Improve your assessment practices

The focus is on testing knowledge, understanding, and possible individual transformation around notions of climate change in terms of complex interactions, how energy is used and transformed by humans and other processes.


  • Conduct basic – factual recall, remembering type assessments related to Energy Resource Use and Change.

  • Exploring ways to conduct deeper / higher-order types of assessments (analysis, evaluating and creating) related to Energy Resource Use and Change

Strategies to improve assessment practices

Learners could be asked to draw and construct diagrams showing where and how these atmospheric pressures are located on the globe and what they produce e.g. high pressure usually produces or is associated with dry, sinking air.
Another key element in the exercises and subsequent assessment is to ensure that learners can show why such phenomena occur, where they occur and what can be done about their impacts. The various systems can then be expanded by examining HOW they may change in future given climate change.
To test such knowledge one can ask learners to answer factual recall questions on climate systems; one can also give them graphics of a low pressure and high pressure system and ask them to label and explain how they move and distribute energy or one can give them a specific situation e.g. a ‘drought’ case and ask them what pressure system is usually associated with such weather or climate.
The marks assigned for these assessments will vary but again marks should be given for the accurate understanding shown of how the phenomenon develops, together with where and what can be done to best live with or adapt to the event/outcomes of the phenomena.

  • the role of people as actors in the climate system (population interactions, movement both as a cause and consequence of climate change – the impact of climate change could be population migration and greater pressure on resources) (GRADE 10, term 3);
  • why do some people and groups use more and others relatively less of the global energy bundle? And the resultant impacts of this unbalanced energy use (GRADE 10, term 3, development geography);
  • hazards – droughts and floods (GRADE 11, term 1) – how does the atmosphere respond to changes in energy flows? (atmosphere’s expression of imbalances).
  • resource and sustainability – energy use – conventional and non-conventional energy flows (GRADE 11, term 4).
  • In this section, the skills required include more interpretative skills, being able to read, understand and make the links between climate change and variability on the one hand to a range of human drivers on the other. The ways in which energy moves in the system and is used and/or abused need to be foregrounded and understood.
    Moving to some of the technical responses to energy movements in the systems the following assessments can be used.

Shallow assessments in this section would be assessing some of the basic factual knowledge of different energy uses and how these energy systems operate in the world. Various energy types e.g. renewable and non-renewable could be assessed as well as examining which countries produce the most greenhouse gases. Here the assessment would be examining recall and remembering, important skills, but not the only skills required. Examples of some of the types of tests and exam assessment can be obtained from the relevant Department of Education. These assessments examine some basic remembering and analysis but one notes the assessment is lighter on the higher-order skills e.g. creating.

Assessment in this section can be very interesting both for the learner and the teacher. One is trying in the assessment of resource use (e.g. energy) to probe values, issues such as ethics and other deeper dimensions of the issue of energy resource use.
A number of assessments can be presented starting from a more basic probing of values. For example, a picture of a power station belching out gases can be given to learners as an assessment exercise. Learners can be asked, either in a test situation or in a take-home essay reflection, to comment on the picture. Examples of probing questions:

  • Who benefits from the emissions coming from this power station?
  • What are the emissions from this power station?
  • How do these emissions and the energy they produce contribute to the local and national economy?
  • Who makes up the rules of the energy game in South Africa, e.g. who decides how much energy we have, what we pay for energy etc.?

The role of big businesses and the role of small users and the role of larger energy providers, such as Eskom, can be explored here. This could be assessed using a range of criteria depending on the task (e.g. marks would be provided for showing new evidence and a good literature review; marks would be assigned for a good understanding of some of the ‘politics’ and ‘ethics’ that underpin energy use in South Africa; and marks awarded for being able to write clearly about such issues etc.). Learners may also work on a small project.

Activity 3 Energy Resources