The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: How can we improve science A-levels?  (Read 5462 times)

Offline thedoc

  • Forum Admin
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 511
  • Thanked: 12 times
    • View Profile
How can we improve science A-levels?
« on: 19/06/2012 17:24:38 »
Is science education up to scratch?  Universities have complained that the A-Level curriculum doesn't prepare students for a degree, so exam boards are taking a stand to improve education...
Read a transcript of the interview by clicking here

or  
« Last Edit: 19/06/2012 17:24:38 by _system »


 

Offline graham.d

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2208
    • View Profile
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #1 on: 20/06/2012 15:26:13 »
As is mentioned in the interview transcript, modularisation is one of the ways that exams have been dumbed down. From what I have seen though, it has been in GCSEs and some University courses that have employed modularisation the most. For many years I have considered A-levels results to be a better guide to a candidate's ability than a degree (even a good degree) from some universities. And in some subjects at some universities an MSc can be awarded, more or less, on the student just having attended. Of course there are still good students emerging from all the universities; it is just that the exam result is now no guide to the ability of the student. This generally does not apply to Oxford and Cambridge who maintain high standards in their internal courses and, maybe more importantly, are able to be very selective on who they accept. Other universities can also be relied upon, but it can become subject dependent and is probably down to local management.

I am not sure which Universities were complaining about the A-levels but, from my experience, I would wish that many of the Universities would improve there own degree quality rather than blaming the A-level not pre-conditioning the students properly. If the standard of student is not good enough this may be a fault of trying to let everyone obtain a degree and lowering the overall standards to do so. This seems to be the "elephant in the room" with Universities and politicians alike.
 

Offline survivalist13

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #2 on: 20/06/2012 16:30:31 »
Here is an article by the BBC on the topic but with a different view in my opinion. newbielink:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-18497563 [nonactive]

The interview seemed to be suggesting tweaking the current system to make it more effective, which I can't argue against. The BBC article is reporting on something far more drastic. Scrapping he modular system, possibly scrapping the AS levels and limiting the number of resits. Which I do take issue with.

First off I am led to believe that all universities work on some sort of modular system so surely it is hypocritical to say the modular system prepares students poorly for university. AS levels seem like a good idea to me with no apparent downsides. They give a good indication on what universities you should apply to and which should give you offers. They allow you to drop a subject after the first year and still gain some recognition for it. People seem to assume that resits automatically result in a higher grade. In my experience the people who do significantly better on resits are the ones who were just unlucky in the first exam, panicked etc. If you are bad at the subject no realistic amount of resits will get you an A. I agree that there are an excessive amount of resists occurring, I'm not convinced that it's effecting the overall outcome of A levels.

This really brings me to my main point, education should strive to be as fair as possible. It isn't and neither is life but I think it's important to strive to make it as fair as possible. Similarly your A level should accurately reflect your ability at a subject and the role of luck should be minimized as much as possible. So anything that reduces the role of luck is beneficial. A non modular system seems to do the opposite. It could be argued that if you took enough resits you'd happen to get lucky once and do well, I think you'd be doing a lot of resists to manage this.

I think there is plenty of room for improvement in A levels, however changing the whole system is certainly not the answer, what we need to do is to keep refining and tweaking the current system. The current proposals seem to be being made by people who have not done A levels for donkey's years and have no real idea.

My current situation is I've currently got 2 more days of exams until I finish my A levels. I study double maths, physics and chemistry and have an offer from Cambridge to study engineering which hopefully I will meet :) And anyone who says A levels are easy can't have taken further maths.
« Last Edit: 20/06/2012 21:52:53 by survivalist13 »
 

Offline graham.d

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2208
    • View Profile
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #3 on: 20/06/2012 17:52:13 »
Best of luck with your A-levels (with 2 days to go, don't waste your time here either!). As a matter of interest I did Further Maths A-level way back in 1967 and it wasn't a walk over. A word of warning though: because Universities don't assume Further Maths they go over a lot of this again and it is easy to become complacent and miss lectures only to find that there is some new subject you have not done. I say this from personal experience! Also I did half an A-level in chemistry before dropping it to do the Further Maths (along with Physics and Maths) and there was (regrettably) no AS level in those days to give credit for the work done.

