ncea 3.1 guide

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  • NCEA 3.1 Plan and carry out independent

    historical research







    Task One: Identify and define an area for

    historical research


    Not Achieved Minimum standards not met this time

    Achieved (See excellence)

    Merit (See excellence)

    Excellence Identify and define an area for historical research

    (e.g. This investigation will examine Operation Barbarossa 1941.. It will aim to discover the strategic objectives of this campaign, and its impact on the respective war efforts of Germany and Russia.) Exemplar 3/1- C Version 2

    Identify = give title to the chapter in the childrens book to

    Define = explain the aims/focus of the inquiry.


    The first step in any research is to identify an individual/group, problem, topic,

    issue, situation, or event from the past that needs to be investigated (for example

    Hitler, Gallipoli, Apartheid). In this case the WWII film you choose will direct your


    Defining an area of inquiry could involve stating the overall aim of the inquiry


    Choose a film and topic that is manageable and interesting enough to hold your

    enthusiasm long enough to complete the project and the 3.2.

    Consider something you have watched and enjoy, especially from Level Two. For

    example, many of you would have watched Schindlers List last year. This might be a

    good choice if you enjoyed it and remembered much of what you learnt about the

    Holocaust. Familiarity with the topic will make formulating focussing questions and

    gathering information much easier.

    Watch the film closely. Take notes on what the main issue is. You must be able to

    analyse the film's historical accuracy for 3.2 so make sure you plan a topic that

    closely relates to the film.

    Do some background reading in an area you are interested in to see if your topic is


    It is a good idea to start with general sources (e.g. text, encyclopaedia).



    Note down the main themes, differing interpretations or controversial issues you

    find. This may help you design your question(s) and realise if your study is adding

    anything new to the history on your topic. If the focus of your topic has been

    extensively researched in the past you may wish to change the focus, or approach it

    from a new angle, or test your own theory.

    Usually you start with an idea, then narrow it down.

    example: Theme : origins of WW2

    Issue : cause

    Then you narrow this down further

    example: Hitler as a cause of WW2

    YOU MIGHT DECIDE TO FORM A HYPOTHESIS (as a title for your chapter)

    i.e. something you wish to test / answer / solve

    example: Hypothesis: That Hitler was the main cause of WW2


    See if you can identify the topic for the following Historical movies. Then use two to

    three sentences to define a relevant area of research


    Michael Collins


    Heavenly Creatures



    Formulating Focus Questions


    Not Achieved Minimum standards not met this time

    Achieved Relevant focus questions

    Two relevant focussing questions (more may be provided) (e.g. What did Hitler want to achieve by invading Russia in 1941? How did this campaign affect Germany and Russia?) Exemplar 3/1- C Version 2 (i.e. questions tend to be of the descriptive type - what)

    Merit Relevant and significant focus questions

    Two relevant and significant focussing questions (more may be provided) (e.g. What were Hitlers strategic objectives in invading Russia in

    1941? How did the failure of this campaign affect Germanys war effort?) [ibid] (i.e. questions tend to be of the analytical type why/how etc. and

    more focussed on information required)

    Excellence Significant and perceptive focus questions

    Two significant and perceptive focussing questions (more may be provided) (e.g. How would invading Russia advance Hitlers desire for European

    hegemony? To what extent did the failure of this campaign change the strategic balance of the war?) [ibid] (i.e. questions tend to be more of the evaluative type To what

    extent / how significant / etc. and require higher level of argument to



    (i) Significant questions would scope the topic i.e. allow you to gather enough information for a balanced coverage of the different parts of topic. The questions as

    a group should allow for depth (details) and cover the historical settings (time and


    (ii) Perceptive questions would demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the nature of the inquiry you are undertaking, permitting research in greater breadth and/or depth than most questions would allow. Such questions would show you understand the critical underpinnings the ability to establish the primary focus (main aim) of your

    inquiry and its related issues/factors/questions/problems.

    (i.e. in general these are more likely to be analytical and/or evaluative style questions)



    You should aim for 4 or 5 questions that include a variety of questions from these levels: (i)

    describe, (ii) analyse, and (iii) evaluate; with at least one evaluative question something to

    do with the significance of your topic to history.


    To write good focus questions you need to have some idea about the topic you are

    going to do. It is important therefore to DO AT LEAST SOME LIGHT


    Questions are formed to give focus to your investigation (called focus questions).

    These should be 'open' questions (i.e. requiring more than a yes/no answer for


    For example:

    - How did Hitler come to power in Germany?

    - Why did the Anzacs attack Gallipoli?

    - In what ways did South Africa's policy of Apartheid effect relations with

    New Zealand?

    A good focus question will contain relevant name(s), date(s), event(s) and/or place(s)

    as well as the focus (aim) of your enquiry.

    The questions should dictate your approach not the resources you find.

    Double and triple barrelled questions are NOT appropriate. i.e. do not use questions like:

    How and why did Hitler come to power? should be separated into two questions: How did

    Hitler come to power? and Why did Hitler come to power? Questions must be open in

    order to direct you to sufficient (enough) information.

    At Level One you were given between one and four focus questions to investigate and


    If the assignment was about an event/issue/crisis then the focus questions may have


    - What caused the crisis (or event) to develop?

    - What happened during the crisis (or event)?

    - What were differing perspectives/responses to the crisis (or event)?

    i.e. CAUSES, EVENTS, RESULTS very commonly used as the basis for focus questions


    OR if the assignment is about a person:

    - What actions did [INSERT] take which made him/her famous/infamous? - Why did [INSERT] take these actions? - What different views were, or are, held about [INSERT]s actions?



    In general questions are likely to be one of the following types:

    (i) Describe/List/What/Outline - want you to provide factual details based on

    evidence e.g. How something is supposed to work (e.g. means of finance)

    (ii) Analyse /Discuss/How/Account for/ Explain why - want you to give reasons based

    on evidence e.g. Explain problems OR Explain solutions attempted

    (iii) Evaluate /To what extent/Why/How far/How significant - want you to make a

    decision based on evidence. e.g. The significance of the problem OR The success in

    dealing with the problems

    NOTE: You may wish to MODIFY THE FOCUSSING QUESTIONS in the light of

    subsequent research. This will be permitted, though by the given date, and the modified

    questions must be discussed and confirmed with your teacher. Judgement of selection of

    evidence should be based on the modified questions.

    The following are some guidelines on how to construct focus questions.

    Keep in mind the purpose of your Special Study. What do you (or the question) want to show?

    Good Focus Questions

    1. Will be about people, places, perspectives, events, issues

    2. May use What/Why/How in the question (Contain levels of difficulty: Describe =>

    analyse => evaluate)

    3. Might consider views/reasons, actions/reasons, results of actions/impact

    4. Might cover: causes, events/actions, results

    5. Are able to be answered (i.e. not too hard)

    6. Sources must be available for you to gather information from

    7. Must generate historical ideas (for AS3.2)

    8. Set parameters (country/era)

    9. Use simple wording

    10. Scope/cover the topic and the aims of the research (what do you want to know)

    Some starter questions to help you could be:

    What happened?

    How did it happen?

    Why did it happen?

    What would happen if ... ?

    What guess can we make about?

    What are we likely to see when ...?

    How can we explain ... ?

    What is the main cause/reason/issue