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Title: The assessment and reform of GCSEs : the views and experiences of students in Northern Ireland and Wales
Author: Barrance, Rhian Mari
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 3241
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2017
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Following major reforms to the assessment and grading of GCSEs since 2010, there are now significant differences between the ways that GCSEs can be assessed across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. However, there has been very little consultation with young people regarding these issues. This thesis used a mixed-methods design to investigate student views and experiences of GCSEs and their reform in Northern Ireland and Wales. It used a children’s rights-based methodology by working with young people as research advisors, collaborating with them on the development of two questionnaires and focus group schedules. Over 1600 students were surveyed and 20 focus groups were conducted. Students’ views were sought on a wide range of issues, including assessment features such as controlled assessment, modularity and tiering. The research found that there was little appetite for further changes to the qualifications, with concern raised about the end of three-country regulation of GCSEs and the .consequences of this decision for students in Northern Ireland and Wales. In terms of specific assessment features, the findings suggest that there is a relatively high level of support among students for retaining tiering, modularity and controlled assessment. However, students also expressed concern about aspects of them. Many of these reservations relate to differences in the administration of these features in different settings, suggesting that the level of variation has considerable implications for the fairness and validity of GCSEs. Students also asserted that they wanted a greater degree of choice over aspects of their GCSEs, such as the tiers and course structures to which they are entered. This research broadens our understanding of GCSE assessment and reform by seeking the views of those at the centre of the assessment process. In doing so, it also provided students with a space to express their opinions on these matters.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available