I agree it can be a lottery whether you revise the right subjects in a non-modular approach, but it is too easy to cram on a subject then completely forget it. I don't think you will find Cambridge will do this, at least for finals, but I am way out of touch so I may be wrong. I suspect there will be choices so you can concentrate on your favorite speciality fields, but generally you need a good grounding in a wide area and need to remember the basics in these.

As I said, modularisation has weakened the meaning of a degree hugely for most of the Universities (though not all). If there is a better way to give more worth to the qualification (so an employer can judge its value) then I would like to hear it. As I said before, I think A-level results still have great significance.
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #4 on: 20/06/2012 21:35:25 »
Here is an article by the BBC on the topic but with a different view in my opinion. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-18497563
The interview seemed to be suggesting tweaking the current system to make it more effective, which I can't argue against. The BBC article is reporting on something far more drastic. Scrapping he modular system, possibly scrapping the AS levels and limiting the number of resits. Which I do take issue with.
First off I am led to believe that all universities work on some sort of modular system so surely it is hypocritical to say the modular system prepares students poorly for university. AS levels seem like a good idea to me with no apparent downsides. They give a good indication on what universities you should apply to and which should give you offers. They allow you to drop a subject after the first year and still gain some recognition for it. People seem to assume that resits automatically result in a higher grade. In my experience the people who do significantly better on resits are the ones who were just unlucky in the first exam, panicked etc. If you are bad at the subject no realistic amount of resits will get you an A. I agree that there are an excessive amount of resists occurring, I'm not convinced that it's effecting the overall outcome of A levels.This really brings me to my main point, education should strive to be as fair as possible. It isn't and neither is life but I think it's important to strive to make it as fair as possible. Similarly your A level should accurately reflect your ability at a subject and the role of luck should be minimized as much as possible. So anything that reduces the role of luck is beneficial. A non modular system seems to do the opposite. It could be argued that if you took enough resits you'd happen to get lucky once and do well, I think you'd be doing a lot of resists to manage this.

I think there is plenty of room for improvement in A levels, however changing the whole system is certainly not the answer, what we need to do is to keep refining and tweaking the current system. The current proposals seem to be being made by people who have not done A levels for donkey's years and have no real idea.

My current situation is I've currently got 2 more days of exams until I finish my A levels. I study double maths, physics and chemistry and have an offer from Cambridge to study engineering which hopefully I will meet :) And anyone who says A levels are easy can't have taken further maths.


Not to seem picky or nuthin', but if you are planning on a successful engineering career, you might want to brush up on the old English skills a bit. (Walls of text tend to turn people off.)
 
A lot of brilliant engineers are seriously hampered becuse they can't communicate for toffee. Good luck with the exams though!
 

Offline graham.d

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2208
    • View Profile
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #5 on: 21/06/2012 10:23:38 »
Wow Geezer, you are being picky. The English was pretty good by most of today's standards and especially if typing straight into the quick reply box. It's better than many who post on this site. I know some quite senior engineers whose written English is appalling (and whose first language is English).

And as I'm also someone who tends to be somewhat verbose in writing, I will disregard the "walls of text" comment :-) This isn't Twitter afterall.
 

Offline chris

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 5341
  • Thanked: 65 times
  • The Naked Scientist
    • View Profile
    • The Naked Scientists
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #6 on: 21/06/2012 11:30:15 »
Good luck with your exams, "survivalist13", and pay no attention to the grumpy old ex-pat above.

I will, however, put you right in a couple of areas:

At Cambridge University we rely very little on coursework, at least in the life sciences. Assessment is structured around rigorous examination that is fair and comprehensive. It's fair because everyone knows the exam is coming and everyone gets the same paper and the same teaching. It's comprehensive because it aims to test the majority of the course, so people cannot learn one thing in detail and "get lucky".

Then the question of retakes or "second chances". Let me post a theoretical scenario at you. Let's say you need complex, delicate surgery to correct an internal problem. Corrected, you'll be fine, but if the surgery goes wrong, there's a serious chance you'll die. Let's say you're offered a choice of three surgeons who could perform the work for you, all of whom have a piece of paper saying "medical / surgery degree; licensed to butcher people etc" and the GMC says they can operate.

One of the surgeons had to re-sit all his exams through 5 years of medical school, several times, because he failed most stuff first time around. But ultimately he scraped a pass in his finals and is now working at the hospital you've attended.

