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Advice for teachers -
Agricultural and Horticultural Studies

Unit 4 – Sample approach to developing an assessment task

Outcome 1

Analyse the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on food and fibre production, evaluate strategies for environmental protection and rehabilitation, and discuss techniques for monitoring the sustainability of agricultural and/or horticultural practices.  

Assessment task: short written report (research inquiry)

Research question: Choose a water quality issue and research its impact on food and fibre production in Australia.

Planning the assessment task

  1. The VCE Agricultural and Horticultural Studies Study Design provides details of the key knowledge and key skills related to Unit 4 Area of Study 1: Sustainable land management.
  2. Assessment task options are listed in the study design. In this example, students will conduct a research inquiry and create a short written report. Where a choice of tasks is offered, they must be comparable in scope and demand.
  3. Identify the qualities and characteristics that you are looking for in a student response and design the criteria and a marking scheme. The performance descriptors (included in this Advice for teachers) for each outcome identify the qualities or characteristics that need to be identified in a student response.
  4. Identify the nature and sequence of teaching and learning activities. In this example, students are required to research one of the prescribed water quality issues and its relationship with, and impact on, food and fibre production and present their findings in a short written report.
  5. Teach relevant key knowledge and key skills so students are able to:
    • identify types of environmental degradation and propose action for prevention and control
    • justify techniques of environmental control and modification in agriculture and/or horticulture and evaluate the sustainability of these techniques.

Designing the assessment task

This task requires students to undertake a research inquiry and present it as a short written report. The teacher needs to format the task in such a way that it allows students to demonstrate the highest level of performance and the qualities and characteristics that define this.

  1. The teacher should develop an assessment task that allows students to:
    • choose one of the following water quality issues
      • levels of nitrogen, phosphorus or dissolved oxygen
      • acidity or alkalinity (pH)
      • electrical conductivity (EC)
      • turbidity.
    • discuss the selected water quality issue and thresholds for adverse impacts
    • explain the potential impacts on food and fibre production, as well as on biodiversity and the wider environment
    • explain the underlying causes of the water quality issue
    • discuss methods for detecting and monitoring the water quality issue
    • discuss techniques for managing the water quality issue and for preventing environmental degradation due to the issue are identified and their relative efficacy
    • discuss the principles of sustainable land management
    • explain how their focus on water quality issue relates to sustainable land management.
  2. Decide the most appropriate time to set the task. In this example, students are given two 50-minute sessions to conduct their research into their chosen water quality issue.
  3. Brief students to prepare them for assessment. Give them the criteria for the assessment task when they begin researching their chosen issue. Direct them to document their research in either a physical notebook or a digital equivalent such as MS Word or OneNote.
  4. Provde feedback to the students in accordance with the criteria in the marking scheme.