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Psychological benefits of change

AS a teacher of AS and A2 psychology I am increasingly concerned by the assessment method used for this subject.

Students' ability is tapped through their skill in constructing essays. If you are a terminal A2 student (unfortunate term) six essays are required in two sessions, one of 90 minutes and the other of two hours. Terminal AS students have to write five essays (though shorter and less demanding than A2) they are also required to respond to 10 short-answer questions and a multi-part research methods question, all in one three-hour sitting.

While I realise that some students might have the esoteric skills required to compose written material that meets the exam board prescription ie "is coherent, descriptive, detailed, analytical, evaluative and containing relevant qualified commentary," many of my own students find the prospect of this task, in the allotted time, daunting.

I cannot help wondering if A-level psychology ability might not be better assessed from the use of more direct short-answer questions. This approach may even provide the opportunity to broaden the range of psychological knowledge assessed.

It would certainly reduce the ordeal of marking and could even improve inter-examiner reliability, a quality that has been sadly lacking of late.

Ivan Brown

3 Bridge Gardens

East Molesey


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