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GCSE coursework 'could be abolished'


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GCSE coursework 'could be abolished'

http://education.guardian.co.uk/gcses/stor...1744283,00.html

Press Association

Friday March 31, 2006

Coursework could become a thing of the past for GCSE students in many subjects, the government's exams watchdog said.

Ken Boston, the chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, said coursework would remain in place only where it was the most reliable way of ranking pupils.

In an interview with the Times Educational Supplement, he said: "In many areas of the curriculum, coursework is the only and the best way to assess.

"But in others it is not."

He did not rule out abolishing coursework for subjects including English literature, although it was thought that maths GCSE would be more likely to revert to an exam-only qualification.

Last year, the education secretary, Ruth Kelly, ordered a review of the coursework content for GCSEs after the QCA warned that cheating and internet plagiarism were on the rise.

The QCA will launch a series of consultations on the future of coursework in GCSE subjects.

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I found the coursework element in MFL a mixed blessing to teach. It's very difficult to judge how much help to give without penalising the student in the process by spoonfeeding them. If coursework is abolished, it would be interesting to see what effect this would have not only on GCSE results but also on the relatively better performance of girls in public examinations. Didn't boys outshine girls at one time because end of course assessment suited them better? They preferred leaving their revision to the last minute, while girls are more prepared to submit work regularly for continuous assessment.

David Wilson

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The principle of having a coursework element is a good one (in a system where exams and and exam performance are seen as reasonable means to a reasonable end), and it should be maintained as an option.

The apparently rising tendency to plagiarise etc is largely a result of the pressure on students and schools to perform, and the lack of time teachers have to monitor and guide in the modern education regime.

Looking at it coldly, I would enjoy the additional time made available that would no longer be used for chasing the disorganised, marking 60 pieces of work per class and moderating across the subject. However I would miss the opportunity to study a wider range of materials and some of them in a more discursive manner.

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The principle of having a coursework element is a good one (in a system where exams and and exam performance are seen as reasonable means to a reasonable end), and it should be maintained as an option.

The apparently rising tendency to plagiarise etc is largely a result of the pressure on students and schools to perform, and the lack of time teachers have to monitor and guide in the modern education regime.

Looking at it coldly, I would enjoy the additional time made available that would no longer be used for chasing the disorganised, marking 60 pieces of work per class and moderating across the subject. However I would miss the opportunity to study a wider range of materials and some of them in a more discursive manner.

The problem here is actually the teachers. They are under enormous pressure to deliver the results their line managers crave. I am of the opinion that the majority of teachers now cheat when it comes to the help they give their students during coursework. Neither am I surprised that they do.

The solution to the problem is not the abolition of coursework. Rather we must start at the centre to unravel the "target centered" monstrousity what passes for education in this country has become. To do this teachers must reclaim their own professionalism.

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One of the major arguments against coursework is that it discriminates against children from non-academic backgrounds. It is pretty obvious that a large number of students get considerable help from their parents with coursework. Understandably, some teachers take the view that they should give more help to those students who do not enjoy the benefits of having an academic home. Going by the comments in the right-wing press, this is perceived as “cheating”. The government has always had mixed feeling towards this extra help that teachers give to students. It helps them get better exam results so they usually keep quiet about this “problem”. However, when it politically suits them to have a go at teachers, they go along with this idea that the profession cannot be trusted with administrating coursework.

I am personally a great fan of coursework as an academic activity. One problem with it is that it always has to be graded. This creates problems about the amount of help that is given. This turns it into a very artificial situation. I also thought it was the role of a teacher to help his/her student.

My approach to coursework is that it should be like a research degree. I therefore gave students as much help as my tutor gave me at university. It also should be research that comes out of the student’s own studies. Ideally, it should be new research. For example, it could be based on a local history study. I used to do this in Year 7. I got some fantastic work from my students. I know some got considerable help from their parents. So what, it was a great learning experience. I used to turn the best ones into booklets that we used as teaching materials. Some were so good we sold them at parents’ evenings. If I was doing it now I would put them on the school website and create a free local history resource.

The only problem with this approach is teacher time. If teachers are to become effective teachers they need to be given less time in the classroom.

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the profession cannot be trusted with administrating coursework.

I am afraid that the reality is that it can't.

This is the logical if regretable consequence of performance related pay and a national fixation with league tables and accountability. Many teachers are quite literally writing coursework for their students.

The situation has in my view deteriorated seriously in the last 6 years and from being an enthusiastic supporter of the opportunities coursework offered I have moved to being an opponent.

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In my message I speculated that coursework might enhance girls' academic achievement because conventional wisdom says that they respond better to continuous assessment while boys tend to perform better in end-of-course exams. Does anybody have any hard, or even anecdotal, evidence to support or refute this hypothesis?

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In my message I speculated that coursework might enhance girls' academic achievement because conventional wisdom says that they respond better to continuous assessment while boys tend to perform better in end-of-course exams. Does anybody have any hard, or even anecdotal, evidence to support or refute this hypothesis?

I work in what the government would call a good school (84% with 5 A*-C) and it's all girls. I can offer something anecdotal that suggests that girls do not respond uniformly to coursework. About 10% seem to work to the relevant deadline and write in accordance with expectations. The next 25% struggle but meet deadlines, a little below expectation. For the remaining 65% it's very hit and miss. It tends to be that they're held back by the sheer volume and some notion that the students have that the end of the spring term in year 11 will occur some time near their 36th birthday, and nowhere near their 16th.

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