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Controlled Assessment fieldwork

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This is the season where Priory Geography heads to Hengistbury Head for the purpose of GCSE Controlled Assessment Data Collection.  I very much enjoy fieldwork and this post describes how we go about investigating the coast.  We follow the OCR B GCSE Specification.  My colleague Sam Atkins put together the field book below.  Information on pre-visits can be found here.

Geomorphology fieldbook
View more presentations from David Rogers

Access to high quality images are important both before and after the visit, especially for reminding students where they were, what they saw and what they did. Here is a selection from Priory Geography’s Flickr account that are made available to students:

Preparation for the fieldwork starts in October with a visit to the nearby Barton on Sea, Hurst Castle Spit and Highcliffe.  This allows students to understand the general context of the area, the effect of different management decisions and how engineering solutions affect the environment.  Students also conduct a dry run – taking part in a range of data collection activities not linked to their main question.  Using the previous year’s question this allows us to explore the pitfalls of data collection in a short period of time.  The trip is also timed to fall half way through the Coast unit.  By carrying out this pre-trip we have noticed a rise in the overall CA marks.  Many lament the stifling nature of the controlled assessment process, but by using a pre-visit we have found that the more able students are able to develop concise writing.

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Next, the trip itself. Timing is everything.  To keep costs low (we work in one of the most deprived wards in the UK) we take two minibuses and have used GA grants to enable us to purchase fieldwork equipment.  A recent GA workshop on fieldwork missed the point a little in that school sites can be used extensively to prepare young people for any type of fieldwork.  Our classes use our urban site to practice beach profiling.  Raised beds provide an opportunity to talk about groyne heights.  This again highlights the impact of effective work before a fieldtrip.

When we arrive, after time for bacon butties and the toilet, we start a learning walk over the area.  This allows young people to get a feel for the general context and location of the area.  During this we ask them to conduct some field sketches and emphasise the importance of using observations as well as measurements.

Next, we set up a carousel of activities using a pre-scoped out location identified during a pre-visit.  As this year’s question focuses on geomorphology, three activities take place.  45 minute rotations occur between sediment sampling, exposed groyne height measurements and beach profiling.  We ensure that every child has direct experience of each technique, pausing to fill out the data collection grid (methodology table) after each activity.  These notes can be referred to later on during High Level of control.  Each fieldwork group carries out the data collection in a slightly different location (recorded on a map) allowing the group to build up a substantial amount of data that can be shared.

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We then allow the students 2-3 hours of independent time to complete the rest of the booklet and gather any extra information they may need.  As you can see, there are major omissions and mistakes in the notebook which allows our students to genuinely use their experience of the Barton trip to select the best data techniques and to change and add to the booklet.  This critical approach allows them to access the higher levels later on in the process and ensures that each student has a slightly different approach to the subject.

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