EXTENDED RESPONSE TASKS

Some ideas for Year 11 and 12 Biology students for ERTs

From Dr Richard Walding, FAIP, FRACI, CChem, Griffith University, Australia
Author New Century Senior Physics textbook by Oxford University Press.
Email: r.walding@griffith.edu
.au

 

An Extended Response Task (ERT) is an assessment instrument that requires you to respond to a "science question, statement, circumstance or issue". It is essentially non-experimental, but will require research and use of secondary (someone else's) data - although you may have to draw on primary (your own) experimental data. This webpage concerns completing an Extended Response Task in Queensland (Australia) Senior Biology in the persuasive exposition genre. It refers to criteria and task types from the syllabuses produced by the Queensland Studies Authority but is not meant to imply that the QSA endorses any of the comments. It is a personal opinion.

Some of the ERT topics that follow have been suggested by the Senior Biology teachers at Tully SHS and Innisfail State College, Queensland, Australia. My thanks to Darrin Timms, HoD Land and Sea Science, Innisfail State College, 45 Flying Fish Point Road, Innisfail Qld 4860 Australia.


 

EEIs in Biology - examples and hints for Extended Experimental Investigations (webpage)

Go to the Senior Chemistry Webpage

Go to the Senior Physics Webpage

Biology Teachers  EdQ Discussion List - Subscribe or view the Archives.


TECHNIQUES FOR PREPARING A ERT



Bioethics topics

The list below is a mixture of Research Questions (RQ) and Thesis statements (T).

An ERT can be created from this list by stating a Topic/Focus (F), providing a Stimulus or Scenario, and generating a Research Question and a Thesis. Viz:

Topic (Focus): Human Impact (Teacher given = closed; student generated = open).

Stimulus: Cassowaries are rainforest birds and, in Australia, as the rainforests shrank so did the cassowary population. Now there are only about 1500 left in the wild, 150 of them in the Daintree National Park (DNA data from the birds' dung was used to gain an accurate estimate of population size). This poses a problem for the forest because the cassowaries play a crucial role in distributing the seeds of many of the trees. The Queensland Government has planned to tag and release cassowaries to get a better indication of their range, habitat and breeding characteristics, but many people believe that such interference will make the population decline even faster. (Stimulus given by teacher).

Research Question: Should we tag and release cassowaries to calculate their habitat range? (Teacher given = closed; student generated = open).

Thesis: Tagging and releasing cassowaries is better than other methods of measuring their range, habitat and breeding rates. (Teacher given = closed; student generated = open).


Click here to download the following list. Courtesy of Darrin Timms.

Research Questions (RQ)

Thesis statements (T)

Focus or Topic Areas (F)

Some Bioethical scenarios (stimulus) 

In the same way, an ERT can be created by providing a Stimulus/Scenario (as in the list provided by Darrin Timms, below) and stating a Topic/Focus (F), and generating a Research Question (RQ) and a Thesis (T). Viz:

Topic: Biotechnology (Teacher given = closed; student generated = open).

Stimulus: When Marilyn Lewis, a young healthy pregnant woman is asked to give a blood sample as part of a study to determine what part of the population carries a gene for cystic fibrosis (CF) she agrees. After all there is no known person who has CF in her family. To her surprise the test is positive. Marilyn's husband Bob is then tested. He too tests positive for the gene carrying CF meaning they have a one in four chance of having a child with CF. Medical practitioners are advocating that all embryos are tested and if positive the embryo treated with pig stem cells to solve the problem.  (Teacher given).

Research Question: Should all embryos be tested for CF and if positive be treated with pig stem cells?  (Teacher given = closed; student generated = open).

Thesis: All embryos should be tested for CF and if positive be treated with pig stem cells.  (Teacher given = closed; student generated = open).

Some more Bioethical scenarios (stimulus statements)


CHANGING THE DEGREE OF OPENNESS OF INQUIRY (NON-EXPERIMENTAL)

The degree of openness of an ERT inquiry can be varied by changing the parameters of the task. The following table shows how this can be achieved. It does not necessarily mean that the complexity or challenge of the task increases with increasing open-ness, just the control the student has over the process. Level "0" Openness (verification) can apply equally to inquiry tasks or "closed" non-inquiry problems usually found on Supervised Assessments where the data is given and there is a "correct" answer; eg: A grasshopper zygote has 30 chromosomes. How many chromosomes are in a grasshopper muscle cell?  In Senior Biology ERTs students are most likely to be dealing with Level 2a Openness and above.
 

Change in Openness
Openness Level
Focus
Research Question
Thesis
Outcome
Common Name
Closed
0
Given
Given
Given
Closed
Verification
-
1
Given
Given
Given
Open
Guided Inquiry
2a
Given
Given
Open
Open
Open Guided Inquiry
-
2b
Given
Open
Open
Open
Open Guided Inquiry
Open
3
Open
Open
Open
Open
Open Inquiry

The following ERT has been adapted from one supplied by Darrin Timms. Click here to download a copy.