decision or statistics at AS level?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by civilgirl, Jan 13, 2012.

1. civilgirl

I'm trying to investigate which is "best" for students taking AS; decision (D1) or statistics (S1). I'm with AQA and the figures appear to indicate that students do better at S1. However these may be skewed if S1 is used more for further or A2 than D1.
We teach D1 to first years and S1 or M1 to second years. What do other people do?

2. civilgirl

I'm trying to investigate which is "best" for students taking AS; decision (D1) or statistics (S1). I'm with AQA and the figures appear to indicate that students do better at S1. However these may be skewed if S1 is used more for further or A2 than D1.
We teach D1 to first years and S1 or M1 to second years. What do other people do?

3. PaulDGOccasional commenter

Most places seem to teach S1 in yr 12, M1 in yr 13 with D1 used in yr 12 for Further Maths students.

IMHO, D1 is "easy" (but then part of my degree is in computing so it's all very familiar to me), but it's obvious some students find it's so different to the maths they've done before (concentrating on algorithms, not really building on any of the skills learnt at GCSE), that it's a steeper learning curve than many are up for.

I think in an ideal world, there'd be some communication between departments and those students taking computing A level would be pointed at D1, those doing physics at M1 and those doing economics at S1.

But that sort of planning (which was common when I was at school) seems impossible today.

4. civilgirl

Thanks for this;
You say "most" places do S1 at AS, how do you know this?
and why; because staff find it easier to teach or because of the anecdotal evidence?

Has anyone actually looked at the figures or done any kind of comparison?

Should the decision be based on what will get the students the highest marks, or what will be more useful to them in the future?
(Quite possibly the reason for S1 at AS is that people doing only AS are more likely to find stats useful.)

6. PaulDGOccasional commenter

Personal Anecdote as a result of communication with almost all maths departments teaching A level within a radius of about 20 miles of where I live.

I suspect there are a number of reasons for doing S1 & M1 in "normal" A level - let me suggest a few:

2. Staff knowledge (many will have pure maths, engineering or economics degrees and will be familiar with mechanics & statistics but not with decision maths).

3. S1 & M1 have overlaps with core, D1 doesn't really.

I imagine the exam boards have. Have you looked at their figures?

7. pwc9000New commenter

We use S1 for AS and D1 for A2 leaving Mechanics only in Further.
We think this is best for our pupils - non-selective school in selective area.
Haven't really got any evidence that it is - early days for significant delivery of A-Level Maths for us.

8. cyolba

If they have &pound;60 or so, they can use a graphical calculator in S1 which almost literally does all the work for them, so it becomes really easy to pass.
D1 is considered difficult for the weaker students, as they find it difficult to remember algorithms, or get them mixed up, thus losing many marks.
M1 is sensible for the Physicists, but S1 is best for other students, as it also has some overlap with the Higher tier GCSE.

cyolba, placating the C1 students as he types

9. PaulDGOccasional commenter

The Ti-82 STATS is under £50.

10. cyolba

Our tool of choice is the CASIO fx-9750GII (not my decison), which is pricier, but probably no better.

cyolba, not in charge of anything

11. PiranhaStar commenter

One consideration is EAL students. I have one very bright student (scores 90% on FP1 tests) who struggles with the wordy D1 questions because she can't work out exactly what the question is asking for.

12. PaulDGOccasional commenter

Foreign students with iGCSEs can also struggle with M1 because of the wordy questions and details of scenarios and with S1 because they are not likely to have covered statistics to the same extent as normal GCSE students. (Usually they make this up in core as their algebra skills are generally advanced.)

13. lizlucyNew commenter

civilgirl, we are also with AQA and we do the same as you. I think the AQA figures are probably skewed as I think many more people use D1 in year 12.
We used to teach S1 or M1 in year 12 but found weaker students did not do as well with them. A hardworking weaker student can learn the algorithms and gain quite good marks in D1

14. civilgirl

Thanks,
Yes, thats what I thought about the AQA figures when I saw them.

We've now decided to trial S1 with one of our AS classes. (It was either that or buy new D1 text books.) Not a very scientific test, but we'll have a better picture than we would without it.