Debbie Williams, Computer Science, IT and Creative iMedia Subject Advisor
In this blog I’ll share some hints and tips for marking and providing support and feedback to students undertaking the NEA tasks for Cambridge Nationals.
Once students start the NEA task they are not on their own. You can give general feedback and support. This may mean adding a starter activity to a NEA lesson, or even taking a lesson out to revisit a key learning point.
For example, if you notice that students are struggling to produce evidence for one of the tasks, you could have a starter activity which revisits a good example of the evidence you used in the teaching phase, and use it to highlight what is required of them. Another starter could be revisiting the mark criteria and what you are looking for to achieve each mark band.
You may also choose to use an entire lesson to recap applying knowledge, skills and understanding before the students start the next task of their NEA. This again could be revisiting a previous learning experience or something new. It can’t be linked in any way to the scenario for the live assignment. You can also support them to manage their time and what you are expecting from them to assess.
The student guide to the NEA (which you should give to students before they start the assessment) states that you can:
What you can’t do is coach individual students and provide specific advice and guidance to them for their NEA tasks. You also can’t provide any writing frames or templates to guide them. You must not give detailed advice and suggestions to individuals or the whole class on how work may be improved to meet the marking criteria This would constitute malpractice.
The unit recording sheet (URS) lists all the strands and criteria you are assessing against. Appendix B in the specification explains the command words for each of the mark band criteria so this is also helpful to support you to decide where the work sits. The candidate style work and the newer candidate exemplars are useful to judge your students work against. The most recent moderators’ report also makes interesting reading before you begin so you can see common issues and misconceptions.
You need to send a unit recording sheet (URS) to the moderator for each students’ work. You should upload them all together in one folder not in individual students folders. This is your opportunity to explain to the moderator why you awarded the mark you did for each strand.
The sample requested will be for 15 students’ work. The dilemma I always faced was whether to spend time completing the URS for every student when I marked them or whether to record the marks somewhere for each section then complete the URS when I got the sample request. It really is personal choice.
If you have a small cohort, it may be worth completing the URS for them all as you mark. If your cohort is larger, then it is probably worth waiting for the sample. I found it was sometimes tricky to remember why I awarded a particular mark, so I used a spreadsheet to record marks and notes for the URS then, when the sample request came, expanded my notes to be sentences for the students in the sample and mail merged them into the URS. I found this method speeded up getting the sample ready as I didn’t need to remark the sample students to remind myself why I had awarded the marks.
I would also move the students’ work into my own folders while marking so that it was ready to be zipped for the sample. As there are only three working days to send the sample, this meant I wouldn’t have to go back and look for the students’ work - which they had often moved or deleted when it was finished!
You may find it helpful to review my blog post Completing unit recording sheets for Cambridge Nationals IT and iMedia before you start completing the URS.
To answer this question, I am writing individual blogs for each unit for IT and Creative iMedia. These will give you an overview of what each strand is referring to, as well as guidance on using the command words.
It’s up to you and what suits you and your students best. If I was teaching, I would give general feedback to students after they had submitted all their tasks unless I saw an issue when marking task 1 that would impact on a student’s ability to complete task 2. I would choose this approach so it was easy to manage the reattempt process. I could ensure that I wasn’t giving the opportunity for students to use an iterative process where they make modifications through ongoing feedback as this is not allowed.
Giving feedback when all their work is submitted would be an easier way to manage the reattempt process, allowing all students to reflect on feedback and improve their work. I could also then set a final deadline for all reattempts to be handed in for final marking.
Section 6.2 of the specification states
“Before submitting a final mark to us, you can allow students to repeat any element of the assignment and rework their original evidence. But any feedback given to students on the original (marked) evidence, must only be generic and must be recorded and available to the moderator.”
This is referred to as a reattempt. Students should be given time to reattempt their work. This time is not included in the guided learning hours (GLHs) given for the assignment, so students should have extra time over and above the time they have already been allocated. Your scheme of work needs to factor in this time.
Section 6.3 of the specification gives lots of guidance on giving feedback and what is allowed. Essentially, feedback must be supportive, encouraging, and positive. It must also tell the student what you have noticed, not what you think. For example, you could notice that their planning is limited as they have only produced a mind map. You think they need to add more detail and include additional planning documentation to improve their mark.
The feedback you can give would be that their mark for the mind map for the planning strand is limited and they need to revisit the marking criteria which states design tools (plural) are required. You can’t advise them to add a visualisation diagram. You could back up this feedback with revisiting as a class the planning tools you taught them and showing good examples of the work classmates produced in the teaching phase to remind them of the expectations. You could also ask them to go back to their own notes or work they produced to support them to see what they need to add.
Students should be given an indication of the mark band their work sits in, but it is up to them to make their own decisions on what to improve and how. Feedback must help the student to take the initiative in making changes. It must not direct or tell the student what to do to complete or improve their work in a way that means they do not need to think about how to apply their learning.
If you have any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_ICT. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive information about resources and support.
Debbie joined the computing team in September 2022, bringing her knowledge as a teacher and subject leader for IT, Computing and Creative Media. She has over 20 years’ experience of education working in various settings including state schools, private specialist provision, local authority, and as a marker and moderator for exam boards. She has a degree in Technology Management, a PGCE and a Masters in Teaching and Learning.