Achievement at scholarship level is a product of a culture of excellence and high expectations. The Visual Arts scholarship examination celebrates higher order thinking and risk taking. The students in our department have received 8 scholarships over the last 2 years in Design and Photography and all level 3 students have expressed strong interest in attempting the examination. 

We decided to collaborate on an inquiry into scholarship over the next two years for the following reasons:
1. Scholarship is a complex assessment system and we felt three brains are better than one.
2. We recognized that we all had different strengths and should pool our skills in order to decode the assessment resources.
3. There was strong data to suggest many more of our students were capable of achieving scholarship
4. There was also data which suggested some students were severally under performing in scholarship. As the students are willing to put in the effort we should try to refine our facilitation in order to make the assessment more accessible to them. 
5. We felt a collaborative inquiry would be more engaging and would allow us to practice the collaborative skills we hope to instill in students. 
6. We felt that a greater understanding of scholarship would allow us to de-code the hidden values of assessments at other levels. 

Initial Scoping Data

In 2014 we had 22 students attempt scholarship in 4 Visual Art fields. Four students achieved scholarship, to achieve a 19% pass rate out of those who attempted it. Three students were within 3 grades of attaining scholarship, five students where within 4 grades of achieving and 10 were well off the mark, achieving below 8 out of 24. Of the students who achieved scholarship only 1 was well over the pass mark (4.5%). The percentage of students who only just achieved was 13.6% (3 students achieving 13 or 14 out of 24) The average overall grade was 8.3 out of 24. The average for those who achieved scholarship 14.25. 18 students didn't achieve; 81%

Our pass rate for scholarship is 19%. The national average is 3%. 

Summary of Data
4x Students achieved Scholarship
3x of those 'just' passed with either 13 or 14 points
1x of those was well over the pass mark
3x students were within 3 points of passing
5x Students were within 4 points of passing 
10x Students were well off the pass mark
The average grade was 8.3 out of 24
5x students who received an excellence for the external achieved less than 5 points

We set an achievable goal of increasing the scholarship pass rate by 3 students over the next two years. We hope to support 6-8 students attain scholarship by 2016.


The department needs to focus on several areas in order to increase scholarship results:

Knowledge Pooling and Development

The staff need to gather and share their knowledge of scholarship so that weaknesses and strengths can be acknowledged. Once this is done professional development can be delivered to target areas.

Analysing Exemplars and Resources

Teachers need to thoroughly analyse the NZQA exemplars and available resources. The data from this analysis will then be compared to previous years work. From this comparison we can ascertain what we need to focus on.

Student Understanding

The students do not understand the scholarship process and what is being marked. The inquiry will help to develop understanding of Visual Art scholarship amongst the students.

Developing Resources

Each teacher will focus on one of the descriptors and develop resources to help students understand the assessment. There are 3 descriptors from which scholarship is marked.

1.Analysis: Sarah Raggett

2.Synthesis: Tim Thatcher

                  3. Communication: Nic Whistler

The Inquiry

The inquiry will be done in three stages: Teacher research, student survey’s and a reflection. This inquiry will be a 2 year project with significant gains been made in the second year.

Teacher Research

Each teacher is to review the exemplars and resources, focusing on their particular area. The intent is to make clear links between the assessment schedule and student work. The knowledge will then be disseminated in the following ways;

    • Shared with the department staff through a 1 hour presentation
    • Shared with students through a video tutorial in which the descriptor is explained in relation to exemplars.
    • The development of other relevant resources to help students and teachers including the suggestions of how the applicable skills may be developed in the junior school.

Student Survey

Students will be surveyed 3x times throughout the year at crucial stages and upon completion of the assessment. A selected group of students will be monitored and data will be gathered on the following:

    • Understanding of scholarship requirements
    • Usefulness of department resources
    • Time management and delivery of content

Reflection and Analysis of Data

Upon the release of the 2015 scholarship results staff will analyse the submissions grades to ascertain successes and shortcomings. This data will then be used to refine the programme for 2016.



Time to be completed

Finalising Inquiry Proposal

Week 10 Term 1

Teachers presenting research findings to each other

Week 4 Term 2

Student Survey: Understanding of scholarship requirements (TC)

Week 5 Term 2

Teacher develop video tutorials and present to students

Week 10 Term 3

Student Survey: Usefulness of department resources

Week 2 Term 3

Student Survey: Time management and content delivery

Week 9 Term 3

Data analysis and goal setting

Term 1 2016

We developed the resources and presented to the students at the suggested times. We also added all resources to the department website and included several other features such as a forum and planners in case students should find these useful.
 In order to make the assessment criteria really explicit each teacher made a video of the presentation and an accompanying cheat sheet. Student exemplars were also provided in the shared drive. These are shown in the video below
Scholarship Site Tour

scholarship site

The end of year results will indicate whether our interventions have encouraged a culture of excellence and increased student engagement. Student voice is also important so we surveyed the scholarship students to gauge what impact our interventions had on their learning. 
Student Voice Survey
 42.9% of students felt the website was a useful resource in helping them understand scholarship. However just over 28% found it slightly useful. Other results suggested many students preferred face to face time with their teachers.

"The powerpoint was useful and the way the teachers went into further detail in their presentation and helped me to really understand what is needed to be done."

This question indicates whether the teachers are encouraging a culture of excellence within the department and whether students feel as though they are been encouraged to attempt scholarship.
43% of students felt supported by their teachers to achieve scholarship. 

Several students suggested "More exemplars of work and more teacher presentations" would be valuable.

The survey strongly suggested that students would simply like more time to work on their scholarship pages. Teachers observed that students can work on their pages at anytime but it seems they would like more workshops to be held. 
Staff Responses
Each staff member completed a Google Form so that we could collate our responses to the initiative.

What has been the most interesting thing about the inquiry for you?

1. It is marked on three distinct aspects and through this inquiry I have a better understanding on what those three aspects are.
2. It encourages you to read the extracts from candidates to gain insight into their own approach. In most cases the themes or ideas stem from real experiences (personal context). This highlights the question " why have you chosen this theme, concept or idea)

1. That a criteria and marking schedule existed and it's broken into 3 sections and making time to understand it. 2. Finding examples of 'what synthesis looks like' for students. 3. The patterns created from trying to tracking girls progress. 4. The positive feedback from students about everyones presentations. 5. It's been positive to make a practical resources that students can use in the future. 6. The most interesting thing will be the final results, to see if we can as a dept get over the 4 mark. Was it worth it?

The process of edit, refine and expanding ideas was very useful. I wasn't really aware that this process needed to be so explicit in scholarship

What do you think needs to be refined for next years Scholarship programme?

1. Students have a better understanding that every conversation, brainstorm, pin etc is part of their scholarship research. It needs to be recorded and organised in either written or digital form. 2. It's an on going process that involves experimentation. 3. Weekly informal Schol (morning - I really related to the before school idea from the workshop) meetings where students are encouraged to discuss pathways, artist models etc, right from the beginning/establish a culture.

I think the students need more regular times slots/workshops to actually work on their scholarship pages. Student lead discussions/ tasks/ brainstorming/ questioning each other etc. As we know they are very busy, maybe earlier on in the year when the pressure is off.

More workshops earlier on. More one on one time with other teachers. Emphasising that scholarship is done alongside the folio not seperate. 

The inquiry into improving Scholarship results has made me feel more confident about what is required.
Sarah : Yes
Nic: Yes
Me: Yes

Learning about scholarship requirements has made me reconsider how I teach my other art classes.
Sarah: Yes
Nic: Yes
Me: Yes