Gill Elliott

Gill Elliott

My background is in Psychology, and I hold a BSc from the University of York as well as a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Bristol. Post university, I worked for both the Medical Research Council in London and the Department of Psychiatry in Cambridge, researching the impact of transition to community, rather than hospital-based, care upon the lifestyle and wellbeing of adults with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour.

I joined the newly-formed research department of UCLES, as Cambridge Assessment used to be known, in January 1994 and have worked on a wide variety of projects including extensive comparability work, questionnaires and surveys of centres and candidates, and detailed evaluation of individual specifications. I lead the comparability strand of our research programme, and have been involved for more than 20 years with our Aspects of Writing research which examines elements of 16+ candidates’ writing at various points in time.

At present, I am revisiting the topic of teaching and learning practical cookery skills in schools, which we first researched in the early 2000’s. I am closely involved with comparability research in many different guises; plus I am enjoying settling into a new role as Deputy Director of Assessment Research and Development, which brings with it a greater involvement in the management of the division.

At home, I am often to be found in the greenhouse or at the allotment and my research role at work is reflected in an ongoing fascination with family archives and genealogy.

Publications

2017

Is the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) in England incongruous in the light of other jurisdictions’ approaches to assessment?
Elliott, G., Rushton, N. and Ireland, J. (2017). Presented at the 18th annual AEA Europe conference, Prague, 9-11 November 2017.
Popular perceptions about the comparability of assessments in England. A tension between academia and the mainstream broadcast and print media?
Elliott, G. and Rushton, N. (2017). Presented at the 18th annual AEA Europe conference, Prague, 9-11 November 2017.
Aspects of Writing: challenges and benefits of longitudinal research
Elliott, G. (2017). Presented at the annual conference of the British Educational Research Association, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, 5-7 September 2017.

2016

Research Matters Special Issue 4: Aspects of Writing 1980-2014
Elliott, G., Green, S., Constantinou, F., Vitello, S., Chambers, L., Rushton, N., Ireland, J., Bowyer, J. and Beauchamp, D. (2016). Research Matters Special Issue 4: Aspects of Writing 1980-2014.
Good - better - best? Identifying highest performing jurisdictions

Elliott, G. (2016). Good - better - best? Identifying highest performing jurisdictions. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 22, 37-38.

We have become used to references to high-performing jurisdictions, but there are now many different published rankings of jurisdictions, each of which identifies high-performers. In consequence, the number of jurisdictions which fulfil the description of being high-performing has grown to a sizeable number. Sometimes, for practical research purposes, it is desirable to identify a smaller number of the highest performing jurisdictions at a given point in time. This article explores a strategy for doing so, based upon evaluating the position of a jurisdiction across a number of different rankings.

2015

The reliability of setting grade boundaries using comparative judgement
Benton, T. and Elliott, G. (2015). The reliability of setting grade boundaries using comparative judgement. Research Papers in Education, 31(3), 352-376.

2014

Course struggle, exam stress, or a fear of the unknown? A study of A level students’ assessment preferences and the reasons behind them
Suto, I., Elliott, G., Rushton, N. and Mehta, S. (2014). Course struggle, exam stress, or a fear of the unknown? A study of A level students’ assessment preferences and the reasons behind them. Educational Futures (ejournal of the British Educational Studies Association), 6(2).
Method in our madness? The advantages and limitations of mapping other jurisdictions' educational policy and practice

Elliott, G. (2014). Method in our madness? The advantages and limitations of mapping other jurisdictions' educational policy and practice. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 17, 24-29.

Making comparisons between different nations’ educational systems is challenging and, whilst it is beneficial to study the education systems of other jurisdictions in order to evaluate alternative approaches and to explore innovation, it is important to temper enthusiasm for alternative systems’ successes with a realistic appraisal of the similarities and differences of their systems; their cultures and the dynamics at play in their schools.

Mapping exercises have been used to illuminate contrasts between different international approaches to education and assessment. This paper addresses the advantages and limitations of making comparisons with other jurisdictions, informed by our experiences whilst undertaking a large project during which a total of more than twenty jurisdictions were included in a number of different levels of comparison.

2013

Independent research at A level: Students’ and teachers’ experiences

Mehta, S., Suto, I., Elliott, G. and Rushton, N. (2013). Independent research at A level: Students’ and teachers’ experiences. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 15, 9-16. 

Our aims were to explore teachers’ and students’ experiences and perspectives of independent research at A level. The study focused Economics, French and Mathematics. It investigated: (i) the extent to which teachers think research and investigative skills can be developed at A level; (ii) the resources and guidance that students use; and (iii) whether subject-specific differences arise. A questionnaire and follow-on interview methodology was used. 47 Mathematics teachers, 24 Economics teachers and 15 French teachers participated. Additionally, 299 Mathematics students, 228 Economics students and 136 French students took part.

About half of the French and Economics teachers were found to assign investigative/research tasks to their students at least once a fortnight. On the other hand, about half of the Mathematics teachers set such tasks less often and a further 40% never set them at all. The frequency with which the teachers set investigation/research tasks as homework/private study showed the same subject-specific differences as the classroom context. The internet was the most frequently listed source that students across all three subjects consulted while engaging in independent research. The interview data shed further light on general and specific internet usage. Overall, the findings explain some of the variation in preparedness of new undergraduates for independent study and research-related tasks at university.

