Jump to content
The Education Forum
Sign in to follow this  
John Simkin

GCSE Coursework

Recommended Posts

A survey by the National Union of Teachers found that despite serious reservations, only one out of eight wanted GCSE coursework scrapped. However, 62 per cent of NUT members surveyed said that coursework had added too much to their workloads. According to the survey, one of the major concerns of teachers is that coursework favours middle-class students, who were more likely to get “support” from parents.

John Bangs, head of education at the NUT said: “Too often, instead of encouraging pupils to take risks in their work, it is in danger of becoming a bureaucratised part of the examination process. The mixture of good practice templates on the web combined with enormous pressures to enhance schools’ positions in league tables is draining the creative value of coursework.”

http://www.teachers.org.uk/index.php

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a) Coursework is a means of assessment - just like an exam thereofre the ease of which it is marked has noithing to do with it. We are teachers - we mark the students work no matter how they have been assessed.

:blink: The reason they believe the middle class kids get better marks doing it is because of parental support. If that it the case then it means their parents are doing the right thing and providing an example of what parental support can achieve. I am not saying that it decries the achievement of working class parents but should mean that schools look at homework clubs with more thought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have reservations about the value of coursework. I have worked in the higher education sector as an external examiner during the last ten years, and I’ve looked at a large volume of coursework. Since the advent of the Web, plagiarism has become a significant problem – sufficiently alarming for the university funding councils in the UK to have set up a project looking at the whole issue. The project website is worth a visit for anyone wishing to find out more about this issue: see the JISC Plagiarism Advisory Service at http://www.jiscpas.ac.uk

I was not fully aware of how easy it is to cheat and plagiarise until I began to do research for an article I was writing, namely on the inventor of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee. Among the top ten references that I found on the Web was an essay on "The Birth of the Web", offered for sale by an American university student.

Try doing a search with Google using the keywords "essays for sale". Scary, isn't it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hate coursework. Mind you I am not that keen on exams easier. Both discriminate against the kind of students that I currently teach - 'inner city', often a mobile population, some disaffected, some E2L, some SEN, some a bit lazy and most rubbish at meeting deadlines. It is an absolute nightmare getting in the coursework from the vast majority of my boys and quite frankly the quality is not really up to much - they have in the main copied / paraphrased from the worksheets that I have given them to prepare for the course. Now it was a different story at the surbuban girls school that I used to teach at, in fact I struggle to remember any issues at all apart from how high should we grade the work?

Personally I think we should move to alot more teacher assessment - after all who knows the quality of the work better than the person that marks the vast majority of it and has seen the progression over the last 2 - 5 years? I would also argue in favour of 'seen exams'. I did this as part of my MA and it was a much better system of really assessing the quality of writing rather than testing memory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My biggest beef about coursework is that the appalling pressure teachers in the UK are put under to meet school and government imposed "targets" tends to lead to a distortion of educational practice by increasing numbers. Many of us I am sure could quote examples of teachers "over coaching" students and in some cases even writing assignments for them.

In principle I agree with Dan but I think we would need a complete overhaul of the current "target focussed" climate for it to work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally I enjoy my involvement with student's coursework - but then I do teach Graphics, Electronics and Systems - and given students that enjoy studying their chosen subjects, the reward is enormous. 'Practical tasks' chosen by the students and that require a significant underlying understanding of materials and processes have been as rewarding for me as for the candidates. The problems associated with plagiarism could become significant but I can't recall any incidence when my own students have presented work that they couldn't debate when asked.

I note Dan's comment about disaffected students but have found that students finding inspiration in something in which they have major ownership has been common in my varied strata of student-profiles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have recently introduced coursework to languages at our school and I have very mixed feelings about it. I feel that my very weak students do benefit from it, in comparison to the old writing exam for which they often wrote nothing. The coursework allows for gap-fill texts or lists of phrases to be provided for weaker students, with a maximum mark allowable when those resources are declared.

However, I am sure that my better students are not being stretched by coursework. I know that theoretically they can push themselves and try new things, however this often leads to mistakes which they wouldn't make in a more straightforward piece. The easiest way to get full marks is to write a simplish piece which is very accurate. This has led to problems with the jump to AS.

There is of course always the worry about plagiarism - in our case it is often older brothers or sisters who correct coursework for them. It's difficult, if not impossible, to control.

I also worry that there are some schools who are more lax than we are in the way they carry out coursework - whilst I don't wish to suggest colleagues are unprofessional, we all know how much pressure is put on staff to get better and better results - I know how often I've been tempted to say more to a student than I should to improve the mark.

I don't think there is a perfect answer to this question!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest ChristineS
My biggest beef about coursework is that the appalling pressure teachers in the UK are put under to meet school and government imposed "targets" tends to lead to a distortion of educational practice by increasing numbers. Many of us I am sure could quote examples of teachers "over coaching" students and in some cases even writing assignments for them.

In principle I agree with Dan but I think we would need a complete overhaul of the current "target focussed" climate for it to work.

I am in absolute 110% heartfelt agreement with you here!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...