Research Matters 25

  • Research Matters 25 - Foreword

    Oates, T. (2018). Foreword. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 25, 1. 

    The topics covered in this issue of Research Matters seem like a microcosm of education, which is forever seeking stability and yet permanently in transformation. We have theory which explains this state of affairs: Critical realism tells us that in social systems, such as education, things will only happen on a predictable basis when all the factors impinging on it are stable.

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  • Research Matters 25 - Editorial

    Bramley, T. (2018). Editorial. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 25, 1.

    There is currently much interest in the ‘21st century’ or ‘transversal’ skills that young people need to acquire in order to be ready for the workplace and life in general.  Among these is ‘reflection’.  Like many of the transversal skills, it is difficult to define and even more difficult to assess.

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  • An exploration of the nature and assessment of student reflection

    Shaw, S., Kuvalja, M. and Suto, I. (2018). An exploration of the nature and assessment of student reflection. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 25, 2-8.

    Reflection is often considered to be one of the so-called ‘21st century’ or ‘transversal’ skills, or ‘life competencies’. Many societies value people who can reflect upon their own beliefs and experiences in the classroom and beyond, and learn from them. It is also important to be able to contemplate the work of others at a deep level. In this article, we review some of the academic literature on reflection and explore ways in which it is assessed in educational contexts. The Advanced Subsidiary (AS) level qualification in Global Perspectives and Research offered by Cambridge Assessment International Education serves as a case study for how reflection can be assessed as part of a taught curriculum.

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  • When can a case be made for using fixed pass marks?

    Bramley, T. (2018). When can a case be made for using fixed pass marks? Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 25, 8-13.

    Using fixed pass marks (e.g., “To pass you must gain 70% of the available marks”) has many attractions in some assessment contexts, (e.g., on-demand testing).  The obvious drawback to using fixed pass marks is that it does not allow for the fact that test forms may vary in difficulty despite best efforts to construct or design them to be similar.  The aims of the research described in this article were to investigate how serious a problem this might be in practice, and to explore the extent to which it could be alleviated by using expert judgement in the test construction process.

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  • Insights into teacher moderation of marks on high-stakes non-examined assessments

    Crisp, V. (2018). Insights into teacher moderation of marks on high-stakes non-examined assessments. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 25, 14-20.

    Where teachers assess their students’ work for high-stakes purposes, their judgements are standardised through professional discussions with their colleagues - a process often known as internal moderation. This process is important to the reliability of results as any inconsistencies in the marking standards applied by different teachers within a school department can be problematic.
    This research used interviews, a questionnaire and observations of mock internal moderation sessions to explore internal moderation practices in the context of school-based work contributing to high-stakes assessments. Teachers’ discussions focused on the location and sufficiency of relevant evidence in student work. This, along with reference to the mark scheme and discussing the meaning of assessment criteria, is consistent with Cook and Brown’s (1999) notion of tacit knowledge being made explicit and helping to create and refine ways of knowing. Thus, internal moderation acts as professional development for teachers as well as providing quality assurance. Around a quarter of teachers appear not to have opportunities to participate in internal moderation. Moderation by teachers is reported to be infrequently influenced by group dynamics, is thought to remove any personal bias, and teachers tended to report that the process worked well.




     

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  • Which students benefit from retaking Mathematics and English GCSEs post-16?

    Vidal Rodeiro, C.L. (2018). Which students benefit from retaking Mathematics and English GCSEs post-16? Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 25, 21-28.

    Changes to the funding policy for 16-19-year-old students in UK state-funded schools and colleges and the reform of post-16 accountability measures are likely to have had an impact on entries for all types of qualifications in Key Stage 5, but in particular for GCSEs in English and Mathematics. The 2015/16 academic year was the first in which it became a condition of colleges' funding that students who had previously achieved a D grade in English or Mathematics should retake the qualification. As a result, the overall number of entries among students aged 17 and over increased. However, educational bodies across the sector have been recently calling for a change in the GCSE English and Mathematics resits policy.
    The aim of this research is to contribute to the discussion on the GCSE English and Mathematics resits policy by investigating the uptake of GCSEs in English and Mathematics in post-16 schools and colleges in England, and the types of students who are more likely to improve their grades as a result of resitting the qualifications.

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  • How many students will get straight grade 9s in reformed GCSEs?

    Benton, T. (2018). How many students will get straight grade 9s in reformed GCSEs? Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 25, 28-36.

    This article describes an attempt to predict the number of students that will achieve straight grade 9s in reformed GCSEs. The prediction is based upon an analysis of unreformed GCSE and international GCSEs from the cohort completing Key Stage 4 in 2016. Several methods are applied and evaluated against the number of candidates known to have achieved straight grade 9s in the three subjects that were reformed before examination in summer 2017. The results suggest that, of those candidates taking at least 8 GCSEs, between 200 and 900 will achieve straight grade 9s. Furthermore, we predict that more than 2,000 students will achieve a perfect score in their Attainment 8 accountability measure.

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  • How do you solve a problem like transition? A qualitative evaluation of additional support classes at three university biology departments

    Child, S., Mehta, S., Wilson, F., Suto, I. and Brown, S. (2018). How do you solve a problem like transition? A qualitative evaluation of additional support classes at three university biology departments. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 25, 36-44.

    Some university Biology departments have introduced additional support classes for students who struggle with the transition from school or college to higher education. In this study, classes at three contrasting British universities were investigated. The structure and content of the classes were compared, and the reasons for introducing the classes were explored. Data collection comprised linked observation and interview methods from three stakeholder perspectives: lecturer, undergraduate, and teacher. The research contributed to the evidence base that determined what was required to improve the transition to university for first-year undergraduates. This article discusses the transitional challenges identified by the different stakeholders in relation to the recently completed reforms to A level qualifications in the Sciences.

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  • Research News

    Barden, K. (2018). Research News. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 25, 46-48.

    A summary of recent conferences and seminars, statistics reports, Data Bytes and research articles published since the last issue of Research Matters.

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