General studies

18th May 2001 at 01:00
GENERAL STUDIES: an AS and A-level Course Text. By Victor Watton and Richard Hobson. Hodder amp; Stoughton pound;12.99. TES price pound;10.99. plus 99p pamp;p per order.

The wide breadth of general studies means that producing a course text is beset with problems. This volume makes a brave attempt, but seems to fall into the same trap that has caught out all the others I have used.

It covers the four specifications, and the preface directs the reader to the relevant sections, grouped under three key areas: science, mathematics and technology; culture, arts, morality and humanities; and society, politics and the economy. In each section dealing with specific issues there is some factual text, a selection ofkey words, activities for individual and group work, as well as specimen A and AS-style questions.

The text is accessible and supported by clear illustrations, some of which are used as stimulus material for the activities. Although the information focuses on current debates, the choice of topics appears rather arbitrary. There is a similar problem with key words. My other concern is the tendency towards brevity. The essay questions are thought-provoking, but they may need to be adapted.

The two appendices are very useful. The first offers some suggestions for addressing the issue of the three main key skills; the second provides exam guidance across the specifications.

Steve Walker

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