Learning from GCSE coursework

Alan Reid, Mark Jones

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticleResearch

2 Citations (Scopus)


Our findings suggest that teachers, parents and students value the skills of CCI and that coursework has an important role in giving students opportunities to develop and demonstrate them. In contrast to recent political thinking (e.g. NACCCE), the study shows that the development and demonstration of CCI does not require the abandonment of existing approaches to learning, or their replacement by new ones. GCSE coursework is typically viewed as an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary change to learning practices. Substantial change in the approaches to learning of students of all abilities does not occur, although the significance, value and intensification of current approaches are well recognised, particularly in the amount of time now spent on coursework. While the students in the study recognise that coursework fosters creative exchanges of ideas and approaches to learning, these benefits are not transferred readily to other situations. On the one hand, the skills associated with CCI are important in producing good quality coursework. On the other, evidence from all of the research groups indicates that such process skills are of secondary importance to the goal of achieving a good GCSE grade for coursework. Getting 'marks in the bank' (students), constraints from assessment criteria (teachers), and pressure from accountability, e.g. league tables (parents and teachers), all promote the importance of maximising students' grades. Such high stakes factors increasingly influence the practice of completing coursework to the extent that the promotion of CCI is of a second order of value. Whilst the status quo is not likely to change in the short term, our study suggests that for teachers and other stakeholders, it would be appropriate to redress the balance so that greater attention is given to the process of GCSE coursework, not only as an end in itself, but also in enhancing the product.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Specialist publicationTeaching Geography
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes

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