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F965 OCR Coursework


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#76 Matt Spring

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 06:51 PM

The guidance I've always received from OCR was 'don't disadvantage your students'. I therefore pay little attention to the word count providing it comes in at around 3500 for the investigation. They've not criticised me yet and I don't expect them to.


Wonderful. I have absolutely insisted that all the pupils respect the word limits, even requiring them to send me electronic copies of the essay in order that I might check the word count should I feel so disposed. What a waste of time.

#77 Mark H.

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 06:59 PM

Is this the same OCR we're talking about, John? Have you read their 'if you dare go a single word over 2,000 your coursework will be ripped into a thousand pieces and ceremonially burned by chanting priests' missive which is mentioned earlier in this thread? (It doesn't quite say that, but it's not far off).

Edited by Mark H., 27 April 2011 - 07:00 PM.

In memory of my boyhood hero Jim Clark (1936-1968): 'Chevalier Sans Peur et Sans Reproche'.

#78 Giles Falconer

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 06:48 AM

At an OCR INSET session in January 2011 led by the Chief Examiner for this paper it was made very clear that the word limit was real and that any latitude allowed last year was because it was a new course. My students have all been made very clear that 2,000 words is the maximum. I would therefore expect that the rules laid down apply to all entrants...

#79 stephanie

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 07:19 AM

Yep - I was at a London OCR course in January too, and as above - they were very, very clear that the word limit this year was very important...

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#80 CD McKie

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 08:47 AM

The instructions are clear on the word limit, and I have been to a number of training events over the past 18 months or so. It must be strictly adhered to, and we must not give credit to any words over the 2000 limit. We are expected to draw a line through any text beyond the word limit. I was sent this missive last April (too late for last summer's entries) and have had it confirmed since that it must be strictly enforced. The document in question is on the OCR website:

http://www.ocr.org.u..._gce_notice.pdf
To you who call yourselves men of peace, I say: You are not safe unless you have men of action on your side.

#81 Mark H.

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 02:24 PM

The question remains as to why OCR have developed such an obsession with enforcing exact word limits. They claim it is to comply with QCA/Ofqual requirements but the other exam boards all claim to be complying with the regulations whilst allowing some flexibility. Who is right?
In memory of my boyhood hero Jim Clark (1936-1968): 'Chevalier Sans Peur et Sans Reproche'.

#82 Matt Spring

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 06:07 PM

Having again found the marking of the coursework an experience akin to peeling off my skin, I wonder whether any fellow travellers might like to compare notes? (Go on, please! Have a go!)


1. Starting at the shallow end... At the risk of being pedantic, regarding both the Interpretations and Investigations mark schemes, was it necessary for Band 1A text in columns A01a and A01b to be reproduced exactly in the respective cells for Level 1B? Presumably nobody would ever dream of writing down 'Level 1B' for either column, so that band seems utterly redundant for those columns. Haven't OCR heard of the merging cells facility in spreadsheets?


2. In both the Interpretations and Investigations mark schemes, reference is made in A01b to the 'understanding of key concepts relevant to analysis and to the topic'. The heading talks of 'causation, consequences, continuity, change and significance within an historical context' *and* 'the relationships between key features and characteristics of the periods studied.' All suitably intimidating language to a mere mortal like me.

So were one marking the essay, Assess the view that the Holocaust was the result of a predetermined
plan by the Nazi regime
, presumably one would have to look for signs in the essay that the pupil makes a connection - say - between the Wansee Conference's timing and the recent failure of Operation Barbarossa (which now precluded the Nazis from the option of 'disposing' of all the European Jews in their 'possession' by 'dumping' them over the Urals)? Is that it?? Or am I missing something? Does 'the relationship between features and characteristics of the periods studied' mean something terribly arcane and significant that I am simply missing??


3. In the Interpretations mark scheme, A02a requires a 'judgement' of the historians' interpretations. To my mind, in *every* task, each of the 4 interpretations has clear strengths and weaknesses. Is it enough to display this 'judgement' by showing which bits in each are more/less convincing? Or does the necessary 'judgement' in fact require an 'overall winner' to be picked, i.e. 'In conclusion, as we have seen, overall Smith is the most convincing because...'? If the latter, do the remaining interpretations need to be ranked in order of how convincing they are?


4. In the Investigations mark scheme, A02a requires 'critical use of a range of research materials'. I interpret this to mean that a candidate can present an argument/view taken from a source, and validate, qualify or challenge that argument/view by using evidence taken from other sources, i.e.:

'Smith claims x, but I find Jones more convincing when he says y. That Wilkins makes essentially the same point as Jones makes their argument all the more convincing.'

