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A level Psychology - AQA A to WJEC (and back to AQA A again?)

Discussion in 'Social sciences' started by MrJake, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. Fellow Psychology Teachers.

    I?m hoping that you can offer some advice on the following predicament.

    We switched from AQA A Psychology to WJEC in 2009/10. This was mainly down to some poor results following the change of specification in 2008/9. We needed to guarantee an improved success rate or else Psychology would be for the chop! The set questioning style of WJEC seemed like it would suit our students as it got rid of any possible misinterpretation of the wording of questions and the exam skills are formulaic.

    After the first year of teaching WJEC all seemed rosy. Our success rate had improved and we assumed it would continue to as we developed our resources and understanding of how to help students succeed. Indeed, our impression of WJEC was so positive that we were encouraging when colleagues from other schools/colleges told us they were considering a move (often for reasons quite similar to our own).

    Things have since changed!

    We are about to complete our third year of teaching WJEC and are all a little jaded by the experience. PY1 is ok as it gives a decent foundation to the main approaches but PY2 is death by core study and has made the subject feel a real slog. Whatever teaching strategies and activities a lesson involves the goal is the same - preparing for another 12 mark question (only 6 of 50 will actually test their knowledge in the exam).

    Our other issue with WJEC is that the increase we saw in success rates in the first year has levelled out ? and we can?t understand why. We?ve improved resources etc but to little avail. It has also proven difficult to get the top grades ? and from getting scripts back ? this seems to be because the expectations of students writing are so high (presumably as a trade off for the predictability of the questions).

    For all these reasons we?re considering switching back to AQA A. My impression (from marking AQA A PSYA2 for the past 4 years) is that the questions are not as unpredictable as first appeared the case, and that the emphasis on application of knowledge to novel scenarios also seems to have decreased. Also, I feel that the shorter answer questions allow both top and bottom-end students more opportunity to gain marks (than WJEC?s 12 mark mini-essays do ? as the students who struggle often go blank, while the more able find it hard to write with the very high level of accuracy and detail necessary to get in/near the top band). Finally the course content should be more engaging for students as it is easier to apply to their own lives (which can be the main motivation for doing psychology i.e. lets talk about ME!).

    Apologies for taking up your time but any advice you can offer us would be really appreciated. Would you recommend a switch? Have you a similar dilemma?
  2. Hi Mr Jake,

    Have you tried the forum on psychexchange. There's a lot more psychology teacher traffic through that site who could give you some practical advice on other specs.
    Best of luck,
  3. I am thinking exactly the same. WJEC suited the needs of my students two years ago, but I have been really disappointed by the lack of A/B grades. The students I am teaching this year should be getting top grades and I know that they would have got those doing AQA. The precision required and the massive gap between marks (I recalled two papers, one student got 6/8 for a question the other got 7/8 and the difference in content was massive) means I'm struggling to move the dept forward.

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