The second surgeon was a middle of the road candidate. She did passably well throughout the course and qualified without incident.

The third candidate was top of the year in every exam, won prizes, and has published papers on correcting the problem you're suffering with.

Given a choice, which candidate would you pick to operate on you? And bear in mind, if they get it wrong, there is no re-take - you'll probably die.

The point I am trying to make with my slightly extreme example is that in some instances excellence is necessary, and that means excellence the first time, not after 2 retakes.

The problem the present system has is that over one third of candidates at A level are now returning As. As a mathematician you must be acquainted with a Normal distribution, and must therefore recognise that one third of the population sitting at one end of the grade spectrum is a heavy skew and totally unrepresentative of the bell-shaped curve of results one would expect from a population? This is partly the consequence of modularisation and resitting. And it's making candidates' lives harder, not easier.

Because, where in the past people would receive a clear steer towards where their talents were really placed, the present system fools people into thinking they are competitively good at things that they are really average at. This makes it hard for universities and employers to select the best candidates and also does no favours for the poor candidates who end up struggling but have wasted 3 years of their lives working for a degree in a subject they aren't brilliant at.

I'd like to see A levels restored to a competitive process where a proportion of the population achieve each grade, rather than the absolute grading that goes on now.

The world of business operates like this, so we should be preparing people from a young age for the challenge they will face in the months or years ahead, not fooling them into thinking they can spend their lives having another go at everything they didn't get right the first time.

That approach won't wash for a patient on the surgeon's operating table, a pilot landing a plane with 300 people on board or a banker trading millions of pounds of other peoples' money. Nor should it be acceptable in education.

Chris
 

Offline survivalist13

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #7 on: 21/06/2012 18:28:59 »
Three hours of maths exams this afternoon, fun fun fun. Happily they went well :)

Anyway I have somewhat changed my opinions on some areas and would like to expand on others in relation to the original topic.

Quote
At Cambridge University we rely very little on coursework, at least in the life sciences. Assessment is structured around rigorous examination that is fair and comprehensive.

What are you correcting me on here? I didn't mention coursework. I assume you are referring to the use of modules in university courses. In which case I assume that during a four year course you will take exams at the end of each year and possibly in January. You don't just have all the tests at the end of a four year course? Therefore the course would be modular by my understanding. If you were just stating facts then fair enough.

Quote
It's fair because everyone knows the exam is coming and everyone gets the same paper and the same teaching. It's comprehensive because it aims to test the majority of the course, so people cannot learn one thing in detail and "get lucky".

This is a good definition of what a fair education system should be. However at A level this isn't actually true. There are at least three different exam boards (although I assume there's a regulatory system in place here) and more importantly A level students across the country receive a varying quality of teaching. Perhaps the largest way that A levels are unfair (by the above definition) is due to public schools (aka private), more on this later.

Quote
Then the question of retakes or "second chances". Let me post a theoretical scenario at you. Let's say you need complex, delicate surgery to correct an internal problem. Corrected, you'll be fine, but if the surgery goes wrong, there's a serious chance you'll die. Let's say you're offered a choice of three surgeons who could perform the work for you, all of whom have a piece of paper saying "medical / surgery degree; licensed to butcher people etc" and the GMC says they can operate.

One of the surgeons had to re-sit all his exams through 5 years of medical school, several times, because he failed most stuff first time around. But ultimately he scraped a pass in his finals and is now working at the hospital you've attended.

The second surgeon was a middle of the road candidate. She did passably well throughout the course and qualified without incident.

The third candidate was top of the year in every exam, won prizes, and has published papers on correcting the problem you're suffering with.

Given a choice, which candidate would you pick to operate on you? And bear in mind, if they get it wrong, there is no re-take - you'll probably die.

The point I am trying to make with my slightly extreme example is that in some instances excellence is necessary, and that means excellence the first time, not after 2 retakes.

There's a number of points in this example worth addressing I think. First we are comparing 3 people based on the quality of their degree. Presumably we are assuming that surgeons 1 and 2 received the same grade but are not of equal quality. Yes this is a flaw, which I'm unsure how to address. However an alternative example would be if you needed the surgery but surgeons 2 and 3 were overloaded, surgeon 1 has not passed his degree so can not help you as a result you die. Alternatively he scrapped through and whilst not being anything specially he is suitable competent to carry out the operation with a good chance of success. A better result for the patient.

