Appendix 3: Developing capabilities using key competencies

This appendix explains the purpose and meaning of capabilities and how they can be developed using KCs (Hipkins, 2017).

The shift in focus from KCs to capabilities captures the increased complexity of more recent thinking about ‘weaving’. In NZCER’s Phase 3, ‘capabilities’ were re-defined to describe the learning outcomes of students practising KCs.

Capabilities are developed from weaving together one or more KCs with learning area content. The capabilities approach recognises that the KCs are not stand-alone practices and allow for a clearer understanding of the outcomes that can be achieved through effective teaching of the KCs.

Hipkins (2017) identified four capabilities, which are valuable in all learning areas and which each require students to draw from at least two KCs. The first of these capabilities were derived from an analysis of National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) assessment tasks. They were what students needed to be able to do to complete tasks across a range of learning areas. The fourth arose as an additional, important capability beyond task completion.

The capabilities are:

  • meaning-making: students take the mindset of the learning area, which involves comprehending the knowledge-building and communication practices of the learning area and developing one’s own ideas in the learning area
  • perspective-taking: identifying and understanding an idea, action or challenge from other perspectives
  • critical inquiry: understanding how knowledge is being made and being able to critically assess knowledge
  • taking action: wanting and knowing how to take action to expand their personal growth and/or contribute to wider society (Hipkins, 2017).