EPQ or General Studies AS?

(22 Posts)
Besta Sun 17-Aug-14 21:07:04

Thanks for all the input, this is so interesting. Apparently dd is already signed up for two of the MOOC courses ("I told you ages ago mum, you just didn't listen") already.

lecherrs Sun 17-Aug-14 21:00:31

Although for some universities (like Russell group Southampton), just doing the EPQ is valued, regardless of what you study it in.

The section from Southampton Uni makes interesting reading, and I would be interested to know what the evidence is that shows students who do the EPQ do better at undergraduate level.

http://www.edexcel.com/quals/project/level3/Pages/university.aspx

Molio Sun 17-Aug-14 20:51:11

EPQ, for sure.

Sparrows12 Sun 17-Aug-14 20:42:22

Hi I posted some ideas about interesting alternatives to the epq here:

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/secondary/2157602-EPQ-help (ie in the other thread below!).

I'm not a big epq fan - not sure the impact justifies the input, when there are so many other ways of differentiating yourself available. i wish i had done more research at the start of Y12. My DD is partway through a history epq and I regret her getting involved in it, not least since she may well end up not applying to read history after all.

EvilTwins Sun 17-Aug-14 18:56:34

It does very much depend on how the school handles it. It was an option for students at my school 6th form a year or two ago, but one teacher was allocated one hour per fortnight to oversee/advise with all of it, which is not enough.

In messy's defence, the pressure many teachers get from management to get grades is impossible to deal with. I expect they would say it was "scaffolding" rather than cheating.

As for there being a viva - it's internally assessed, so not really a viva - an oral examination. A discussion of her work, yes, but not a true viva voce examination.

lecherrs Sun 17-Aug-14 18:17:03

I would say though Messy that any school who helps their students to cheat their way to the EPQ are seriously letting their students down.

I'm centre co-ordinator and we do it properly, by the book. What students get out of it is invaluable, but that's probably because we do it properly.

We teach the students:

* How to research properly (set up Athens accounts / Dawson accounts etc...)
* How to reference accurately
* Really basic stuff like how to skim read / select relevant material / note take effectively.
* How to time manage
* How to structure and write a 5,000 report - esp writing analytically.
* how to overcome problems in their research.

It's always surprising just how much students learn and develop on the course. Yes, most of the marks come from the log, but that doesn't mean it's just a description of what they've done. A good project is one that justifies the choices they make, the steps they take and so on...

Yes, you can cheat. That's always going to be the way with anything coursework based. Same goes with university dissertations too. But, when you do it properly, the students get one hell of a lot out of the course, and are so much better prepared for university. I know our students really value the course and what they get out of it, not just the grade!

Hakluyt Sun 17-Aug-14 17:40:28

It didn't, as far as I know, help my dd secure her place. It did teach her valuable lessons about research and writing and she did indeed do a viva. Please don't assume that because your school cheats they all do.

callamia Sun 17-Aug-14 17:21:24

Messy, this is really interesting. To be honest, many A levels are such poor indicators of HE success, that I'm looking for anything that shows independent thought/willing. Even through such a charade, I would hope that students have learned something, so much of A Level is hoop-jumping. It's not the students' fault, or the teachers, it's the system. We have so little to go on as ATs, that we have to use whatever we can get to make a judgement.

I've been part of a consultation group for one A Level Exam Board for two years, and every meeting we have the same discussion - it goes nowhere, and as a result, the a leveling 'my subject' is a very poor preparation (at best, and at worse, misleading) for degree level study. I know how the system is played, and I enjoy undoing it during first year..,

Besta, I think it's important to consider both sides, and perhaps find out what your daughter really stands to learn from the EPQ. Personally, I still think it's worth it, if only to impress dappy admissions tutors wink

GirlsTimesThree Sun 17-Aug-14 17:12:42

It sounds like it's done very differently where you work messy from my daughters' school. It's sad if it's going to be devalued by schools/teachers/students cheating.
DD2 feels that she got a lot from doing hers and she worked so very hard on it.

RabbitOfNegativeEuphoria Sun 17-Aug-14 17:05:01

At the DDs' school, most of the pupils do the AQA bacc. It seems to go down well with many RG admissions tutors. The kids enjoy doing it too.

messysponge Sun 17-Aug-14 16:53:54

In case you think I sound angry , I am. I am also hurt. I actually resigned from centre co ordinator atthe end of the year because of this. Others though will continue to do it I know.

I wont be back now to say more because I need to change my name so I cannot be tracked down by anyone who might say I am bringing my workplace or profession into disrepute by telling the truth about it.

messysponge Sun 17-Aug-14 16:46:52

You all seem to think its about doing research and a dissertation. In fact most of the marks are allocated on the diary/log which is nothing to do with that. As for a viva - its not , its a presentation. Its nothing like a university project in any way.

As I have said all internally marked Having supervised these things I know how poor the actual EP can really be and still get a grade A, providing the paper trail is in the right place, which makes me feel its a farce.