Bringing it back to A levels, Cambridge are supposed to look at how many resists you have done, or in other words a person who has resat 3 times to get his A is not equivalent in Cambridge's eyes as one who hasn't done any resits. You could argue that this should be reflected in the grade and tbh I'd agree. However unlike the surgeon example the number of resits is being taken into account in at least some cases.

Quote
The problem the present system has is that over one third of candidates at A level are now returning As. As a mathematician you must be acquainted with a Normal distribution, and must therefore recognise that one third of the population sitting at one end of the grade spectrum is a heavy skew and totally unrepresentative of the bell-shaped curve of results one would expect from a population? This is partly the consequence of modularisation and resitting. And it's making candidates' lives harder, not easier.

I recently came across a similar statistic for maths A level, which I found surprising. Coming from a comprehensive this statistic felt rather high, although my feeling is it's still not a very good normal distribution. It would be interesting to have these statistics split between public schools, comprehensives and grammars. There's probably some argument whether it should be a normal distribution or not but I hate stats so I'll ignore that. Do GCSE obey a normal distribution? So we assume we need to make A levels harder. We could do this by increasing the grade boundaries, this is what has happened with the introduction of the A* (which is more a measure of perfectionism which you might argue is what Cambridge want). However in general this is a poor solution as you are effectively decreasing the sample size (ie in an extreme case you make it 90% for a F and 98% for an A). This is actually a problem with the current A level physics coursework although not to the above extent.

Alternatively we can make the questions harder, to make the questions harder without requiring any extra teaching normally results in "trick" questions that try to catch you out (while this certainly tests something it's debatable whether it's a good test of what you are actually trying to test). The third option is to put more questions on the paper, which effectively means speed is more of a factor. I'm not sure what the current thinking is on designing how long a test is and how long students get to do it. The fourth option to make them harder is to increase the size and depth of the syllabus. However there is a finite amount of time to learn the syllabus and I feel that doing this would disadvantage students in comprehensives who might be capable of learn the larger syllabus but will be held back by less able students whereas students in grammar schools and more so public schools would gain an advantage, (on top of what they already have). Admittedly a solution to this would be to have more grammar schools (like how it was supposed to be back in the 60s I believe). What offer ways do you suggest to make them harder?

There is also the assertion that this is partly due to "modularisation and resitting" we could do with getting a handle on just how much is due to this. My position on resits has changed, my original post hypothesised that resitting rarely resulted in a higher grade. While I would still like to see some evidence for the contrary, the experiences I was basing this on are probably inaccurate. Therefore I'd be in favour of a limit to the number of resists. The prosed limit being one, is this per exam or per A level or overall?

Quote
Because, where in the past people would receive a clear steer towards where their talents were really placed, the present system fools people into thinking they are competitively good at things that they are really average at. This makes it hard for universities and employers to select the best candidates and also does no favours for the poor candidates who end up struggling but have wasted 3 years of their lives working for a degree in a subject they aren't brilliant at.

Possibly but in my experience (which is admittedly limited) GCSEs are the major source of misguidance, at GCSE's you can get good marks just by working hard, at A level the grade is much more dependent on you ability, perhaps it should be more so I don't know.

Quote
I'd like to see A levels restored to a competitive process where a proportion of the population achieve each grade, rather than the absolute grading that goes on now.

I can see arguments for and against this, and I had been lead to believe that the current system did do this to some extent but I could be wrong on this.

I seem to have spent a while picking apart the current suggestions without offer any alternatives. First off the issue of learn some science, tested on that bit move on to another bit, is not inherently a result of modularisation. For example my maths A level has 4 core modules, each one uses the information you had to know to pass the previous ones to a reasonable extent. However in chemistry and physics I can see this being a bigger issue. My chemistry course was supposed to get around this (Salters B) by jumping around the text book, expanding you knowledge in each area a bit at a time. We weren't that happy with it but probably for different reasons. I think sensible design of the course can probably over come this learn a bit test a bit forget said bit thing. Physics is probably the course I've been least impressed by (however I'm likely to be most critical of it, engineering being applied physics). However my main complaints really boil down to the syllabus not being large and in depth enough. Moreover it is not assumed that you are taking maths (although if you want a good grade you will be) so any proofs that involve calculus are not given and the maths aren't really developed. However I'm not really an average student, I would have liked AS difficulty level to be GCSE and AS to be A2 difficulty, and A2 to be further maths difficult. This would cause problems I suspect.

