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Coursework research misrepresented

We write in response to the article "Students say GCSE is fair - but it's easy to cheat" (TES, October 25) . As the researchers of the project from which the data in the article originated, we would like to make two points.

While not retracting from the content of the article we would contend that the title of the article is not representative. The article focused solely on coursework whereas the title refers to the GCSE as a whole. Coursework, as one element of the GCSE, in terms of learning, teaching and assessment is very different from other components and, in particular, is very different from the main form of assessment, that of end-of-course examinations. The transferring of statements about one element to that of the whole not only misrepresents our data but also misrepresents what coursework stands for; as a valued and valid complementary component of the GCSE in respect of both learning and assessment. Further, we would like to point out that simply because something is easy to do, it does not necessarily follow that everyone is doing it.

Just as the focus of the article is about one component of the GCSE, so the research reported is but one component of the findings from the project which had as its brief to survey users' perceptions of the GCSE. This involved six different user groups and looked at the GCSE as a whole as well as its constituent parts. The research was commissioned by the Joint Council for the GCSE and the published report is available from the Joint Council. Set in the context of the research as a whole, students of GCSE felt strongly that the benefits of coursework such as the development of transferable skills and motivation far outweighed the drawbacks. This perception was shared by parents of GCSE students and employers.

KEITH BISHOP, KATE BULLOCK, and SUE MARTIN

School of education

University of Bath

Bath, Avon

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