The Extended Project Qualification David MacKay QCA 1 July 2009
Background • The 14-19 White Paper (DfES, February 2005) set out the Government’s intention to offer an extended project to stretch all young people at advanced level and test a wider range of skills. This was described as: ‘a single piece of work, requiring a high degree of planning, preparation and autonomous working. The projects would differ by subjects, but require persistence over time and research skills to explore a subject independently and in real depth’. 2
Views of HE admissions tutors on A level students Nuffield Review Higher Education Focus Groups – Preliminary Report (February 2006) “They struggle to cope with the more independent and self-directed style of learning expected by higher education tutors. Valuable time is lost at the beginning of HE courses developing independent learning skills that should have been developed, at least to an extent, already.” “…learning and assessment at Level 3 needs to place greater emphasis on what might be seen as rather traditional virtues: the ability to read critically, to communicate ideas in writing (which means using appropriate and grammatically correct language) and to argue a case.”
Broad aims of the extended project qualification • To provide a ‘tool kit’ of skills that better prepare students for higher education and employment • To develop students as critical, independent learners • To be sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of all students • To be inclusive and present no barriers to any students
Criteria development Students: • choose their own topic and plan their project • carry out research and select and use resources • develop the project to achieve their intended outcomes • carry out a full evaluation • present their findings and respond to questions 5
Criteria development • The project may have as its outcome: • a report of an investigation • a dissertation • an artefact • a performance • Projects may involve group projects, but the individual’s role needs to be clearly identified 6
“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results” Sir Winston Churchill The Extended Project was piloted from 2006-2008 by AQA (with City & Guilds) and Edexcel
Purposes of the pilot • Introduce a brand new qualification under controlled conditions • Allow amendments to be made more easily • Establish a robust standard • Ensure all awarding bodies worked to the same standard • Identify any problems with delivery • Inform the production of guidance
Characteristics of the extended project • The extended project is a free-standing qualification and may be taken by any students • It is a mandatory component of the Advanced Diploma • It is equivalent in size to about half of an A level • The grading is A*-E • It carries UCAS points as follows: • A* 70 points • A 60 points • B 50 points • C 40 points • D 30 points • E 20 points 9
Teachers’ involvement in the delivery of projects Teachers' involvement is: • to deliver the taught element, including the teaching of research skills, critical thinking skills, ethical issues, etc, and advising on project management • to support students in selecting their title and scoping the project to ensure that they will meet the criteria • to monitor student progress to ensure that they remain on target to complete the project by the due date • to mark the project (this will be externally moderated by the awarding body) • to authenticate the work as that of the student
Assessment of the extended Project The following aspects are assessed: • identifying, designing and planning the project • selecting, organising and using a range of resources; analysing data, applying findings and demonstrating understanding of any linkages, connections and complexities of the topic • selecting and using a range of skills to take decisions critically and achieve planned outcomes • evaluating all aspects of the project; using a range of communication skills and media to present the outcomes of the project 11
When to take the extended project There is flexibility as to when students take the Extended Project. For example, it may be positioned: • as a culminating activity at the end of a two-year programme • towards the end of the first year of a two-year programme • to run over the end of the first year and the start of the second year of a two-year programme Students should be advised to target completion of the extended project • in their second year since they will have increased maturity and are likely to have developed their skills to a greater extent • at a time well removed from submission dates/examinations for other assessments in their programme to avoid conflicting pressures • at a time that will allow them to include reference to it in their UCAS application form 12
Information and guidance on the extended project • Information leaflets: • Extended project – guidance leaflet for teachers • Extended project – guidance leaflet for higher education • Guidance for managers: • Guidance on Preparing for the Delivery of Level 1 and Level 2 Projects and Level 3 Extended Projects • Guidance for practitioners: • an Introduction to Level 3 Extended Projects • an Introduction to the Level 2 Project • an Introduction to the Level 1 Project • Further guidance for practitioners (published in April 2009): • Checklist for tutors delivering projects All documents may be downloaded at: www.qca.org.uk/qca_18461.aspx
Examples of projects • An investigation of the changes in architecture that took place over the years at Lilleshall Abbey • Anti-Bullying – What is bullying and what are its factors? • Are ASBOs an effective method of solving antisocial behaviour? • Can science explain the nature of happiness? • Can we justify scientific research on animals? • Choreography based on slavery • Creating a database with an automatic ordering facility when stocks reach a certain level • Evolution of women’s fashion & changing views of female figure • How does Irish folk music reflect the social, political and economic history of Ireland? (CD of 10 pieces) • How has English affected the German language?
Examples of projects continued • How has life improved for black South Africans since the demise of apartheid? • How important is body image in society today? • How have advances in technology affected globalisation? • Is digital switch over akin to decimalisation? • Is graffiti art or vandalism? • Is surgery the answer to cosmetic defects? • Origins of animal life - God or Science? • Performing - Elton John (The student planned and put on a performance of Elton John's work, writing his own arrangements for performance by various ensembles) • Should the voting age be lowered to 16? • What is the best solution to the quantum mechanical measurement problem? • What is the self-perception by Asians post 9/11?
Exemplar work • The awarding bodies that carried out the pilot of the extended project, AQA and Edexcel, have placed some examples of projects on their websites at the following pages: • AQA – in the ‘Teacher Resource Bank’ on: http://www.aqa.org.uk/over/extendedproject.php • Edexcel – in ‘Example Material’ on: http://www.edexcel.com/quals/project/level3