So what would I suggest? The original interview Chris did have a good suggestion to bring university professors, teachers and the course designers closer together so each can understand each other's needs. This wouldn't require a radically change of the current system more a refinement. However if I was to suggest radical changes I would nationalise the exam boards into one so that everyone sat the same exams (the current situation is pretty silly) and abolish public schools (and make the rich pay for the state schools by higher taxes), not suggestions that would sit well with the current government though. 

Damn now that's a wall of text, well done to anyone who read it all, I've probably still missed things out.
« Last Edit: 21/06/2012 18:45:17 by survivalist13 »
 

Offline graham.d

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2208
    • View Profile
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #8 on: 21/06/2012 20:33:30 »
I believe Michael Gove's recent suggestions did include trying to avoid the exam boards "competitively dumbing down" the exams. I'm unsure whether he suggested how this was to be achieved.

The fundamental problem is that there has been a political drive to get nearly everyone into further education. On the whole I am in favour of having a better educated populace and, as far as various governments are concerned, it also reduces the unemployment figures. However the net result is that the standards have, in general, been lowered to achieve this. My experience with Oxford, Cambridge and certain other Universities is that this has not occurred (at least to the same extent) at these establishments. I will not name names here as it would not be appropriate, but in a majority of Universities the standards are very variable with some Universities having good teaching and courses and others not so good, but in order to attract students they all (somehow) achieve a good pass rate - mainly by making the exams easy. I know of one University course where students who fail their 2nd year exams were permitted to take the papers home and redo them (no time limit, no supervision, access to textbooks); I kid you not! The drive for many Universities is to attract foreign students who pay for their course and, unsurprisingly, expect to get a qualification for their cash.

I once interviewed someone who had a 1st in electronic engineering who could not tell me Ohms Law. Although this was exceptional, the standards have notably dropped over the last 20 years. Unless I know the particular University well, A-level results are often a better guide to ability than the degree. In my opinion, it is the Universities who have to improve and regulate their standards and this would cost a lot of money. It would also mean that there would have to be more differing standards of BSc other than the unofficial "OxBridge and the rest" if we are to maintain getting degree qualifications for the same numbers of people. This would be a hard sell politically.

Fiddling with the A-levels is a step, but a very minor one. As Chris alludes to, we would expect a normal distribution and this should be centred around (say) a "C" grade. It becomes an unsubtle judge of ability if it ends up with the top quartile not being effectively tested because they are undifferentiated by a low pass standard. This usually requires "graded" questions or some other means of allowing the best students to show their excellence. However, my impressions of A-levels have not been so bad so as to think them in need of radical reform.
 

Offline chris

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 5341
  • Thanked: 65 times
  • The Naked Scientist
    • View Profile
    • The Naked Scientists
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #9 on: 21/06/2012 22:20:13 »
To address a few of the points raised above:

University exams (and certainly at Cambridge) are not modular; and what you do in the first couple of years generally does not count towards your degree score, which is usually based solely on the final (usually third) year performance.

I am utterly not in favour of modularised assessment that allows people to resit things. Modularisation is supposed to benefit people who "work consistently"; fine, so why do they need to resit anything if they work consistently? If they are consistently not getting an A then that's informative in itself and should be left as such. So let's either have modules and have one crack at each one, or no modules and one crack at a final big exam. If you have a bad day, too bad; life's like that; if you really want to resit, you resit the whole year.

Moreover, let's see an end to this panolply of exam boards all trying their thickest to get the A grade bar as low as possible so more schools driven by league table bloodlust are deterred from purchasing examining from the body returning the greatest proportion of As. This is also not a new practice. When I was at school our latin exam was set by MEG (Midland); but set 2 sat the LEAG papers. I asked why and the teacher told me that they got better average grades that way. So grade inflation was alive and kicking more than 20 years ago.

