Sunday 2 January 2011

Making Your Research Suitable For Outreach

Last Tuesday I was able to catch up with good friend Dave Hone of the Archosaur Musings blog. He mentioned that grant application forms are more frequently asking (nay, demanding?) applicants to demonstrate how they will engage in outreach relating to the specific research project for which they are applying for funding, something he later posted about on his blog.

Dave said it was no simple task, given the complexity and perhaps obscurity of [insert name of Dave's project here]. Nonsense! said I. And I grabbed a copy of the A2 Biology textbook for my exam board and shoved the pages about evolution, speciation and adaptation in his face. What came out of that discussion was that a) very few researchers have a scoobies what criteria are examined in high school qualifications, b) knowing this would certainly make grant applications a little easier, and c) it would be awesome if a fantastic, selfless and damn sexy lecturer-blogger could put together the details. They weren't available, so I said I'd do it.

Of course, this will be of absolutely zero interest to any researchers outside of the UK, and for now this will be simply those assessment criteria relevant to evolution, ecology and palaeontology. If there are sufficient requests from readers for other fields (e.g. biochemistry, physiology, inverts etc) then make them known.

There are three English examining boards: Edexcel, OCR and AQA. Additionally, there is one Welsh board, WJEC/CBAC and a Northern Irish board, CCEA. All five of these offer GCSEs, sat at age 16, and A-Levels, sat at age 18. There are other qualifications, such as baccalaureates and BTECs, but they are not as common, nor, have I found, is there as much opportunity for the discussion of evolution and palaeontology. There is also a Scottish examining board, SQA, of which the most common qualifications are Standard Grades and Highers. I'll try to tackle SQA as well, with the caveat that I am not as familiar with these examinations as I am with GCSE and A-Level.

Rather than looking at each board individually, I intend to divide as follows:
When I've finished each, I'll update the links.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this Julia, this really will be very useful. It's hard to get hold of this information and synthesise it effectively for a grant application. Even since I did my GCSEs and A-levles (and it was NOT that long ago) the syllabuses have changed substantially and even the names of the exam boards are completely different. This is only going to be even harder for non-UK people writing research grants with NERC or BBSRC as well. This will be of great help and should not only help people like me write grants, but also to produce better sci comms stuff that will be targeted where it can be used best or fits with the actual core requirements.



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