KS4 Coursework

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Science Coursework - ISAs

The coursework for GCSE Science comprises an ISA (Investigative Skills Assessment) which is assessed in two sections.

Prior to taking Section 1 of the ISA test, candidates independently develop their own hypothesis and research possible methods for carrying out an experiment to test their hypothesis. During this research, candidates need to do a risk assessment and prepare a table for their results.

Section 1 of the ISA test (45 minutes, 20 marks) consists of questions relating to the candidate’s own research.
Following Section 1 candidates should carry out their investigation and record and analyse their results.

Section 2 of the ISA test (50 minutes, 30 marks) consists of questions related to the experiment candidates have carried out. They are also
provided with a data sheet of secondary data by AQA, from which they select appropriate data to analyse and compare with their own results.
Students will be asked to suggest how ideas from their investigation and research could be used within a new context.

Students will sit one ISA in Year 10 and one in Year 11. The best mark obtained is entered and will form 25% of the final GCSE mark.

ISAs test the students' understanding of How Science Works and students should be able to:

  • develop hypotheses and plan practical ways to test them, by:
    • being able to develop a hypothesis
    • being able to test hypotheses
    • using appropriate technology.
  • assess and manage risks when carrying out practical work, by:
    • identifying some possible hazards in practical situations
    • suggesting ways of managing risks.
  • make observations, by carrying out practical work and research, and using the data collected to develop hypotheses.
  • demonstrate an understanding of the need to acquire high-quality data, by:
    • appreciating that, unless certain variables are controlled, the results may not be valid
    • identifying when repeats are needed in order to improve reproducibility
    • recognising the value of further readings to establish repeatability and accuracy
    • considering the resolution of the measuring device
    • considering the precision of the measured data where precision is indicated by the degree of scatter from the mean
    • identifying the range of the measured data.
  • show an understanding of the value of means, by:
    • appreciating when it is appropriate to calculate a mean
    • calculating the mean of a set of at least three results.
  • demonstrate an understanding of how data may be displayed, by:
    • drawing tables
    • drawing charts and graphs
    • choosing the most appropriate form of presentation.
  • distinguish between a fact and an opinion, by:
    • recognising that an opinion might be influenced by factors other than scientific fact
    • identifying scientific evidence that supports an opinion.
  • review methodology to assess fitness for purpose, by:
    • identifying causes of variation in data
    • recognising and identifying the cause of random errors. If a data set contains random errors, repeating the readings and
      calculating a new mean can reduce their effect
    • recognising and identifying the cause of anomalous results
    • recognising and identifying the cause of systematic errors.
  • identify patterns in data, by describing the relationship between two variables and deciding whether the relationship is causal or by association.
  • draw conclusions using scientific ideas and evidence, by:
    • writing a conclusion, based on evidence that relates correctly to known facts
    • using secondary sources
    • identifying extra evidence that is required for a conclusion to be made
    • evaluating methods of data collection.
  • review hypotheses in the light of outcomes, by:
    • considering whether or not any hypothesis made is supported by the evidence
    • developing scientific ideas as a result of observations and measurements.

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