Science Inquiry Assessment

The challenge

This research was contracted by the Victorian Department of Education to refine an approach to Science Inquiry Assessment for primary schools and to validate the assessment tools. Science is often under-represented in schools’ enactment of the curriculum and there is limited understanding of the science inquiry practices that are an important part of the science curriculum. The research team worked with schools to refine tasks that support teachers to understand and engage with assessing student inquiry practices such as developing questions, planning investigations, analysing data, and communicating findings.

Project overview

The research team worked with science specialists, then with two schools across grade levels F-6, using a Design Based Research methodology to redesign, test and refine a set of tasks that were engaging for students, supportive of teachers’ understandings of inquiry skills, and enabled a valid assessment process. The team refined the tasks to be practical and engaging, with teacher support materials including pedagogical advice, clarified rubrics and student work samples. This resulted in validated tasks made available to all teachers across Victoria.


Teachers and students were highly engaged with the tasks and over the trial period developed the capacity to focus on these inquiry practices in a way that enabled assessment of students in an authentic and engaging setting. The project has produced 14 refined tasks, two at each of the F-6 levels, and these are available on a project website

The project has demonstrated the lack of a culture of focusing on science inquiry practices in primary schools, but the possibility, given school commitments, of teachers engaging students in productive inquiry activities that progressively develop students’ engagement with scientific practices.

Example of a Level 1 task.

Project team

Associate Professor Peta White

Professor Russell Tytler

Shefali Sharma-Wallis


Victorian Department of Education



2021 – 2022

More information


science inquiry pedagogy, inquiry skills, primary school science curriculum