A Level History Ocr Coursework Definition

A leading figure in history teaching has backed claims from A-level pupils that their exam marks have been unfairly lowered.

Sean Lang, author of history text books and former examiner, assessed three examples of A-level history coursework sent into BBC News Online and said examiners' decisions had been "outrageous".


This former examiner is looking at this in the light of his experience with the old A-level


OCR spokesman

History coursework submitted by Suffolk pupil, Hilary Corke, had been marked as ungraded by the OCR exam board - and as a result she risks missing out on her intended university place.

But Mr Lang, who has been a setter of exams, a senior exam moderator and former secretary of the Historical Association, said that this mark was "grossly unjust".

Although emphasising the difficulty in judging individual papers out of context, he said that her coursework should have been given either an A or B grade.

'Bizarre'

"The diplomatic way of describing the ungraded mark would be to say that it is bizarre. It is simply wrong, inaccurate. You have to question the competence of this."


She was angry, and right to be angry. It's a very serious business. Her future could depend on this. A university place could be lost - and her choices could narrow


Reverend Rod Corke, parent of A-level student

Two other examples of disputed history A-level coursework, from Tom Underwood and Duncan Whitmore, he also said deserved much higher marks than the E grades they were awarded.

And in a damning verdict, Mr Lang, said that the exam boards had shown "utter incompetence" in the problems that were coming to light over A-level marking.

"There has been some very odd and uneven marking, but there should be a system to even out such inconsistencies and to pick up erratic marking."

Full inquiry

A former head of history at a leading sixth form college, Mr Lang said that there should be a full inquiry into the current complaints.


I was offered a place at Selwyn College, Cambridge to read history, but because of the low coursework mark, I did not get the grade needed


Tom Underwood, A-level candidate

The low mark for coursework for Hilary Corke, from Felixstowe, dragged down her overall grade to a D - and her father says that she has been left feeling "helpless, disappointed and angry".

Her teachers, echoing the verdict of Mr Lang, have told her that her coursework is worth much more than ungraded.

And as other pupils at the school taking history were unexpectedly marked as ungraded, the school is appealing against the results.

'Injustice'

"She was angry, and right to be angry. It's a very serious business. Her future could depend on this. A university place could be lost - and her choices could narrow," said her father, Rod Corke, a Church of England vicar.

"We're not pushy parents. But a great injustice has been done here."

Eamonn O'Kane is concerned that individual pupils will suffer in the confusion over results

In the case of Tom Underwood, who studied at Old Swinford Hospital in Stourbridge, the E grade for coursework could cost him his university place.

"I was offered a place at Selwyn College, Cambridge to read history, but because of the low coursework mark, I did not get the grade needed. I have scored three other A-grades at A-level," Tom Underwood wrote in an e-mail to BBC News Online.

This disputed coursework has been re-marked, but the new mark is not substantially higher.

Mr Lang is unambiguous in saying that this marking is unreasonably harsh - saying that, in his opinion, a B grade would be more appropriate.

But a spokesman for the OCR board said critics were failing to take account of the fact that the new A2 exams were very different to the old A-levels.

"This former examiner is looking at this in the light of his experience with the old A-level - the new A2 is significantly harder and you have to do significantly better," the spokesman said.

"And thousands of children have achieved A grades in coursework and in the final award."

Angry e-mails

The dispute over coursework marking, which is subject to an official investigation this week, has sparked large numbers of angry e-mails from teachers, pupils and parents.

These have shown many similar stories from students who have scored very high marks on every section apart from coursework - which has been awarded very low grades.

And there have been suggestions that there were problems with coursework from last year.

James Blythe, now a student at Oxford, was given a D grade for coursework in his history A-level last year - in contrast to much higher marks for other parts of the exam.

But the leader of a teachers' union, and former history teacher, Eamonn O'Kane, who has looked at this coursework, says that this mark does not reflect the quality of the work.

Again, with the caution that exams taken in isolation cannot be easily assessed, he says that a D grade is much too low - and he suggests that a B might be more appropriate.

With concerns mounting about A-level grades, he says that he is worried about the problems faced by young people caught up in this dispute.

"I'm very concerned that individual pupils will suffer as a result of this," said Mr O'Kane, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers.

And if there have been attempts to toughen the marking to compensate for too many students getting top grades in the AS and A2 system, he says this should not be at the expense of individual pupils.

Have you had problems with A-level results? Tell us your experiences using the form below

Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

We didn't study the Holocaust as it wasn't part of our A2 Germany syllabus so I haven't studied the Holocaust since Year 9 but with regard to your structure;

Start with a statement of intent so if you agree with the statement word it around that, if you disagree base your intro about that.
I.e. "The Holocaust was part of a pre-determined Nazi plan which had been at the NSDAP's roots since Hitler ascended to become leader of the party in 1921. We can see evidence of this intent in Hitler's book, Mein Kampf..."

Then go on to briefly outline what and how you are going to argue for and against this (all of this in your first paragraph/ introduction).

Throughout the essay you must then go through each of your points in detail. Don't forget to mention dates, names, conference, support for, support against, who supported, who didn't, the international reaction, etc.

For maximum impact your conclusion should resemble your introduction. I.e. "The NSDAP had long-planned to exterminate those whom they saw as 'in-human'. The Wannsee Conference goes to show just how committed to the total extermination of the Jews that Nazis really were, their plan could not have been conceived during one conference thus reinforcing the view that the NSDAP had a pre-determined plan to irradiate the Jews."

Does that make sense?

Your teachers should be able to give you examples and explain how you should structure your essays. If they don't then just ask them and I'm sure that they will help you.

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