Marking Paper 2 AQA A Level - What I've Learned...

 Marking Paper 2 AQA A Level - What I've Learned...
Posted: Monday, July 10, 2017 @ 08:35 PM
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Just finished marking Paper 2 AQA for A Level. Here is what I've found and thought I'd share:

1. Nearly every centre I marked did Families and Beliefs (I had one of Identity with Belief and another with Family and Media). Unsurprisingly, this gave a real spread of results with some excellent answers and some not so great ones.

2. The 10 markers really caught students out and are much more harshly marked than I thought. I am being far too generous with these and I have to tighten up next year. The key for these questions is the quality of the explanation (or analysis as AQA puts it). Large paragraphs with evaluation don't yield many marks. So for the families question, evaluating the impact of migration on structures gets nothing neither does evaluating the extent to which gender roles are more equal get you any marks for the first question.

3. The explanation for the 10 markers needs to be really developed. It needs to be a decent paragraph fully explained and linked to the question. A really good answer can still get 7 marks, but it needs to fully address what is being asked and use key terminology and sociological ideas (rather than just listing sociologists). So for the first beliefs question - they were looking for a recognition that some groups experience alienation (key term) as a result of being marginalised, sects offer a theodicy of disprivilege (another key term) to deal with the effects of alienation by providing a monopoly on the truth (another key term), which helps to resolve alienation and make said members feel part of a community. A mention of Wallis or Wilson would easily push that into 8 marks. It is linking the points together that they want. Evaluating whether sects do provide that theodicy or are viewed with suspicion is great evaluation but not what they are looking for.

4. The 10 mark item questions really must have a reason that can be applied from the Item. It also needs to be a different reason - e.g. beliefs could have been Liberation Theology or Civil Rights Movement. The application also needs to be correct - so New Christian Right did not change society (it failed as many students correctly pointed out - so why use it!?) Fundamentalism hasn't really changed society that much in the way that Civil Rights have (e.g. airport scanners not really in the same league as the Civil Rights Act). Fundamentalism really needed to be linked more to Iran (overthrow of the Shah) or Afghanistan (rise of Taliban). The Webb books are better on this.

5. Very few students did well on the 20 Mark religion question. Needed to be more focused on the debate between science and religion. Secularisation (where many headed off on), needed to be linked to role religion plays today. The same is true of the disenchantment idea. Generally, students who mentioned open and closed beliefs, Popper, Kuhn, paradigms, etc., got better marks.

6. The structure that seems to allow for more marks is PEAH. The however bit, allows students to evaluate the paragraph they've made - which provides 'limited explicit evaluation', which if developed in the subsequent paragraph can really push up marks. PEEL essays are at risk of being juxtaposition (e.g. one paragraph on functionalism, one on Marxism, one on feminism) - it is the debate/argument they are looking for here.

7. Following on from Point 6 - the focus on the debate means that students do not need to know loads and loads of sociologists. This did come out quite clearly from marking - the best essays were the ones who knew two-three sociologists for one perspective (e.g. Parsons and Murdock for functionalism) and two-three sociologists who would criticise this (e.g. Dobash, Firestone, Engles, Zareksty) and say why. This made a much better argument, especially when used in the PEAH model (e.g. Outline Parsons' warm bath idea in the PEA bit and then use Ansey in the H bit to criticise).


8. I am going to be teaching technique more than content. I focused too much on ensuring my students knew everything rather than one-two decent PEAH points per topic.


Hope this helps

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 08:51 AM
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Thanks  - that is really interesting and helpful.  Just a couple of questions - what does PEAH stand for?  also any learning from the media questions??  Thanks

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 09:15 AM
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1. PEAH = Point, Evidence, Analyse, However - the final bit encourages evaluation within each paragraph, whilst providing a link to the next paragraph and building an essay. You end up with a much more sophisticated writing style if practised. Stops the structure of 'oh here is all my points on Functionalism, here are all the points on Marxism and then a paragraph criticising them both'.


2. Media - for the 20 Marker, the better answers differed between the Marxist perspectives and had a debate within this (instrumentalist and deterministic perspective). Some began to consider the issue of fake news and the role of social media. Only had 10 scripts maximum on Media. Most were Beliefs for this section.

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 09:28 AM
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Thank you for sharing this. This has been most helpful and will change my technique for 10 markers. Reading your feedback suggests to me that I may have been too over generous when marking 10 markers. The 10 Markers have proven difficult and AQA have not really provided enough guidance on these. 

Your tip for the 10 markers is great, and one which I will be stealing.

Many Thanks. 

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 10:14 AM
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That's useful to hear. We do use the PEEL structure but make it clear they should have a PEEL paragraph which supports the view in the question, then a PEEL paragraph which evaluates the previous paragraph, i.e. PEEL (AO1) then PEEL (AO3).

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 10:46 AM
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So is it pointless including evaluation in the analyse question then? It's been included on all sample answers and mark schemes provided by AQA.

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 11:23 AM
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For the Beliefs Q1 about why people join sects, evaluating whether or not status frustration is/is not important would get very little, if any credit.

It is more about the quality of the analysis/explanation they are looking for. I have gone through pages and pages of evaluation on changing gender roles but unless it linked back to childhood it yielded nothing. One of the standardisation scripts appeared brilliant and I gave it a high mark, but fell down as it wasn't relevant to the Q. Eval is more important for the 20 markers.

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 12:00 PM
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Okay, thanks Ben. So analysis is more important, and evaluation is only worthwhile if it's really relevant to the question. I think AQA need to be a little more clear on this, I can see a great deal of variation in results being caused by these new 10 markers.

