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Complaint: OCR GCSE History B (Germany Depth Study)


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#1 Mark Raychell

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 12:11 PM

I've never put in a complaint before, but I'm sure I wasn't the only teacher dismayed by the use of Source B in yesterday's exam:

Posted Image

The attribution for this source read 'A poster published in Germany in 1919. It says, 'Bolshevism will drown the world in blood'.
The question the students had to answer was 'Why was this poster published in Germany in 1919?'
Most of our students were unable to answer this question simply because they didn't know that Bolshevism meant Communism, and I think it's unreasonable for the exam board to expect them to do so.
It is ofcourse reasonable to expect students to know what Communism was, and had the attribution made this link for them, they could have accessed the question.
As it was they had no other means of knowing this poster was referring to Communism, as there is no hammer and sickle or red flag in the source to use as clues and there is no indication in the attribution of who produced the source.

In short, much too difficult for GCSE and worthy of a complaint, I believe. Any thoughts or similar experiences?

#2 Martyn Ellis

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:10 PM

Totally agree.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect students to understand the term Communism but not Bolshevism in this context. Some of my students made some reasonable guesses that Bolshevism had something to do with Communism and wrote about the Spartacist threat as additional knowledge to explain the source. I am going to complain about the use of the term 'Bolshevism'. What always frustrates me about this paper is how it is a 'one size fits all' and is supposed to be accessible to all abilities, which it rarely is! Seriously considering moving to Edexcel. Will be making a decision based on Friday's Paper 2 which I am hoping will be much better than the January offering.

#3 Mark Raychell

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:40 PM

Some of our students used the red colour of the poster to guess it was about Communism and work from there, but the majority were totally thrown by it. As you say,the source chosen needs to be accessible to all abilities and the differentiation can be built in to the mark scheme.
What worries me is that this seems to be a trend in recent OCR History exams. I'm not at the stage where I'd consider changing boards, but I'll be interested to see how OCR respond to our complaints.

#4 lee d

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 03:41 PM

I agree and would support any complaint. Whilst many of my students used the 'Germany' and '1919' to work out it was Communism I find it odd that they defined the term 'pruning' in the Cold War cartoon yet not 'Bolshevism' in the poster. I also found the cartoon slightly odd too. Its a narrow part of the syllabus but thought the question itself 'What is the message of the cartoon'? was very straight forward and not really challenging in the way that Q4's have been in the past. I'm starting to feel the whole paper is becoming erratic and am considering a move.

#5 paulparky

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 04:05 PM

A few other people have commented on this question on the thread about Paper 1 with USA and also on OCR's own forum. I've already emailed a complaint and would urge everybody else affected to follow suit.

Edited by paulparky, 13 June 2012 - 04:14 PM.


#6 Frank Dacey

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 06:46 PM

I agree too. Most of our kids seem to struggle with it. Otherwise, I liked the paper and the return of the 'closed' question in the German section was welcome. Some recent OCR exams, more at A level, have really annoyed me and it is disappointing to see a tendency to be unreasonable creeping in at GCSE too. Lets hope Friday's paper has no unpleasant surprises

#7 R. Arnold

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 09:37 PM

Bolshevism was RUSSIAN so how can we expect GCSE students studying GERMANY as a Depth Study to know this term? The German communist party was the KPD (K=Kommunism). Virtually none of our students could recognise the relevance to Spartacists. Effectively 10% of the marks for the Paper lost. When the whole "message" of the source revolves around the meaning of the CAPTION/TITLE it is ridiculous that no guidance was offered.

#8 Kath M

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 01:26 PM

I am in total agreement with the previous posts. Hardly any of my students were familiar with the term 'Bolshevism'. I will complain, but to save time does anyone have the appropriate address/email to hand so I can lodge my complaint quickly?
Many thanks

Kath M

#9 E Rickards

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 04:12 PM

You can complain via the OCR website. A group of us complained about the OCR History A P2 last year on policing. I will be complaining about the 'Bolshevism' source.

#10 SheffHist

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 03:56 PM

My department have emailed to voice the same misgivings as have been voiced here, it seems a very odd choice of wording. It is nice to know we are not the only ones who thought so!

#11 Roy Huggins

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 08:09 PM

I would advise dropping Germany altogether and switching to the USA Depth Study. 1920s Germany is a minefield, but if you switch to teh USA Depth Study its easy, straight forward and you can do Nazi Germany for your coursework. Its a win, win situation!

Roy :jester:
"Men are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen." - Epictetus

#12 Mark Raychell

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 08:13 AM

I've been advised that complaints about exam papers can be emailed to: general.qualifications@ocr.org.uk

#13 Roy Huggins

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 08:06 PM

Always the best way to go direct!
"Men are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen." - Epictetus

#14 Martyn Ellis

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 11:51 AM

I received a reply from OCR yesterday which seems quite positive:

"The poster used in Source B was a reproduction of the original published in Germany in 1919. Given this context the examining team, when approving the Source, regarded the term 'Bolshevism' as one that candidates would be familiar with and therefore did not require a definition. However on reflection OCR regognises that it would have been more helpful to assume that not all candidates would be familiar with the term and dhould have defined bolshevism to avoid any confusion. This would also have been more consistent with the reference to Communism in the specification.'

The reply then goes on to say that there will be a review of responses to the question throughout the marking period and that all letters from centres will be tabled at the award meeting.

Edited by Martyn Ellis, 22 June 2012 - 11:51 AM.


#15 Tony Fox

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 02:01 PM

Can I just add, I did OCR standardisation on a different spec, thus I am not in the know, but we were directed to mark in a particular way on one question, theyt changed the mark scheme also, this was due, in part to the responses, thus I assume they will do something similar for this.
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