I presume an acceptable alternative would be:

'Smith claims x, but I believe he is wrong because in my research I have found statistic Y which contradicts Smith's claim.'

Presumably a combination of both is acceptable but not obligatory:

'Smith claims x, but Jones says y. I believe Smith is wrong and Jones is right, because in my research I have found statistic Z which contradicts Smith's claim and supports Jones's.'


5. Continuing with the Investigations mark scheme, A01b carries only 6 marks maximum, whereas A02a carries 28. In which column would you penalise a candidate's essay were it very good at evaluating the evidence that it *did* present, yet missed certain important key 'causes'. For instance, in the aforementioned Holocaust essay, what if the candidate never actually got round to discussing the important factor that the Einsatzgruppen had already been murdering vast numbers of Jews *throughout* the Barbarossa campaign? Is this 'missing' factor a 'key concept' (A01b), or is it a serious deficiency in terms of 'analysis' / 'range of research materials' / 'discrimination' (A02a)?


That's enough for now, as my poor brain is buzzing!

Edited by Matt Spring, 05 May 2011 - 06:15 PM.


#83 Mark H.

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 07:04 PM

Matt, I'm afraid that my advice is to move to AQA as we have. I wish that I had done this earlier. At least the mark scheme for their coursework makes some sort of sense and seems to have been written by inhabitants of Planet Earth, as opposed to Cloud Cuckoo Land. A colleague of mine at another school described the mark scheme as 'bizarre'. How else can you consider a scheme where 28 out of 40 marks for each written piece are awarded for one Assessment Objective? Where candidates are apparently supposed to pick holes in the writings of eminent Historians using tiny gobbets of their work possibly quoted out of context? Or where no-one really seems clear about what the board are expecting the students to produce to get good marks two years into the course? I know I'm being stupid and naive but if OCR intended students to write source appraisal essays why didn't they set it up like that rather than make it appear as if they wanted candidates to produce an essay about an historical issue or debate? Isn't that what most people would assume an 'investigation' was?

Edited by Mark H., 07 May 2011 - 06:19 AM.

In memory of my boyhood hero Jim Clark (1936-1968): 'Chevalier Sans Peur et Sans Reproche'.

#84 stephanie

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 07:32 AM

I'll tackle the bits I can! Having been on the course in January:

3. In the Interpretations mark scheme, A02a requires a 'judgement' of the historians' interpretations. To my mind, in *every* task, each of the 4 interpretations has clear strengths and weaknesses. Is it enough to display this 'judgement' by showing which bits in each are more/less convincing? Or does the necessary 'judgement' in fact require an 'overall winner' to be picked, i.e. 'In conclusion, as we have seen, overall Smith is the most convincing because...'? If the latter, do the remaining interpretations need to be ranked in order of how convincing they are?


There was no mention/guidance about students having to RANK the passages in any way, the focus was on their EVALUATION and SYNTHESIS (which according to OCR means the application of the student's own knowledge to assess them).



4. In the Investigations mark scheme, A02a requires 'critical use of a range of research materials'. I interpret this to mean that a candidate can present an argument/view taken from a source, and validate, qualify or challenge that argument/view by using evidence taken from other sources, i.e.:

'Smith claims x, but I find Jones more convincing when he says y. That Wilkins makes essentially the same point as Jones makes their argument all the more convincing.'

I presume an acceptable alternative would be:

'Smith claims x, but I believe he is wrong because in my research I have found statistic Y which contradicts Smith's claim.'

Presumably a combination of both is acceptable but not obligatory:

'Smith claims x, but Jones says y. I believe Smith is wrong and Jones is right, because in my research I have found statistic Z which contradicts Smith's claim and supports Jones's.'


I've been taking this, as I'm sure on the course it was said, that this relates to the SELECTION of sources - are they applicable/sensible, and their evaluation and assessment (as you have said above).

5. Continuing with the Investigations mark scheme, A01b carries only 6 marks maximum, whereas A02a carries 28. In which column would you penalise a candidate's essay were it very good at evaluating the evidence that it *did* present, yet missed certain important key 'causes'. For instance, in the aforementioned Holocaust essay, what if the candidate never actually got round to discussing the important factor that the Einsatzgruppen had already been murdering vast numbers of Jews *throughout* the Barbarossa campaign? Is this 'missing' factor a 'key concept' (A01b), or is it a serious deficiency in terms of 'analysis' / 'range of research materials' / 'discrimination' (A02a)?