I would also like to see one exam board and one exam board only. Or, as the government are suggesting, one board per subject or discipline. I would also like to see grading assigned in a proportional way based on a Normal distribution - which we would expect given the massive sample size of examinees each year; that is, the average should centre on a C (as noted above); the top 10% should get an A. This is how we assign degree grades at university level. It's a nonsense that 30% of people are getting an A in a subject; all that means is that the definition of an A is wrong, or the exam is too easy. And when we interview people for places, everyone's got - or is predicted to get - an A in everything; but as soon as some people open their mouths it's clear to us who's really A grade material.

Sorry to rant, but I am annoyed by the present situation, which I feel does young learners no favours whatsoever, wastes their time and energy and delays them finding their true strengths and vocations by telling them they're brilliant at everything; it's only 3 years of university and a 50,000 quid debt later that some discover what they are really good at...

Chris
 

Offline survivalist13

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #10 on: 21/06/2012 22:46:08 »
Quote
University exams (and certainly at Cambridge) are not modular; and what you do in the first couple of years generally does not count towards your degree score, which is usually based solely on the final (usually third) year performance.

Ok I didn't know this, maybe I should have. I'm sure I'll find all this out at a later date, I should stick to commenting on stuff I actually have some experience of.

Personally I'd prefer the modular with no resit system compared to one big crack at the end. Perhaps I should add that the only exam I've ever resat was GCSE German (which I was terrible at), my first maths module I messed up but all my other modules showed it to be an anomaly and it averaged out.

Seems everyone agrees on uniting the exam boards, even the conservatives to my surprise. The one board per subject is an interesting idea but we might get better economies of scale with just one big one it would depend.

I'd agree a grading system as you'd describe it would in many ways be better. However as I tried (perhaps with not a great deal of efficiency) in my above post simply saying make the exams harder is easier said than done, although not insurmountable.

You have a different and undoubtedly wider experience (I assume you interview students) from my position in a comprehensive I would say A levels have done a fairly good job of informing people of where their abilities lie. However my sample size is pretty poor.

On a related topic the proposed changes to GCSEs. If we continue along the current line of thought then I can see an argument that GCSEs are failing to prepare students for A level which is a whole other kettle of fish (who puts fish in a kettle come to think of it?)

We also seem to be ignoring graham.d's point that there is also an issue with degrees. I assume he is in a position to be interviewing graduates and finding the lack of a system of equivalent degrees an issue. Out of curiosity what industry are you in? I can't claim to have much knowledge of this and certainly don't have any suggestions to improve it.
 

Offline graham.d

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2208
    • View Profile
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #11 on: 21/06/2012 23:28:13 »
I have worked in semiconductor device design and production for 40 years.
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #12 on: 22/06/2012 01:39:16 »
Wow Geezer, you are being picky. The English was pretty good by most of today's standards and especially if typing straight into the quick reply box. It's better than many who post on this site. I know some quite senior engineers whose written English is appalling (and whose first language is English).

And as I'm also someone who tends to be somewhat verbose in writing, I will disregard the "walls of text" comment :-) This isn't Twitter afterall.

'twas intended to be positive feedback! I would think (or at least hope) that Cambridge would demand pretty high written language skills, even in Engineering.
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #13 on: 22/06/2012 09:17:04 »
Survivalist,

Sounds like the zams are going well!

I encourage you to pay no attention to these latter-day namby-pamby "education experts", and I encourage you to maintain the broadest possible education opportunities for as long as possible. (That's why I dinged you on the English thing.)

It's far too easy to become "over-specialized" these days, and the education systems seem to encourage it. Nobody knows which skills will be in demand 25 years from now, so there is a distinct possibility that you will have to make some radical changes in direction from time-to-time, and that is particularly true in the engineering disciplines.
 

Offline chris

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 5341
  • Thanked: 65 times
  • The Naked Scientist
    • View Profile
    • The Naked Scientists
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #14 on: 22/06/2012 22:36:13 »
Note that Geezer's gone all AmericaniZed and started putting a Z into everything where a S would be so much more engliZh...
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #15 on: 23/06/2012 03:23:06 »
Note that Geezer's gone all AmericaniZed and started putting a Z into everything where a S would be so much more engliZh...

I wish I still had my Schonell spelling books from nineteen-canteen. In Scotland, we waz taught proper English spelling, and a lot of the words used the now defunct (except in the US) use of Z instead of S.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: How can we improve science A-levels?
« Reply #15 on: 23/06/2012 03:23:06 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums
 
Login
Login with username, password and session length