Non Exam Assessment: A Guide for Parents

What is Non Exam Assessment?

Non Exam Assessment or NEA has replaced what used to be known as “Coursework”. In essence they are pretty much the same thing, in other words,  research – or project-based work – that counts towards a student’s final grade. It is considered to be an excellent way for students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have gained throughout a course and their ability to conduct independent research and write up their own project. Completing the NEA will help a student gain valuable life and work skills and for our students doing 2017 exams at least it is done at home. Students are encouraged to use research resources such as textbooks, journals, TV, radio and the internet and importantly to learn how to attribute and reference them.

What rules do students have to follow?

The NEA must be a student’s own original work, and they will have to sign a declaration to their examination board stating that this is the case. Tutors also have to sign the declaration to confirm that the work is the student’s own. This is called “authenticating” the work. Rules regarding submission are currently still the same as for Coursework and are shown on the back of the enrollment form which all students/guardians have to sign before starting our courses.

How can I support my child?

You can encourage your child to plan their project in good time, use a variety of sources which must be properly referenced, hand it in on time, and stick to the rules especially those regarding plagiarism. 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 they can submit at least one draft and if they don’t understand the question or need extra information they have plenty of time to speak to their tutor. This is especially important for distance learners as the deadlines are early and rules are strict.

How much can the tutors, or I, help?

Tutors can provide guidance on suitable titles/topics and what should be included in coursework projects. They can also explain what the Assessment Objectives are and what the exam board will be looking for when the project is being marked. However, the teacher cannot tell students exactly how to do the work or specifically what corrections to make – 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 and nor can the tutor.

If your child is not sure how to complete their coursework then encourage them to speak to their tutor to get help. You can and the tutor can suggest particular books that they might read, or discuss how to search the internet for relevant information. You should also encourage your child to express themselves clearly and most importantly to keep the AOs (Assessment Objectives) in mind. Accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar are also very important.

Are students allowed to quote from books or the internet?

Students can refer to research, quotations or evidence, but they must list and reference 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. There are now very sophisticated internet sites which we and the exam boards use to check work for plagiarism.

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 tutor should be able to provide examples of good and bad referencing. By referencing their sources correctly your child will avoid being accused of cheating.

How is cheating detected?

Currently and in 2017 our students’ coursework or NEA is marked by the exam board, but tutors have to authenticate the work. In other words they have to say that to the best of their knowledge it was produced by the student concerned. To do this the tutor and student have to follow strict guide lines, including the tutor having seen at least 4 Tutor Marked Assignments and at least one draft submission of the project. Tutors become familiar with their students’ work as well as books on specific subjects and 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 and OHS also routinely use plagiarism software to carry out checks on coursework/NEAs.

Encourage your child to complete their work honestly and follow the rules. By taking the time and choosing a topic that interests them, your child will learn to study independently, research different areas and present different types of projects. These skills will all be valuable when they go to university or enter the world of work.

What happens if a student breaks the rules?

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, may 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.

Finally…

Coursework and NEAs  take time and effort, and because it is a substantial part of 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. Please remember however that because you have chosen distance learning, there are strict rules that our tutors must adhere to which may seem harsher than those followed in everyday contact in school.

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