2012

Cambridge Assessment Statistics Reports: Recent highlights

Emery, J., Gill, T., Grayson, R. and Vidal Rodeiro, C. L. (2012). Cambridge Assessment Statistics Reports: Recent highlights. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 14, 45-50.

The Research Division publishes a number of Statistics Reports each year based on the latest national examinations data. These are statistical summaries of various aspects of the English examination system, covering topics such as subject provision and uptake, popular subject combinations, trends over time in the uptake of particular subjects and the examination attainment of different groups of candidates. The National Pupil Database (NPD) is the source of most of these reports. This is a very large longitudinal database, owned by the Department for Education, which tracks the examination attainment of all pupils within schools in England from their early years up to Key Stage 5 (A level or equivalent). Another database, the Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC), can be requested matched to the NPD. This contains background information on candidates such as deprivation indicators, language, ethnicity and special educational needs. Other sources of data used to produce the Statistics Reports include the Inter-Awarding Body Statistics produced by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). This article highlights some of the most recent Statistics Reports, published between 2010 and 2011.

2011

Going beyond the syllabus: A study of A level Mathematics teachers and students.
Suto, I., Elliott, G., Rushton, N., and Mehta, S. (2011) Educational Studies.
What form of feedback most motivates students? A study of teachers' perceptions of the Impact of assessment
Rushton, N., Suto, I., Elliott. and Mehta, S. (2011). Paper presented at the AEA-Europe annual conference, Belfast, November 2011.
Independent research at A level: students' and teachers' experiences
Mehta, S., Suto, I., Elliott, G. and Rushton, N. (2011). Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association annual conference, University of London Institute of Education, September 2011.
Going beyond the syllabus: views from teachers and students of A level mathematics
Suto, I., Elliott, G., Rushton, N. and Mehta, S. (2011). Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association annual conference, University of London Institute of Education, September 2011.
Small is beautiful? An exploration of class size at A level
Rushton, N., Suto, I., Elliott, G. and Mehta, S. (2011). Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association annual conference, University of London Institute of Education, September 2011.
100 years of controversy over standards: making sense of the issues
Elliott, G. (2011) British Educational Research Association (BERA), London
Lessons from the past: An overview of the issues raised on the 1911 'Report of the Consultative Committee on Examinations in Secondary Schools'

Elliott, G. (2011). Lessons from the past: An overview of the issues raised on the 1911 'Report of the Consultative Committee on Examinations in Secondary Schools'. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 12, 2-7.

This article celebrates the 100th anniversary of the publication 'Examinations in Secondary Schools' by reviewing its contents in the light of issues faced in present day. Ten key issues were identified from the 1911 report, nearly all of which are still subject to current debate. A huge wealth of detail in the 1911 report makes for extremely interesting reading alongside records from recent times. Tracing the outcomes of decisons made into policy and practice, with the benefit of hindsight, can provide an illumiating source of evidence to add to current educational debate.

Why study Economics? Perspectives from 16 to 19 year old students
Mehta, S., Suto, I., Elliott, G. and Rushton, N. (2013). Paper presented at the International Association for Citizenship, Social and Economics Education annual conference, Bath Spa University, June 2013.
Why study economics? Perspectives from 16 to 19 year old students
Mehta, S., Suto, I., Elliott, G. and Rushton, N. (2011) Citizenship, Social and Economics Education

2008

Assessment Instruments over Time
Elliott, G., Black, B. Ireland, J., Gill, T., Bramley, T. Johnson, N. and Curcin, M. (2008) International Association for Educational Assessment (IAEA) Conference, Cambridge
All the right letters - just not necessarily in the right order. Spelling errors in a sample of GCSE English scripts
Elliott, G. and Johnson, N. (2008) British Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference

2003

Finding a proper role for human judgement in the examination system.
Pollitt, A. and Elliott, G. (2003) Qualifications and Curriculum Authority Seminar on 'Standards and Comparability'
Monitoring and investigating comparability: a proper role for human judgement
Pollitt, A. and Elliott, G. (2003) Qualifications and Curriculum Authority Seminar on 'Standards and Comparability'

2002

A Comparability Study in GCE AS Chemistry Including parts of the Scottish Higher Grade Examinations
Greatorex, J., Elliott, G. and Bell, J. F. (2002) A review of the examination requirements and a report on the cross moderation exercise. [A study based on the Summer 2001 Examination and organised by the Research and Evaluation Division, UCLES for OCR on behalf of the Joint Council for General Qualifica
A fair comparison? The evolution of methods of comparability in national assessment
Elliott, G. and Greatorex, J. (2002) Educational Studies, 28, 3, 253-264
Back to the future: A methodology for comparing old A level and new AS standards
Elliott, G., Greatorex, J., Forster, M., and Bell, J.F. (2002) Educational Studies, 28, 2, 163-180

1996

Aspects of Writing in 16+ English examinations between 1980 and 1994
Massey, A.J and Elliott, G.L. (1996). Cambridge Assessment Research Report. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Assessment.

Season of birth, sex and success in GCSE English, Mathematics and Science: some long lasting effects from the early years
Massey, A.J., Elliott, G. and Ross, E. (1996) Research Papers in Education, 11, 2, 129-150

Research Matters

Research Matters

Research Matters is our free biannual publication which allows us to share our assessment research, in a range of fields, with the wider assessment community.