Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fishy Answers

Here's the AQA accepted answers to the question in the previous post, ie the notes that the person marking the paper would see. (Reproduced without permission)

Scientists figures based on research /calculations / data
or scientists sample whole area.

Fishermen based on impression / hearsay /experience
or fishermen fish in well-stocked / limited areas

ignore reasons based on bias

Scientists sample a wider area= 2 marks
Fishermen only fish in well-stocked areas = 2 marks
If no marks gained fishermens’ opinion and scientists’ opinion gains 1 mark


Now the point that I have spent two posts getting to is:

Do you want your kids doing questions like this or would you rather they learnt about how the fish maintains its buoyancy whilst swimming along, how it absorbs oxygen and whether it ever needs to drink?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

In answer to the direct question: yes, I do want my kids answering questions like this. At about the age of 11, though, rather than 16.

The question is, fundamentally, a good one. It's just phrased in a way I could charitably describe as "poncy" (and uncharitably as "wrong") by which I mean the scientists' THEORY is described in the question as an OPINION.

A better way of stating what is essentially the same question would be: Explain the qualitative difference between the fishermen's OPINION and the scientists' THEORY.

2 marks for any child who can correctly identify that the "theory", requires
(a) falsifiability
(b) basis in measured data.

My only real problem with this question is that any child of sixteen should be insulted by it, much as a student of mathematics would be surprised and a bit insulted if one of the questions on their maths GCSE said "David has two apples and Mohammed has one, how many apples do they have altogether?"

Anonymous said...

I'm with you chalky - surely science is about how things work, function and the biology, chemistry and physics of the world.

Anonymous said...

The cleverest pupils would probably give the wrong answer to questions like this.

Opinion shouldn't be replacing factual knowledge in Science

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm thick, but I can't see how you can scientifically conclude the answer from the question. You don't know that the "scientists" sample a wider area - science is littered with people who sample data to get a result they want. They obviously don't sample the whole area.

Likewise, fishermen may fish the areas they are allowed to under EU rules (or similar) rather than well-stocked areas.

The basic idea behind the question isn't too bad, though it should be an example not littered with internal politics. The problem with the 'Science' is that there's far too much of this sort of stuff.

Anonymous said...

Dear God in heaven, that’s not a science question! Science should be about equations, numbers, scientific laws, chemical reactions, rote learning of the periodic table, osmosis in plants; in other words complex facts and difficult theories. Science is NOT meant to be an easy subject; in fact no subject should be easy. The reward comes from disciplining the mind to enjoy hard and challenging subjects.

When oh when are we going to turn the clock back and go back to a time when England had one of the best education systems in the world? In my opinion, this was circa 1950s. Yes, back then children actually got taught something, and it was deliberately made hard and difficult in order to test them and weed out the wheat from the chaff. Learning can’t always be fun and enjoyable, and it should never be dumbed down so that everyone gets a fair crack

All I can say is thank goodness I retired 15 years ago, this kind of tripe would never have been allowed on an exam paper when I started my teaching career

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...my eldest daughter was interviewed at Oxford last week...I never would have stood a chance of getting an interview, much less a place...but looking at this stuff, and comparing it to my science GCEs and A levels, maybe I'm not so dumb after all...

Anonymous said...

I just want to play devil's advocate for a moment here and ask: isn't knowing the answers to questions like these more useful and important to being a functioning member of society than knowing how the fish maintain buoyancy, or absorb oxygen? Who cares whether or not fish need to drink, when what really matters is if I don't listen to the scientists, I'll run out fish to catch and lose my source of income?

MarkUK said...

My views on non-scientific science have been expressed on these pages before. What amazes me is that some people think that such guff as this is preparation for a career in science.

Mind you, I have never seen any point in learning the periodic table by rote; much better is knowing how to use it. Similarly, "everything should be made as simple as possible - but no simpler". (A Einstein)

Nor do I see why being able to give an answer to the question asked is more appropriate for modern living than knowing why things float or sink.

I can see a place for such a question, though toughened up a bit. It would be ideal for a 6th form discussion group with people studying different subjects. Mathematicians, scientists (of all disciplines), economics students and those doing politics could use their brains to attempt a consensus.

They'd probably fail, but the intellectual discipline would be really useful in teaching them how to make a case.

Anonymous said...

In reply to the anon 17:22 above:

Where will these scientists, whom you intend to listen to, actually come from? Because with science exam questions like the example above, they won't be British educated.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone ever learn the Periodic Table by rote - like you might do with times tables (a good reason for rote learning, of course) ? I was at school in the 70s and I certainly didn't then.

I couldn't probably get past the first dozen or so. Isn't it more important to know how they interrelate, what the characteristics of various groups are, and information about a few in particular ?

Anonymous at 17:22 ; it is worth being able to interpret things and understand bias etc, but you have to have the core knowledge to do so, otherwise you are simply parroting the views of other people.

... Which is probably what this cretinous government want, a bunch of halfwits who assume that 'scientists' or 'statisticians' tell the truth obviously and are always unbiased. Like on knife crime.

Anonymous said...

That question was load of rubbish. No place in a biology exam. - maybe related to study of the economy or how the world works or modern politics etc.

Whenever my wife buys fish such as plaice, I am amazed at how small they are - they are being fished out of existence - only the tiddlers are left now.

The problem lies with the left wing politics of jealousy - they are jealous that some children are brighter than others - they absolutely hate it - so they dumb down the exam papers so that all can score "high marks" - but as one comment says - without advanced and disciplined learning and pushing children to get the best results - where will future scientists come from? Brighter children are being held back by teaching them all to the same lower level.

And I have nothing to do with teaching or science - I run a tyre business.