Teacher Discussions on Non-Examination Assessment

Qualifications Wales hosted a series of focus group discussions asking teachers to share their perceptions and experiences of non-examination assessment (NEA) in a series of GCSEs. These discussions were held in six different locations across Wales between January and March 2019.

NEA refers to any type of assessment that is not an exam taken by all candidates at the same time. NEA therefore covers a range of assessment activities including coursework, oral assessment, fieldwork, portfolio work and practical assessment.

We hosted a number of focus groups at six different locations across Wales and heard from teachers with experience of NEA in one (or more) of 10 GCSE subjects. The locations were Newport, Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth, Llandudno and Wrexham. For each location we planned one discussion for the following eight subject areas - Art, PE, Drama, Geography, Computer Science, Science, English Language and Literature and Welsh Language and Literature.

The focus group discussions centred around the following topics that were common across each of the subjects:

  1. the principles and purposes of NEA
  2. assessment methods
  3. levels of teacher involvement at task setting, task taking and task marking
  4. experiences of delivering NEA
  5. experiences of addressing NEA.

To enable us to conduct a meaningful number of focus groups in each subject with the resources available to us, we had to select a range of subjects, rather than cover them all. The following criteria were used to help us select subjects:

  • Compulsory and optional GCSE subjects
  • Subjects that assess specific skills through NEA only or through a combination of NEA and written examination
  • A range of levels of control over the task setting, task taking and task marking
  • A range of weightings attributed to NEA
  • A range of assessment methods e.g. oral exams, practical exams, portfolio, fieldwork and performance
  • Subjects from each of the AOLEs except Mathematics (because Mathematics and Mathematics-Numeracy GCSEs do not include an NEA element).

It is anticipated that by using these criteria to select the subjects included, the findings from these focus groups will also be able to be considered in relation to other subjects. The findings from this research will be used to shape the future design and development of qualifications, for example when looking at how qualifications can support the new curriculum for Wales.

For information on how we are using and storing any personal data collected during the focus groups, and participant rights in this regard, the privacy notice can be read on our website.

We will be hosting a follow-up survey during the summer term 2019. More information will be available on our website in due course.