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 12:15 PM
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thanks Ben for your feedback

am I right in remembering that outline and briefly explain breaks down to AO1 5; AO2 3; AO3 2 so I am not surprised they are not crediting eval/analysi

likewise in the applying 10 marker it breaks down to AO1 3; AO2 4; AO3 3 so you need to focus less on K&U and more on app and you need more eval/analysis but it must be explicit to scenario.


Craig


Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 12:31 PM
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Hi Craig,

Can't remember the exact AO breakdowns but that chimes with what I recall and how I was told to mark.

However, we marked using the bands rather than awarding marks for each AO (a change from the previous Spec).

The 10 markers were generally poor. Most could get into 4-7 but struggled to get to the top or out of the band. Didn't help with the second 10 marker that many students paid little attention to the Item. They needed to find the two separate factors and develop using own K + U. I had lots with families who talked about migrants putting pressure on housing or helping dependency ratios but didn't link to the question on structure of families.

Most didn't actually focus on the Question, which didn't help. The new spec wants less on knowledge and more on application of it. Hence long lists of sociologists don't always yield good marks.

There are also subtle differences in the mark scheme for Section A and Section B too. Generally, many also spent far too long on Section A, which will hit with that final 20 marker - especially Beliefs as many were stumped by it.


Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 12:56 PM
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I find the idea of marking in bands to be counter-intuitive even though I acknowledge that's what the board do!  Most students can meet the top band comment for AO1 but often hit next band comment for app and possibly middle band comment for eval and analysis


Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 01:38 PM
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From speaking to colleagues who are marking for the exam board, they too have emphasised the importance of application, in terms of actually ensuring everything in the answer answers all parts of the question. For instance the 10 marker on education which was about the effects of INCREASED PARENTAL CHOICE on PUPILS' EXPERIENCE OF EDUCATION, the answers given had to link to both parental choice and pupils' experience, e.g. league tables have resulted in an A-C economy, but they had to explicitly say how this has affected pupils' experience of education.

Is that what you have found as well?

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 08:28 PM
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Yes, exactly so.

Your example of the Education paper applies to Paper 2. The number of students who spoke about changing gender roles but NO LINK to experience of childhood was enormous. Many students wrote accurate points, but gave little thought to the question.

Posted: Wednesday, July 12, 2017 @ 05:56 PM
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Thanks so much for this invaluable insight.  Will be reading and re-reading all your points.  You mention key terms - is there a list given for each exam/question? Would be useful to know where AQA lists these. Thanks.


Posted: Wednesday, July 12, 2017 @ 05:58 PM
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Eval is credited, but depends how you do it- and would only need to be short and sweet. 

Eg.  evaluation of gender roles would obviously not get credit as the q was about childhood.  If you evaluated the effect on childhood that would be fine- but you have to keeo to the same way/same reason otherwise it is seen as drifting off.  So evaluating by saying the effect actually isn't that it is something would be seen as being unfocussed.tu


For example,  if you wrote about extended families as a result of migration, it would need to be conceptual and explain why Asian families are more likely to be extended.  Then if the student had written something about how that type of family is becoming less common as no longer needed due to adjusting to migration and that many now still see extended as important- live close by, but not under same roof.

That would get credit.

Key is analysis stays on the topic area. 

But analysis is considering effects/consequences of something in this case- so evaluation with a completely contrasting reason does not get credit.

Disagree with Ben about the Science q- some students have not used theories of Science very well in terms of applying it to influence.  You could get a top mark without this.  In fact, you could get a very high mark with a one sided answer that focussed mainly on the importance of religion.

Posted: Thursday, July 13, 2017 @ 08:47 AM
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Hi Anice,


That's interesting re the 20 mark religion question. I can see why a good 1 sided argument would get high marks and would have credited accordingly. However, my centres were generally very poor and most ended up making unsubstantiated or basic points on either religion or science. I think I did give a few top band marks that did a focused piece using Weber, Bruce, Davie etc., but only if these were developed more into a coherent argument rather than a smattering of points.

I don't think it helped much that many students didn't plan properly. Most clearly had gone over on Section A (I had some Families essays that were almost have the booklet), ran out of time and panicked.

I would agree with the evaluation point you make for the 10 markers. Again, I found that many had just got a contrasting paragraph that did not link anywhere.

My gut feeling is that the perception of Sociology might change after these results. I can only speak for myself here, but I've always tended to battle with colleagues who are dismissive of the course as easy (it is usually the course where they 'can't fit people). Clearly, there is an increase in sophistication of writing style needed for the new course.

Posted: Friday, July 14, 2017 @ 10:23 AM
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Yes, although I feel the difficult 10 markers just elicited basic responses with little sociology in them.  

Also, the lack of choice meant students perforrmed poorly on the Science q- lack of concepts and theory again!

I was shocked at the quality of responses compared to previous years- very basic Sociology in my opinion.

I'm not sure if it will change anything, surely boundaries will just go lower.

Time will tell I suppose.

Posted: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 02:06 PM
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Also marked this paper and found it a little disheartening giving such low marks to students on the ten markers. Some students had detailed sociological knowledge, used key concepts and theories but because of the lack of application to both aspects of the question didn't get out of the bottom band, but on the other hand students with far more limited knowledge who had read the question carefully and applied the knowledge they had effectively got into the middle band.

Just wondering if anyone had reference made to different expectations for year 1 content (AS) in comparison to year 2 content (Old A2)?