Towards answering questions about productive thinking: an analysis of Practical Assessment Tasks of the NSC Services Subjects (Celia Booyse)

In a globally interdependent environment, educators are charged with preparing learners for a complex, interactive world. Many researchers argue that radical improvement in the acquisition of certain abilities is necessary because learners leaving school do not show evidence of the very skills and capabilities which would support economic growth. The real educational challenge is to develop learners with critical minds and an ability to apply productive thinking skills in the particular socio-economic environments that are needed to grow an economy.

In monitoring the standards and appropriateness of assessment practices in the National Senior Certificate in South Africa, Umalusi’s evaluation teams analysed the standards of the practical assessment tasks in Consumer Studies, Hospitality Studies and Tourism (collectively known as the Services Subjects). The theoretical framework for the analysis emanates from notions of reproductive and productive thinking, which has specific reference to the work of Romiszowski (1981), but which also considers the work of Kolb (1984) and that of Marzano (1998, 2001) which took the conative and affective aspects of thinking in consideration.  The instrument developed for the analysis measures the level of reproductive and productive skills required to be displayed in the tasks, in terms of cognitive, psychomotor, reactive and interactive categories.

The research findings provided answers to the kind of thinking learners are currently expected to display in practical assessment tasks, and the impact on learner preparedness for becoming responsible citizens entering the labour market in the hospitality and tourism industry.
The findings were presented in June 2014 at the 8th Southern Africa Association for Educational Assessment (SAAEA) conference in Windhoek, Namibia.

The article is available on request from the Department of Higher Education and Training at:

Dr Celia Booyse is the Manager: Curriculum at Umalusi.  She holds a D. Ed (Didactics) with specialisation in curriculum, instructional science and assessment practices.



For further information contact Dr Celia Booyse at