Again, the message on the course was that we HAVE to reward evaluation and analysis where they have attempted/achieved it, and thus the majority of the marks for this course are for that skill (as you say, up to 28), so really REALLY good, well structured, well written essays, can fail miserably on this course if they are not packed full of evaluation - if the focus of the essay itself is not the passages/sources... so in the senario you present I would be looking to column AO1b and their 'understanding of key concepts relevant to ... the topic' to mark them...

I hope that helps, somebody please correct me if I'm wrong!

@_miss_moss_


#85 Giles Falconer

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 08:37 AM

Again, the message on the course was that we HAVE to reward evaluation and analysis where they have attempted/achieved it, and thus the majority of the marks for this course are for that skill (as you say, up to 28), so really REALLY good, well structured, well written essays, can fail miserably on this course if they are not packed full of evaluation - if the focus of the essay itself is not the passages/sources... so in the senario you present I would be looking to column AO1b and their 'understanding of key concepts relevant to ... the topic' to mark them...

I hope that helps, somebody please correct me if I'm wrong!

This is my understanding too!

#86 stephanie

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 09:11 AM

Again, the message on the course was that we HAVE to reward evaluation and analysis where they have attempted/achieved it, and thus the majority of the marks for this course are for that skill (as you say, up to 28), so really REALLY good, well structured, well written essays, can fail miserably on this course if they are not packed full of evaluation - if the focus of the essay itself is not the passages/sources... so in the senario you present I would be looking to column AO1b and their 'understanding of key concepts relevant to ... the topic' to mark them...

I hope that helps, somebody please correct me if I'm wrong!

This is my understanding too!


Phew!!

@_miss_moss_


#87 CD McKie

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 06:57 PM

I just do my best to interpret the mark scheme, and think I manage to be consistent in its application. However, whether my marking is akin to that of other teachers out there, who knows? Even my most able historians generally struggle to get very high marks, and I wonder if I am being too harsh. I just don't think the tasks lend themselves to the 2000 word limit, particularly the Investigation element. I have not found it a very enjoyable module to teach, and some of my more enthusiastic historians have had the stuffing knocked out of them by the end of the course. Perhaps, it's my fault.
To you who call yourselves men of peace, I say: You are not safe unless you have men of action on your side.

#88 Mark H.

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 07:25 PM

Chris-you echo my concerns exactly. What OCR seem to be expecting candidates to achieve in a 2000 word 'investigation' appears impossible. Why they didn't just ask for a single 4000 word piece is beyond me. They seem to have been obsessed with converting the old 2589 Module format directly into coursework. If you want A2 coursework which is intelligible and its objectives achievable by students, as I say earlier, look no further than AQA's HIS4X Unit. I shall stop ranting about this now. What annoys me is that OCR didn't seem to know what the heck they were doing on the old externally-marked coursework and endured no end of complaints from centres as a result but appear not to have learned their lesson on the new Spec. Like you, I find that F965 and its vagaries have sapped the morale of my brightest and best. Is that what OCR really wants to achieve?

Edited by Mark H., 07 May 2011 - 06:22 AM.

In memory of my boyhood hero Jim Clark (1936-1968): 'Chevalier Sans Peur et Sans Reproche'.

#89 stephanie

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 10:17 AM

I just do my best to interpret the mark scheme, and think I manage to be consistent in its application. However, whether my marking is akin to that of other teachers out there, who knows? Even my most able historians generally struggle to get very high marks, and I wonder if I am being too harsh. I just don't think the tasks lend themselves to the 2000 word limit, particularly the Investigation element. I have not found it a very enjoyable module to teach, and some of my more enthusiastic historians have had the stuffing knocked out of them by the end of the course. Perhaps, it's my fault.


Have you been on a course? You really should if you haven't - it made it all SO clear for me (and I was totally in the dark before that!) - the whole of this A2 course is about the skill of evaluation and analysis, hence the weighting of the markscheme... so as long as your students are writing their essays/investigations about the SOURCES/PASSAGES (as a vehicle to answer the question) rather then using the sources to illustrate an essay about the topic, and as long as that evaluation and analysis are of a high quality (ie packed with own knowledge) then they'll be fine.

We realised that the moderators (and they'll hate me for saying this) will be looking out for evaluative keywords within the essay, to make sure that the students are spending their 2000 words evaluating evaluation evaluating... and that's the skill I've been teaching ALL YEAR (poor kids!)... but as a result their essays are a careful study of the passages/sources rather than an essay focused entirely on the issue itself - does that make sense?

