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How much to include critics in A2 English lit coursework?

Discussion in 'English' started by sleepyhead, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    I teach the B spec so I am NOT an expert on this - but I've just looked at the spec, and I can't see any way around this. They HAVE to consider critical opinions no matter what grade they're looking at. They won't necessarily name them or quote from them, but they do need to consider them to meet the criteria.

  2. I teach this spec. My understanding is that the coursework title should have a critical view in it, followed by 'how far do you agree...'. This will then give the candidate a chance to debate with a view, hitting part of AO3. A good debate will also look at the counter-viewpoint for higher achieving candidates. I wouldn't say that naming critics is necessary - just an ability to demonstrate a range of viewpoints, backed up by reference to the text. Remember, AO3 is predominately looking at comparisons. Of course, some of my students included critical opinions, but only the A/A* students managed to integrate it successfully into their argument. Lower abilities just tended to 'bolt on' a viewpoint.

    Also, it helps to perhaps give a feminist or marxist reading of the texts. This again hits the 'critical' views part of AO3.
  3. GloriaSunshine

    GloriaSunshine New commenter

    I don't know this spec but I don't think you should be advising a student on coursework. It is supposed to be her work and teacher and student sign to say that she has only received help only from her subject teacher. She should declare your advice and this will be taken into account when moderating her folder. You would be better off studying the spec and past papers and helping her to prepare for the exam.
  4. Thanks v much vitet, - this is helpful and also reassuring advice about how the criteria can be hit without specifically quoting critics but by discussing the different viewpoints with reference to the texts. I will encourage her to look at feminist and marxist readings which I know she has talked about in relation to her chosen texts. I can completely see that more specific critical opinions could end up just being bolted on if overly forced!
  5. I shared your concern at the beginning and the last thing I wanted to do was jeopardise her chances in any way - which is why I haven't read any of her coursework drafts at all. I've just been working with her on essay planning and writing technique more generally and pushing her to make comparisions between the texts and to read more closely. I don't think this is more help than any student could access online or in revision books if they chose to - the advantage of a tutor I think is having an extra 'push' rather than a 'guide'.
  6. GloriaSunshine

    GloriaSunshine New commenter

    It may be the case for AQA, but generally the candidate form asks if help or advice has been received by anyone other than the subject teacher. It asks about material used, but a distinction is drawn between looking at revision sites and having a tutor. It may be that AQA don't make this distinction for GCSE, but I doubt it.
  7. Joannanna

    Joannanna New commenter

    I teach this spec and went to a course on it about 2 years ago. The advice given then direct from the exam board was that they specifically DID NOT want students to name critics or critical theories and then quote. The alternative views, they felt, could be made up of classroom discussion and the classic 'this could suggest... however it could equally suggest...'
    I know, woolly, and not preparing students for degree level critical engagement but that was the advice given. No student I've taught has ever included critics names or quotations and one of mine got full marks on that module last year.
  8. I'd be interested to know what other English Lit teachers think about private tutoring - whether you've had good or bad experiences? If a pupil said they were thinking about it would you encourage them to or not?
    I've just been looking at the coursework guidelines - I am absolutely confident that nothing I have done with the student would jeopardise an assessment about whether or not it is her own work (it definitely is) but of course, a tutor does count as additional assistance of some type, even if the tutoring is perfectly within the conditions defined by the exam board.
    If my pupil has to declare that she's been having tutoring and the teacher is also happy to declare that the work is entirely the pupil's (as I hope they would be), could this still cause problems with AQA markers? I guess as soon as you acknowledge outside tutoring it may raise questions - although personally I don't think it's any more of an advantage than the difference between having parents who can help or not and the invitable difference in the level of help different schools will be able to give you.
    What do others think?
  9. Thank you Joannanna - that's good to know. And yes I agree that it doesn't prepare them adequately for degree level - personally I've found it hard to see how they can engage with critical view points without having read and referenced any. But I take the point that the most important thing is to acknowledge and engage with different viewpoints (wherever they come from!) rather than getting bogged down with the detail of different critics.
    fyi I've just found this in a relevant exam report:
    "Most made good use of named critics to structure their own argument, although it
    is quite possible to look at other ways of reading texts - from a Marxist, feminist, dominant or
    oppositional point of view - without always quoting a secondary source. Whereas simply namechecking a critic and writing - I agree - is not evidence of high quality AO3ii, when a candidate shows an ambitious and conceptualised alertness to the idea of multiple readings with regard to his or her chosen texts, evaluates these readings and uses them to develop new ideas, they have fulfilled all the relevant requirements."
    So it seems named critics can be and are used effectively, but aren't essential to good marks!
  10. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    An ex-colleague who has since retired tutors some of our students. They tend to be the ones who are working at a grade D or below and who need extra help, but can't get it from their already overstretched teachers. None of us has an issue with this; in fact, we tend to give his name when they ask!
    Not as far as I am aware. Your tutee MUST complete the bit of the form that asks about other help, and there is also part of the form that asks about this. I'd suggest that you write a note for the teacher which details what this help has been as they are going to have to sign off on the work. They can then take that into account/sumbit it to the board.

  11. manc

    manc New commenter

    "How much to include critics in A2 English lit coursework?"
    I've asked around - will a tenner do you?
  12. - Thanks for the suggestion. That will probably be helpful in making sure the teacher doesn't worry about the type of help I've given. Also glad that you see outside tutoring as helpful rather than unhelpful - although an ex-colleague who can tutor sounds like a particularly ideal situation!


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