Sunday, 11 August 2013

Linear Assessment = Linear Skills Teaching

How do we adjust our teaching to take account of linear assessment?

The introduction of linear assessment for GCSE subjects has moved the examination goal posts to a significant extent. In the teaching of Edexcel GCSE Business Studies, many teachers have delivered Unit 1 of the syllabus to Year 10 who have sat a multiple choice paper at the end of the year. Now, instead of this "assess-and-forget" unit at the end of Year 10, students will need to retain what they have learnt through to the end of Year 11, which is the new point at which they will sit the Unit 1 examination. In addition, students will need to be prepared for the Unit 3 examination which they will sit at the same time. Many teachers have traditionally taught this unit in Year 11. I would suggest, however, that the Unit 3 examination papers are far too "technical" for the teaching of the skills required to be crammed in to what is effectively two terms.

The solution is simply to teach the skills required for Unit 3 from the start of Year 10. In other words, skills teaching has to be linear in order to prepare students for linear assessment. This means that students need to be taught how to deal with the kind of Discuss, Explain and Assess questions that will come up in the Unit 3 paper from the very start of the course. The best way I have found for doing this is to provide students with writing frames.

Here is a pdf file which contains an example writing frame for answering a Describe question linked to chapter 1 of the Anderton and Gunn Unit 1 textbook. Students first plan their response and then write their final answer. In this way it is hoped that they will have 2 years to learn how to structure an answer properly, leading to an improved performance in the examination, particularly in those 8 and 10 mark Assess questions. 

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