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NSW Syllabuses

Investigating Science Stage 6 - Year 11 - Module 2: Cause and Effect – Inferences and Generalisations Module 2: Cause and Effect – Inferences and Generalisations


A student:

  • INS11/12-1

    develops and evaluates questions and hypotheses for scientific investigation

  • INS11/12-2

    designs and evaluates investigations in order to obtain primary and secondary data and information

  • INS11/12-4

    selects and processes appropriate qualitative and quantitative data and information using a range of appropriate media

  • INS11-9

    examines the use of inferences and generalisations in scientific investigations

Related Life Skills outcomes: SCLS6-1, SCLS6-2, SCLS6-4, SCLS6-9

Content Focus

Scientific inquiry follows on from humans making inferences and generalisations from commonly held understandings. Such inferences and generalisations have led to a wide range of investigations being performed throughout history, culminating in breakthroughs in scientific understanding. Many hypotheses, when found to be correct, have generated further inquiry and created the need to develop new technologies for further observation.

Students consider primary and secondary-sourced data and its influence on scientific investigations. In this module, students engage in gathering primary and secondary-sourced data to assist them in conducting and reporting on investigations, and to further develop their understanding of the central roles of scientific questioning and collaboration in the pursuit of scientific truth.

Working Scientifically

In this module, students focus on designing and evaluating investigations, drawing inferences, making generalisations, and developing and testing hypotheses through the collection and processing of data. Students should be provided with opportunities to engage with all Working Scientifically skills throughout the course.


  • Observations and Inferences

  • Inquiry question: What inferences can be drawn from observations?
  • Students:
  • investigate the practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples that relate to observations and inferences, including but not limited to: ahc
  • leaching of toxins in bush tucker
  • locating sources of freshwater within bodies of salt water
  • conduct a collaborative practical investigation  and collect a range of qualitative and quantitative primary data from one of the following: cctictn
  • growth of plants
  • reactions of calcium carbonate
  • the ‘life’ of different batteries under different circumstances
  • water quality of a pond or local stream
  • make inferences and conclusions derived from the primary data collected in this collaborative practical investigation
  • Using Secondary-sourced Data

  • Inquiry question: How is secondary-sourced data used in practical investigations?
  • Students:
  • collect qualitative and quantitative secondary-sourced data to validate the inferences and conclusions drawn from the practical investigation carried out above, based on one or more of the following: cctictl
  • the effect of soil salinity on plant growth
  • chemical reactions in cave formation
  • energy storage
  • methods of water monitoring
  • discuss how secondary-sourced data adds to the inferences and conclusions drawn from primary data
  • evaluate the usefulness of considering secondary-sourced research before undertaking an investigation to collect primary data, in order to: cct
  • make inferences
  • develop inquiry questions
  • construct suitable hypotheses
  • plan suitable investigations
  • avoid unnecessary investigation
  • Observing Patterns

  • Inquiry question: How does humans’ ability to recognise patterns affect the way they interpret data?
  • Students:
  • describe patterns that have been observed over time throughout the Universe and in nature using, for example: cct
  • animal migration
  • movement of comets
  • formation and shape of snow crystals
  • elements exhibiting certain properties
  • interpret data in order to propose a hypothesis based on an irregular pattern observed over time in the Universe and in nature using, for example: cctln
  • the Aurora Australis
  • fractals in nature
  • the behaviour of unstable isotopes
  • examine the human tendency to observe patterns and misinterpret information, for example:
  • discuss how the tendency to recognise patterns, even when they may not exist, can lead to misinterpretation of data
  • discuss the role and significance of outliers in data
  • Developing Inquiry Questions

  • Inquiry question: How can hypotheses and assumptions be tested?
  • Students:
  • gather secondary-sourced data describing historical instances of long-standing assumptions that have been updated by scientific investigation, including but not limited to: ccteu
  • spontaneous generation and the investigations that led to the proposal of the germ theory
  • radioactivity: including the work of Henri Becquerel and Marie Curie
  • phlogiston theory
  • human influences on atmospheric pollution
  • propose an inquiry question, construct a hypothesis and conduct an investigation that tests a common assumption, for example:
  • washing with antibacterial soap kills more germs than washing with normal soap
  • the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West
  • what goes up must come down
  • use appropriate representations to analyse the data cctictln
  • Generalisations in Science

  • Inquiry question: What generalisations and assumptions are made from observed data?
  • Students:
  • make generalisations to describe any trends found in the data ictn
  • draw conclusion based on generalisations ictn
  • Peer Review

  • Inquiry question: What role do peers play in scientific investigation?
  • Students:
  • assess the input that collaborative teams and alternative perspectives have had on the development of hypotheses and research questions that have contributed to the development of, for example: iudd
  • particle accelerators
  • periodic table
  • study of bioastronomy
  • geological uniformitarianism
  • assess the scientific community's current understanding of scientific mysteries and outline why this understanding remains incomplete, including but not limited to: cctict
  • origins of life on the Earth
  • the idea that feynmanium is the last chemical on the periodic table that could exist
  • the expanding Universe and Hubble constant
  • evaluate biases that may have affected the scientific thinking of European settlers about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ecological understanding and knowledge of Country and Place in relation to agricultural practices and the biological and natural resources of Australia ahcseeuiucc