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Deep and surface - the SOLO taxonomy used in e-asTTle

The deep and surface scores which are used in e-asTTle Reading, Maths, Panui, and Pangarau are based on the SOLO taxonomy. SOLO stands for "Structure of observed learning outcomes".

The taxonomy has five levels to describe the quality of student responses. In e-asTTle, prestructural was removed and the remaining four levels have been grouped into two levels – surface and deep.

Summary of the taxonomy in e-asTTle

  • Unistructural – one aspect of a task is picked up or understood serially, and there is no relationship of facts or ideas.
  • Multistructural – two or more aspects of a task are picked up or understood serially, but are not interrelated.
  • Relational – several aspects are integrated so that the whole has a coherent structure and meaning.
  • Extended Abstract – that coherent whole is generalised to a higher level of abstraction.

Each question in e-asTTle has been assigned a level from the SOLO taxonomy. This has then been further classified into either deep or surface.

There are examples in the table.


SOLO classification

e-asTTle classification

Whose house did Goldilocks go into? Unistructural Surface
What are three aspects about the way the bears live that tell us that the story is not a real-life situation? Multistructural Surface
Goldilocks eats the baby bear’s food, breaks his chair, and sleeps in his bed. What does this tell us about the kind of person she is? Relational Deep
Why do nursery tales allow wild animals to act in a human fashion? Extended Abstract Deep

Looking at the surface/deep ratio in a test

When you create a test, you can see the number of questions that are surface or deep on the Test Summary. This is listed under the Cognitive Processing heading.

Image of Summary page with headings Test Identification, Curriculum Strand, Curriculum Level, Cognitive Processing and Slider Settings. Cognitive Processing highlighted with a red around it.

Reporting on surface/deep

You can look at students’ surface/depth scores in three ways.

On the Individual Learning Pathway

Image of Individual Learning Pathway with Overall, Surface and Deep circled in red.

On the "Console" and "Console-Comparisons" reports

Image of two sliders with heading Depth of Thinking. The sliders are on a scale with 1300 at the base and 1700 at the top. The sliders are named SURFACE (52) and DEEP (43).

On the Tabular report, under the Surface Score/Level and Deep Score/Level columns

Image of e-asTTle Tabular Report with red box around four columns with titles Surface Score, Surface Level, Deep Score and Deep Level.

Select image to view it at a larger size.


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