National Moderator's Reports

Feb 2020

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Download PDF: Psychology National Moderator's Report (PDF, 142KB)

The following report gives feedback to assist assessors with general issues and trends that have been identified during external moderation of the internal Psychology standards in 2019.

It does not clarify specific standards but provides further insights from moderation material viewed throughout the year.


Awarding Excellence

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When making judgement for Excellence, it needs to be ensured that all indicators of the Excellence criteria in the standard have been fully addressed. These are outlined in the Explanatory notes. The quality of evidence provided should also reflect the curriculum level.  If the evidence demonstrates that the Excellence criteria have been only partially met, then the grade awarded cannot be Excellence. This is critical in distinguishing between high Merit and Excellence.

Consideration also needs to be given to the overall submission, such as succinctness and clarity.


Collecting evidence

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Opportunities that allow students to collect evidence through different modes such as blogs, video clips, etc is encouraged. It allows students to have agency on how best to demonstrate what they know. 

Group work is an acceptable form of assessment, if appropriate to the standard.

It is important when assessing group work, which may be likely in standards such as 91874 where students may develop a procedure and collect data together, that the assessor is able to clearly identify work that has been completed independently from the other members of the group. The assessment could be designed as an initial group proposal and data collection, followed by an independent lab report of the independent research.

The contribution of each student can be tracked and presented in a variety of ways, such as written record of teacher observation, the division of workload into clearly defined tasks, a student worklog or video diary, and/or recordings of teacher/student conferences.


Student wellbeing

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Where students are guided in how to present their evidence succinctly, the quality of their responses improves. When students are aware of the concept that quantity is not an indicator of quality, this also helps to reduce workload pressures.

In terms of student wellbeing, it is also timely to consider the importance of positive contexts and guidance regarding potentially ‘dark themes’ or inappropriate material. While the need for self-expression and realism is not disputed, the mental and physical wellbeing of students in their learning and assessment should be a significant consideration in programmes.

Where assessments have been designed with a clear structure that is linked to the criteria of the standard, students’ work is more concise and tied to the proposed assessment outcomes. Checkpoints during completion of the assessed work allow teacher feedback to ensure that students understand the appropriate quantity and depth of response that is required for the level of the achievement standard.

Careful consideration of the content that is being covered within the psychology standards offered should be made. Communication with the school’s pastoral care team regarding topics that will be covered may help identify any possible areas of concern. 

When assessment involves many of the deterministic theories covered within psychology, limitations in these theories and their reductionist nature can be highlighted. This is important when considering how these theories may directly or indirectly relate to the experiences of the student. (For example, genetic theories for many psychological disorders, and the concerns this may raise for students with family members suffering from such disorders.)

Assessor Support

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The Best Practice Workshops (online and face-to-face) offered by the Assessment and Moderation Team continue to be viewed by the sector as significantly contributing to improved assessor practice:

"The workshop helped to review my own knowledge, and great to share ideas."

"It was great having time to challenge my thinking in assessment."

Based on the success of the ‘on request’ model and the ability to have targeted support, the Assessment and Moderation Team will continue delivering this support model in 2020. Workshops or presentation slots can be requested to provide targeted support to regional or national audiences.

Additionally, we will continue to run the generic Transforming Assessment Praxis Programme, an online programme which helps assessors learn about re-contextualising assessment resources and collecting evidence in different ways to better meet the needs of their learners.

More detailed information, including how to request or register for a workshop, can be found on our Best Practice Workshop pages or by emailing


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Outcome statements in external moderation reports

In 2017, moderation report outcome statements changed from ‘Confidence’ statements to ‘Consistency’ statements, as explained in an NZQA Circular at the time.

The previous FOUR ‘Confidence’ statements were changed to THREE Consistency statements. This reduction in the number of categories of statement has, in some cases, resulted in moderation report outcomes previously noted as ‘Confident’ now being noted as ‘Not Yet Consistent’.

It is important to recognise that ‘Not Yet Consistent’ does not imply major issues on the part of the assessor, but that the aspects highlighted can be easily addressed through the advice given in the report.

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