and evaluation or a case study (see Unit 3
Assessment Report for an explanation of these tasks). A common problem with these task
types is insufficient stimulus material being presented to students to analyse and evaluate or
study. For these tasks to meet the requirements they must make reference to stimulus of some
description. The amount of stimulus material given to students should be in proportion to the
length of the task. For example some schools provided 10 pages of material to be used in a
task taking from one to two hours, this would seem somewhat excessive as it would not allow
students time to adequately read and interpret the stimulus within the context of the task.
The written analysis and evaluation was most problematic for schools with many tasks
submitted not matching the label they were given. For a written analysis and evaluation to be
carried out accurately, students must be given the opportunity to analyse and evaluate the
stimulus material provided. For example, this outcome looks at the contemporary state of the
environment, indicators of this, the importance of a healthy environment and current threats to
it. Students could be asked to use an environment they have just visited, with the use of some
stimulus about that environment and their recent experience within it, students could be asked
to evaluate the state of that environment and analyse the importance of that environment for
individuals and society. Short answer questions really have no place in a written analysis and
evaluation. The instructional words used in writing the task must include ‘analyse’ and

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‘evaluate’. It is essential that schools look at the key skills as well as the key knowledge in the
designing of the task and ensure these are being met.
Many tasks had limited coverage on the critiques of sustainability. While it is acceptable not
to include every dot point in the assessed task, it is essential that students still have a good
understanding of this.
Assessment
As mentioned in the survey data, tasks were mainly assessed by using the suggested VCAA
performance descriptors or a modification of these. Of concern were a few submissions
whose marking schemes were very brief and non-specific. It is essential that marking schemes
are well thought out and that the scaling of marks for each question is clearly shown.
The study design only specified one task for this outcome. It is the school’s prerogative
whether they choose to use a second task. If they do use a second task, it still must come from
the specified list in the study design. Schools must ensure that the weighting of the task is
appropriate for the length of the task and the number of dot points covered. They must also
ensure that it is in line with the marks allocated by the VCAA. In general most tasks were
well weighted and questions scored adequately.
Unit 4 Outcome 2
Outcome 2

60 marks

Analyse conflicts of interest over the use of
outdoor environments, and evaluate practices
and strategies for sustaining outdoor
environments, with reference to specific
outdoor experiences.

At least two tasks from the
following:
• a case study
• a test
• data analysis
• written analysis and
evaluation.

Tasks selected for this outcome were generally a case study and a test. Using a test at this
stage of the year is great prepation for the end of year exam. The dot points around
environmental conflict were generally well addressed in the form of a case study and these
tasks were mostly satisfactory. New to this area of study is the role of the Victorian
Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC). It was disappointing to see not all tasks viewed
made reference to the decision-making process used. It is also pertinent to remember at this
stage that police action is not a method used by groups to influence decision-making. The
police are a neutral body whose job is to uphold the law and protect the well-being of people.
They do not influence decision-makers. As mentioned earlier, case studies must have strong
stimulus material for the students to draw from.
The new study design identifies specific content in Outcome 2 in terms of the conflicts,
management strategies and polices, acts and conventions and actions undertaken to sustain
healthy environments to study. It is essential that these are covered in School-assessed
Coursework in preparation for further assessment in the end-of-year exam.
As seen in previous years, management strategies and policies along with acts and
conventions are not as well covered in assessment in the first half of the outcome. It was
disappointing to see some schools have poor coverage of this outcome, often both assessment
tasks assessed the same points of key knowledge relating to conflicts. Content covered in the
first task should not be repeated in the second. It was also concerning to see some schools
confuse personal minimal impact practices with management strategies and policies. Personal
minimal impact is covered in Unit 1, Outcome 1.
The language and wording of some tasks was disappointing. Some tasks were very poorly
worded with vague questions that could have had a wide variety of answers, not necessarily

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from the study design. As a result, there was often poor coverage of this outcome. It is
essential that the wording of questions is succinct and that the instructional words match those
of the key skills within the study design.
Satisfactory assessments for this outcome would include, for example, one task covering the
first three dot points that relate to conflict over the use of the environment. A case study
works particularly well for these dot points as they are interconnected, and strong stimulus
material can be provided. A test is a good way to assess the remainder of the outcome as this
allows for a variety of topics to be covered and gives appropriate examination practise for
students. The questions in the test, as already mentioned, must be clearly worded and contain
the correct instruction word for the key skill being assessed.
Assessment
As for Outcome 1, assessment for these tasks predominately used the VCAA descriptors or
modifications of these. Again it is essential that marking schemes are well laid out and
contain sufficient detail so that marking is straightforward and students can clearly see what
areas they need to improve on.
The study design specified two tasks for this outcome. Schools need to ensure the tasks are
weighted according to the length of task and dot points covered.
OVERALL COMMENTS
The implementation of this new audit process has enabled more schools to be audited each
year. This will hopefully encourage schools to ensure they are following the Study Design
closely and therefore giving their students the best possible chance of success in the end-ofyear exam. It is disappointing that a large number of schools were identified as not meeting
the requirements of the audit process. There are a variety of reasons for this. Some are as
simple as schools not completing the survey or not providing the material that is requested by
the VCAA. It is essential that schools participate in the audit process fully in order for proper
and fair judgment to be made.
It was pleasing to see some fantastic tasks submitted by some schools. All schools should be
encouraged to take time to look at their current tasks to ensure that they meet with the Study
Design specifications and whether any improvement can be made. Schools should remember
that they are able to contact the VCAA for advice if needed and should be using the
publications and resources available on the VCAA website for guidance.

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