Its not something I would waste my own time on or that of my DC. Its useful ( like CSL and HSL and similar) as a UCAS booster. That doesnt make it valuable in my understanding of the word.

All other coursework in A level has been stopped yet there seems to be a persistence with this .

But we can disagree cant we? You will have to forgive my cynicism when I was called into the HT's office and he and the assistant head told me to improve the EPQ grades so that they were all A - C. I have spent the last year being closely watched to make sure I produced the goods ( you see before I supervised and gave advice but the work produced was that of the pupils own efforts because I thought that was the way it should be) . Now, I pretty well devise their titles, tell them what and how to research,devise the essay plan and framework wherenecessary and the most important thing of all,the log is completed in detail so that it hits the mark scheme.

I could also tell you a whole load of other ploys ysed by students themselves to ensure the top grades....... when that happens I call it cheating, even if I cannot actually prove it. Its certainly unfair on those poor ddc who are not getting this " support" either at home, from a tutor or via their school.

I think anything therefore that seems to hold such a position of high esteem when it is so open to manipulation is plain wrong. I know I am part of the deception as are the admissions tutors who must know what is going on just as I do, but unlike any of them I will not give this project system credence.

Thanks for explaining what you think is so good about it. At least I see your position if I cannot share it. I am glad it helped your dc secure their places - and as such, it is useful

Hakluyt Sun 17-Aug-14 13:07:29

Well,for my dd it was valuable because she had never written anything so long before. Choosing her topic, researching it and doing a viva were also new experiences.

goinggetstough Sun 17-Aug-14 12:48:28

messy I read your points on another thread and can see where you are coming from. My DC1, a straight A student didn't do an EPQ, but did more than 3 A levels so was busy. My DC 2 was not a straight A grade student and I think it was valuable to him. He learnt research skills on a topic he was interested in, learnt about referencing sources etc and had to give a presentation at the end of it. He organised his research in the summer holidays and completed it in Oct/Nov so it didn't affect his A2s. Now I am not saying that he couldn't have learnt these skills in a different setting of course he could, but this was straightforward way of doing it and he enjoyed it.
His place at university was helped by having an EPQ and most importantly the skills he learnt he has put into practice throughout his successful first year at university.

messysponge Sun 17-Aug-14 12:18:37

I really wish someone wouldexplain to me why it is so "valuable" ( clearly I see a different side of it).

I can see reasons for doing it but I do not see it as in any way valuable.
Sorry to hijack the thread somewhat there.

Hakluyt Sun 17-Aug-14 12:05:43

I think that an EPQ is an incredibly valuable thing to do- dd had to do a lot of independent research for hers, and it was a real learning curve for her doing such a long piece of writing.

Besta Sun 17-Aug-14 12:00:59

So seems like it's overwhelmingly EPQ. DD is a good essay writer/researcher so that might be very doable.
Many thanks, much appreciated smile

Chopchopbusybusy Sun 17-Aug-14 11:54:21

EPQ. Dd2 went to an open day a few weeks ago and was told if she does EPQ they will make a lower offer than without. General studies is a bit of a waste of time.
Having said that DD2 isn't going to do it. She'd rather put all her effort into getting the best possible result on her three A2s. DD1 didn't do it either as she is a maths/science geek and finds essay writing very difficult.

messysponge Sun 17-Aug-14 11:47:21

General studies has no value at all as an ASnowadays.

The EPQ clearly seems to hold some sway with admissions tutors but as a teacher who is a centre co ordinator I would say if your school is good at getting top grades for their students then she might find it worthwhile
(because admissions tutors are clearly naive - sorry callamia but that really is the bottom line)

Also ,if she is acba, it may well offer additional UCAS points for admission if she has a points offer somewhere. Many ofthe students I teach do it for that.

Otherwise its a lot of work and I am bemused at how the marks are allocated frankly. I will say that here asI am anonymous. I say that as as someone who has students who get A* and A grades and this year, no one got below a C grade in EPQ , that included students who failed the majority of their A levels altogether.

But clearly the best advice here is given by the admissions tutors in universities who obviously like it. Good luck.

Besta Sun 17-Aug-14 11:32:07

Really helpful, thanks Callamia. TBH I think hope she will work really hard this year as she's had a shock about her results.

callamia Sun 17-Aug-14 10:24:22

EPQ if she has a topic in mind that is relevant to what she wants to do next, and will do well enough at it. If she can't be bothered though, then there's little point spreading herself more thinly.

I am a massive fan of the EPQ, and this year made decisions to accept students who missed their offer on to our course on the basis of an interesting EP with a good grade (I am an admissions tutor).

Besta Sun 17-Aug-14 10:16:57

Which is best for DD (who hasn't decided whether she is going to resit yr 12 or go on with A2).

She didn't do either in Yr12 (it transpires now she didn't do either as she cba) and if she goes on with A2 (fairly likely I'd say, but always possible she'll change) which one would be best? There's no chance of her doing General Studies A2 in one year is there?

Or should she just not bother with either?

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