Coursework is research – or project-based work – that counts towards a student’s final grade. It may consist of an extended essay, investigation, practical experiments or performance work. Coursework is an excellent way for students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have gained throughout a course. Completing coursework will help a student gain valuable life and work skills. Coursework is done at home and in classtime. Students are encouraged to use research resources such as textbooks, encyclopaedias, journals, TV, radio and the internet.
Coursework must be a student’s own original work, and they will have to sign a declaration to their examination board stating that the work is their own. Teachers also have to sign the declaration to confirm that the work is by the student.
You can encourage your child to spend time on their coursework, do it well, hand it in on time, and stick to the rules. Together with providing a quiet place to study, this will help them to achieve their best. If your child often completes work at the last minute you could discuss with them how and when they plan to do their coursework. Encourage them to think about the project as early as possible so that, if they don’t understand the question or need extra information, they have plenty of time to speak to their teacher.
Teachers can provide guidance on what should be included in coursework projects. They can also explain what they will be looking for when they are marking the project. But the teacher cannot tell students exactly how to do the work – the point of coursework is for your son or daughter to work independently. You can encourage your child to do well and provide them with access to resource materials. You must not put pen to paper – you must not write the coursework. You can discuss the project with them, but you must not give direct advice on what they should, or should not, write.
If your child is not sure how to complete their coursework then encourage them to speak to their teacher to get help. You can also suggest particular books that they might read, or show them how to search the internet for relevant information. You should also encourage your child to use accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar throughout their coursework.
Students can refer to research, quotations or evidence, and they must list their sources. The sources could be anything – for example, books, internet sites, or television programmes.
Students must not plagiarise, copy, purchase essays, or collude with anyone else. This is considered to be cheating and could lead to your son or daughter being disqualified.
Encourage your child to use their own words as much as possible. If they do want to quote or refer to others’ work, tell them to use quotation marks and provide appropriate references. If your child is unsure on how to reference different sources then their teacher should be able to provide examples of good and bad referencing. By referencing their sources correctly your child will avoid being accused of cheating.
Most coursework is marked by your son or daughter’s teacher and then checked by the exam board. Since teachers are familiar with their students’ work as well as books on specific subjects, they will be able to tell if the student did not do the work, or if the work was copied from another source. Exam boards routinely use plagiarism software to carry out checks on coursework.
Encourage your child to complete their work honestly and follow the rules. By taking the time to complete their coursework your child will learn to study independently, research different topics and present different types of projects. These skills will all be valuable when they go to university or enter the world of work.
There are a number of things that could happen. The relevant exam board decides which action is appropriate, but the student may not receive a mark for the work, be disqualified from the whole qualification or part of it, or be barred from entering a qualification with a particular exam board for a period of time.
Coursework takes time and effort, and because it counts towards your child’s final grade it is important that they do as well as they can. You can help by providing a quiet place to work, encouraging them to do their best, and hand their work in on time.
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