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Research Matters 20


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  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Research Matters 20: Summer 2015
    (Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, 2015-06-01) Green, Sylvia
    Research Matters is a free biannual publication which allows Cambridge University Press & Assessment to share its assessment research, in a range of fields, with the wider assessment community. 
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Using generalised boosting models to evaluate the UCAS tariff
    (Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, 2015-06-01) Gill, Tim
    The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK-based organisation providing the application process for almost all British universities. The UCAS tariff points system is used by universities to help select students for entry to their courses. Each grade in a qualification has a certain number of UCAS points allocated to it, which are then summed to provide an overall tariff points score for each student. The assumption made is that two students with the same UCAS tariff gained from different qualifications are of the same ability, or have the same potential to achieve at university. This article uses a statistical technique known as generalised boosting models (GBMs) to evaluate the use of the UCAS tariff as a predictor of degree outcome.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    The roles of teaching styles and curriculum in Mathematics achievement: Analysis of TIMSS 2011
    (Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, 2015-06-01) Zanini, Nadir; Benton, Tom
    This article provides empirical evidence about the link between Mathematics achievement, curriculum, teaching methods and resources used in the classroom. More specifically, this research explores common teaching styles and topics taught across countries with respect to their Mathematics achievement. In order to do so, we make use of the fifth TIMSS survey, which provides a rich set of information regarding aspects of the curriculum (e.g., the emphasis on problem solving and interpreting data sets), resources used by teachers in the classroom (e.g., calculators and textbooks) and teaching styles (e.g., how often students are asked to take written tests, to work out problems individually rather than with teachers' guidance), along with measures of achievement in Mathematics gathered in 2011. Although TIMSS is administered to students and their teachers in both Grades 4 and 8 (Years 5 and 9 respectively, within England), analysis in this research is restricted to the Grade 8 students (aged 14). When analysing data aggregated at jurisdictional level, this allows us to explore relationships in the Mathematics achievement of 15 year-olds as measured by PISA 2012.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Teachers’ and employers’ views on the transition from GCSE Mathematics to A level Mathematics or employment
    (Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, 2015-06-01) Rushton, Nicky; Wilson, Frances
    Mathematics is one of the core GCSE subjects, and students are required to study the subject until the end of Key Stage 4 (KS4), when they are approximately aged 16. There is no requirement for students to take a qualification in Mathematics, but almost all students do. GCSE Mathematics is important because it represents the end of students' compulsory Mathematics learning. The current study aimed to identify the areas of Mathematics that were problematic for students who had just completed GCSE Mathematics. It also aimed to discover whether there was any overlap in the skills that were considered to be problematic as preparation for A level and those considered to be problematic as preparation for employment. It uses responses from a larger survey of teachers and employers to consider three research questions: 1. What areas of Mathematics are GCSE students well/poorly prepared in? 2. What teaching is needed to bring students up to the standard for starting A level Mathematics? 3. What Mathematics training do employers run for school leavers?
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Statistics and Mechanics: Comparing the Applied Mathematics of international Mathematics qualifications
    (Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, 2015-06-01) Munro, Jess
    This article reports on data collated as part of a large-scale study investigating how A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics prepare students for the mathematical demands of university study in a range of subjects. We investigate and compare the applied mathematical content (Mechanics and Statistics) in a range of international Mathematics qualifications and conclude that the A level has notable differences to similar qualifications in other jurisdictions. In particular, the existing modular structure at A level introduces significant variability into the mathematical backgrounds of students studying what is theoretically the same qualification. Although this problem will be rectified by the introduction of prescribed content from 2016, two other differences emerged during this investigation. First, whilst Mechanics content at A level is primarily studied in Mathematics and/or Further Mathematics, in nearly every other jurisdiction this content is studied within the Physics course. Secondly, there appears to be no international consensus about what statistical content is taught at this level. These findings may have implications for ongoing reform at A level, particularly with respect to the applied content in Further Mathematics, and may also prove interesting for employers and universities with a global reach who currently use Mathematics qualifications for admissions or recruitment purposes.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Progressing to Higher Education in the UK: The effect of prior learning on institution and field of study
    (Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, 2015-06-01) Vidal Rodeiro, Carmen; Sutch, Tom; Zanini, Nadir
    Students applying to study a course in a Higher Education (HE) institution have to make two choices: what subject to study and at which institution. These decisions are influenced by a range of different factors, for example their personal interests, their socio-economic background and, in particular, their prior qualifications and performance. However, new qualifications that aim to prepare learners for study at university have been introduced quite recently, some qualifications have been withdrawn, and others are being comprehensively reformed. It is therefore crucial to better understand how current qualifications, both academic and vocational, are used by young people to progress to HE. The main aim of this work was to provide detailed quantitative evidence to shed light on this topic. Specifically, the research focused on the following issues: understanding the range of qualifications and combinations of qualifications held by learners aged 16-19 who progressed to different types of HE institutions to study different subjects, and identifying the HE destinations (both institutions and subjects) of learners holding different types of qualifications and of learners with a mixed economy of qualifications.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Post-16 Mathematics qualifications: Differences between GCE A level, International A level, Cambridge Pre-U and Scottish examination questions
    (Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, 2015-06-01) Darlington, Ellie
    This article describes the application of a taxonomy in order to compare and contrast the mathematical skills required to answer examination questions from four different post-16 Mathematics qualifications taken by students both in the UK and overseas: A levels and Advanced Subsidiary (AS) levels, International A and AS levels, Cambridge Pre-U, and Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers. Though the precise content and structure of the different qualifications differ slightly, they are all qualifications which should provide students with a sound basis for university study in Mathematics. All UK universities accept these qualifications as prerequisites for their Mathematics courses. It is therefore of interest to establish whether the questions asked in the assessments of these qualifications require the same kinds of mathematical skills. If there are notable differences among the qualifications, this could suggest that there might be corresponding differences in how well prepared students are for studying Mathematics at university.