Geography - Missing the bear necessities

7th January 2011 at 00:00

Global warming is probably the greatest global environmental issue of the century: it has a high media profile and has been the subject of popular films. But answers from Higher geography candidates on its impact were "very disappointing".

For the first time, candidates were asked questions last year about the impact of global warming.

Answers were adequate but few contained "specific detailed knowledge", with many candidates restricting their responses to ice-caps melting, sea levels rising and coastal areas being flooded. Some included habitat loss and the mention of polar bears.

"Candidates must be better able to respond more knowledgeably to issues such as this," concluded the markers.

They also commented on the significant number of candidates who confused global warming with ozone depletion and who were "largely unaware" of greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide and methane, with the sources of these gases "only vaguely understood".

Candidates should be equally knowledgeable about all of the topics to ensure questions about global warming and changes to commercial arable farming were as successfully tackled as those on corrie formation and plant succession on sand dunes - areas where pupils performed particularly well.

Teachers were urged to make use of modern technology and not rely on "seriously out-of-date" materials to ensure all topic coverage was "relevant to the early years of the 21st century".

The majority of pupils were "well prepared" for Higher geography. But some candidates were guilty of failing to read the question properly.

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