Physics Teaching

December 1, 2009

Feedback on AS Physics

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — ianhardiman @ 2:57 pm

If you’re doing the new OCR A course at AS and A2, this will be a useful post for you! I attended the feedback meeting the chief examiners meeting and here is a summary of what was said. There was a lot of grumbling, especially about the practical assessments. Have a read of this and see what you think…

For a student to get an “A*” they need both an “A” grade on A-level aggregation and at least 270 UMS on their A2 units.
In G481 (Mechanics) and G482 (Electrons, Waves & Photons) there is a target in terms of number of marks for different question types. Without going into details this means that 6 out of the 60 marks for G481 are for extended writing style questions whereas 20-25 marks are allocated for this in the G482 paper. Potentially ¼ of the paper could involve extended writing. The examiners were keen to stress that continuous prose was not required and bullet points are the preferred method providing they followed a logical sequence. Also, the use of diagrams is encouraged – “a picture’s worth a thousand words”
The way in which QWC marks are awarded in the 2 papers is different. For G481 the QWC marks are awarded for spelling a technical term. “Satellite” and “gradient” were used in the summer exam last year and the Chief Examiner promised that this year’s words would be much easier! In G482, there are no marks for spelling; the QWC marks are awarded for constructing a logical argument.
This year the G482 paper will be later in the year (17th June was the date tentatively put forward) and the summer G481 will definitely be on a different day.
For students who struggle with rearranging equations: 1)Select equation, 2) Substitute values, 3) Now rearrange, 4)Calculate answer. This is probably something you all do anyway but I’m definitely going to follow this order strictly from now on. It guarantees some marks even if manipulating the equation all goes wrong.
Both the examiners were disappointed with the student’s knowledge of the various definitions. Apparently only 10% knew the definition of “intensity” (but the examiner who said this was a glass-half-empty type so I think he was exaggerating!) Word equations were considered the best way of answering “define” questions, writing symbol equations and defining terms = waste of time. Use of “over” is not accepted e.g. “Resistance is equal to the potential difference over the current” but writing this as a word equation would score full marks. One of the examiners (who also taught) used a card game to practise definitions throughout the year.
Both examiners were disappointed with the use of the data booklet-students didn’t seem to know what was there and what wasn’t. For example, lots got the conversion from years to seconds wrong even though it’s given in the booklet. Malus’s law should be in the booklet but isn’t and won’t be since they’ve already printed enough up for the next few years. I will get some copies of the booklet printed up and I think it would be a good idea if we issued these and used them as much as possible.
G482 will be following a general pattern of having three electricity questions, three waves questions and 1 quantum physics question.

Feedback on AS Physics – G483 – The Practicals

The examiners were keen to thank everyone who has been involved in administering the practicals and apologised for some of the markschemes, especially the light bulbs qualitative task.
There were lots of very cross Physics teachers whose student’s had been marked down, in some cases by large numbers of marks. One school in particular had their practical marks knocked down by 11 marks and G483 is only out of 40. Nationally ~25% of schools had been marked down and a much smaller proportion had been marked up. The general feeling was that those who had been marked down had been marked down too much and without clear reason. It turns out that this was a process done by a computer program called Moderation Manager which the examiners admitted they had been having problems with. Last year the moderator said if anything we were marking a little harshly – it seems like this was a good move as the moderating down was pretty severe.
There is a +/- 3 marks tolerance so if the moderator is in agreement with our marks within this tolerance, then our mark stands.
The examiners stressed the need for lots of clear annotations and indications of where marks have been awarded.
The examiners asked that when extra graph paper is used we copy the page out of that particular paper so that the grid is the same size.
Although we are not allowed to show the students their papers (or even old ones that aren’t used any longer) or mark schemes, we are allowed to talk them through the general points. With his students, the Chief examiner would have their paper in front of him and go through “general” things they got wrong first time around. For example, he might tell them that in future they must draw a bigger triangle when working out a gradient or give results to 3 sig figs.
Lots of marks were dropped because of lack of detail. The example given was students writing things like “…should have used a light gate” and not explaining why a light gate should be used or what it should be used to do. A similar thing was said about justifying the number of significant figures in a result.


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: