An investigation of some differences in A-level mathematics syllabuses in England and Wales

Jennings, Trevor Vernon (1996). An investigation of some differences in A-level mathematics syllabuses in England and Wales. PhD thesis The Open University.



At the time when this study began, there were nine boards offering Advanced Level Mathematics syllabuses. Some of the boards offered three,and sometimes four versions of A-level Mathematics. The study looks at these various forms from a number of different standpoints.

The first of these is a consideration of the 'readability' of the question papers themselves, using the Cloze Procedure. The data is analysed by a three-way, fully crossed, analysis of variance.

The work then moves on to consider the structure of the various papers.It then proceeds to analyse questions from the papers under various headings. The method is a substantial modification of a method used by the GCE examination boards in cross-moderation studies.

A questionnaire was developed to explore the opinions of sixth form teachers, regarding the various versions of A-level Mathematics. The opinions of university staff were also sought. The question as to whethersome A-level courses are better preparation for university mathematics courses is addressed. Results of students at A-level and in the first year university mathematics examinations are compared. The students who participated in the 'readability' exercise were also interviewed, after looking at further questions from a selection of A-level Mathematics papers.

During the course of this study, a number of boards have started to offer modular, or unit based, courses. This significant development is considered towards the end of the study. Two schools and a sixth form college were visited, each one using a different modular A-level syllabus. An account of the observations is given.

The study closes with a discussion of the findings from the various themes and makes suggestions for possible improvements.

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