I retyped some of the essays from the folder they gave out - an A*/A, C, and U (ish) and I get the students to mark and rank them once we've worked on what evaluation IS - it's a very powerful exercise because the 'u' essay is actually a very good essay, and they all automatically put it to the top of the pile! It's quite a shock when we go through them together highlighting all the evaluation (or lack of!) in the three essays and using the markscheme to mark them! Once we've done that I get them to do the same to each other's work all the way through the course until they are doing it automatically.

I've heard some people say that they don't understand why students need this skill, but I know that I was expected to evaluate stuff to get a first, rather than just use it as illustration... but that might just have been my uni/course I suppose...

Anyway, if anyone would be interested in sharing resources/help with this course I think it would be an excellent idea! I've got some great resources from this forum, one of the most useful being a huge list of 'evaluative vocabulary' (which either came from here or from one of my extensive web-trawls!). I'm thinking of making an A2 'place mat' for this course for next year, (which I'll laminate) to include this list, information relative to our particular subject, and other bits and bobs - I'd love to hear if anyone has any other ideas for that! (this was an idea that I heard from Jo Philpot (i think!))

Edited by stephanie, 07 May 2011 - 10:20 AM.

@_miss_moss_


#90 CD McKie

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 12:18 PM


I just do my best to interpret the mark scheme, and think I manage to be consistent in its application. However, whether my marking is akin to that of other teachers out there, who knows? Even my most able historians generally struggle to get very high marks, and I wonder if I am being too harsh. I just don't think the tasks lend themselves to the 2000 word limit, particularly the Investigation element. I have not found it a very enjoyable module to teach, and some of my more enthusiastic historians have had the stuffing knocked out of them by the end of the course. Perhaps, it's my fault.


Have you been on a course? You really should if you haven't - it made it all SO clear for me (and I was totally in the dark before that!) - the whole of this A2 course is about the skill of evaluation and analysis, hence the weighting of the markscheme... so as long as your students are writing their essays/investigations about the SOURCES/PASSAGES (as a vehicle to answer the question) rather then using the sources to illustrate an essay about the topic, and as long as that evaluation and analysis are of a high quality (ie packed with own knowledge) then they'll be fine.

We realised that the moderators (and they'll hate me for saying this) will be looking out for evaluative keywords within the essay, to make sure that the students are spending their 2000 words evaluating evaluation evaluating... and that's the skill I've been teaching ALL YEAR (poor kids!)... but as a result their essays are a careful study of the passages/sources rather than an essay focused entirely on the issue itself - does that make sense?

I retyped some of the essays from the folder they gave out - an A*/A, C, and U (ish) and I get the students to mark and rank them once we've worked on what evaluation IS - it's a very powerful exercise because the 'u' essay is actually a very good essay, and they all automatically put it to the top of the pile! It's quite a shock when we go through them together highlighting all the evaluation (or lack of!) in the three essays and using the markscheme to mark them! Once we've done that I get them to do the same to each other's work all the way through the course until they are doing it automatically.

I've heard some people say that they don't understand why students need this skill, but I know that I was expected to evaluate stuff to get a first, rather than just use it as illustration... but that might just have been my uni/course I suppose...

Anyway, if anyone would be interested in sharing resources/help with this course I think it would be an excellent idea! I've got some great resources from this forum, one of the most useful being a huge list of 'evaluative vocabulary' (which either came from here or from one of my extensive web-trawls!). I'm thinking of making an A2 'place mat' for this course for next year, (which I'll laminate) to include this list, information relative to our particular subject, and other bits and bobs - I'd love to hear if anyone has any other ideas for that! (this was an idea that I heard from Jo Philpot (i think!))

Thanks, Stephanie. Yes, I have been on a couple of courses. What I was trying to say in my previous post is that the mark scheme is quite unwieldy and is open to misinterpretation. Having been on a couple of F965 courses, I am confident I am marking my scripts the way OCR expect. My marks were not altered last year. However, I can definitely imagine vastly different standards of marking throughout the country. I always wonder whether my marking has been a bit harsh, and even if it is then I doubt they'll be moderated up.

My other concern is that many of my students have not been enthused about the relentless focus on the skills at the cost of actually learning some history per se. I am not an old fuddy duddy who cannot see the value of skills of evaluation, but I do think that the Investigation lends itself to 4000 words and more scope for students to show off their factual knowledge and enthusiasm for a particular period of history.
To you who call yourselves men of peace, I say: You are not safe unless you have men of action on your side.




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