Students' perceptions of studying for GCSE and their relationship with attainment
Research into higher education has demonstrated the importance of the backwash effect of assessment on learning. Given these findings, of concern is the neglect of research that explores students' perceptions of studying for GCSE and the impact this has on attainment. Neither has research considered whether pupils' experiences of studying alter as they progress through the two-year course. As part of a two-year longitudinal proj ect, 1074 GCSE pupils drawn from eight schools responded to a range of statements about their perceptions of studying for GCSE. The schools encompassed pupils who could be regarded as high, middle and low achievers drawn from co-educational and single sex schools. In addition, twenty focus group interviews were carried out during the two-year period to enable greater insight into students' experiences of studying for GCSE. Evidence of adaptive and maladaptive perceptions of studying was apparent. Pupils reported concerns with time management in relation to balancing the demands of coursework, homework and examination preparation; overload; uncertainty of the requirements of GCSE; knowing what and how to revise; and a lack of support from teachers in scaffolding their learning process. Where pupils perceived studying for GCSE to be concerned with understanding, there was a significant positive relationship with GCSE attainment. By contrast, where pupils' experiences were of an ambivalent perception of studying, as characterised by a lack of interest, there was a significant negative relationship with GCSE attainment. There was no relationship between perceptions of studying concerned with strategic self-management, as illustrated by question spotting, with attainment. Students who recognised the effort required in studying and sought to utilise appropriate study strategies did better than those who did not.