Biology National 4 & 5 Assessment

(Subject-specific post alert! Hope some biology teachers find it useful)

This week, I was at the SQA National 4/5 Science event to gen up on the N4 & N5 Biology qualifications. One of the main queries from practitioners was what would happen to students who didn’t pass the external assessment for N5. The response was that the system is meant to be hierarchical; therefore, most of the students who fail the external assessment for N5 should have generated enough evidence for them to pick up the N4 Added Value Unit and, consequently, the N4 certificate. Schools will have until the following February to present evidence for these kinds of candidates to the SQA.

Regarding assessment evidence, for (all of) N4 and the internally assessed parts of N5, SQA are going to publish 3 “assessment support packages” in the next 6 months. One of their comments was “you’ll probably need to clear some cupboards”; they also said that schools may need to put systems in place to make sure each pupil has all the documentation they need.

Couple of dates:

28th Feb ‘13 – National 5 specimen paper + marking scheme published

April ’13 – National 5 specimen coursework published; National 4 Added Value Unit support published.

Below I’ve tried to summarise what was said specifically about National 4 & 5 Biology.

National 4 Biology

*Students must pass each unit (all internally assessed) – a pass is equivalent to Int1-C or SG-4*

1. Cell Biology

2. Multicellular Organisms

3. Life on Earth

(4. Added Value Unit)

Assessment of Units 1, 2 & 3

Students must meet Outcome 1 & Outcome 2 (see below for detailed outcomes) for each unit.  A number of different types of evidence can be used to meet the outcomes, but SQA are indicating:

Outcome 1 – Investigation

Outcome 2 – Report, “bank of questions” (end of unit test?)

Outcomes 1 & 2 together- Portfolio

*On 31/10/12, 28/2/13 & 30/4/13 SQA will publish unit assessment support packages*

Added Value Unit

Students will select and investigate a topical biological issue which has a negative or positive impact on society or the environment. (This does not need to be a practical.)

In no more than 8 hours students will gather information on the subject. Teachers will “provide overall guidelines for the assignment to lead the learner through the assignment in clear stages”; they “may also give learners support and guidance to help them progress through each stage”.

Assessment of Added Value Unit

Following the information gathering stage, there will then be a 2 hour open-book assignment / assessment “under some supervision and control”.

Assessment is internally assessed in line with SQA guidelines and based on:

  • Justification for choosing topic of investigation
  • Research taken from relevant sources
  • Presentation of information (in table, graph, diagram, etc)
  • Description of the biology of the issue & its impact on society or the environment
  • Communication of findings of investigation. Could be:
    • Written report, oral presentation, digital presentation, learning log, blog, journal

National 4 Biology – Assessment Outcomes

Outcome 1

The learner will apply skills of scientific inquiry and draw on knowledge and understanding of the key areas of this Unit to carry out an experimental / practical investigation.

Assessment Standard Evidence required
1.1 Planning an experiment/practical investigation The plan should include:an aim

a variable to be kept constant

measurements/observations to be made

the resources

the method, including health and safety considerations

 

1.2 Making and recording observations/measurements accurately1.3 Presenting results in an appropriate format Units used appropriatelyOne format per Unit from: table, graph, chart, key, diagram, flow chart or other appropriate format
1.4 Drawing  valid conclusions Include reference to the aim
1.5 Evaluating experimental procedures Suggest an improvement

Outcome 2

The learner will draw on knowledge and understanding of the key areas of this Unit and apply scientific skills.

Assessment Standard2.1 Making accurate statements Evidence requiredOne for each of the key areas

 

2.2 Describing a biological issue in terms of the effect on the environment/society The description should include the biology of the issue
2.3 Solving problems One of each per Unit:

  • make generalisation/prediction
  • select information
  • process information, including calculations

 

National 5 Biology

*Students must first of all pass Units 1-3 (internally assessed); they are then graded on an assignment and question paper (both externally assessed)*

*National 5 A – D is equivalent to Int2 A – D; National 5 C is equivalent to SG 2 *

1. Cell Biology

2. Multicellular Organisms

3. Life on Earth

(4. Assignment)

Internal Assessment of Units 1, 2 & 3

Students must meet Outcome 1 & Outcome 2 (see below for detailed outcomes) for each unit.  A number of different types of evidence can be used to meet the outcomes, but SQA are indicating:

Outcome 1 – Investigation

Outcome 2 – Report, “bank of questions” (end of unit test?)

Outcomes 1 & 2 together- Portfolio

*On 31/10/12, 28/2/13 & 30/4/13 SQA will publish unit assessment support packages*

External Assessment – Question Paper (80% of grade)

  • 2 hour exam; marks distributed approximately proportionally across the 3 units.
  • 2 sections
    • “Objective Test” (???????) – 20 marks
    • “Paper 2” (restricted / extended response questions) – 60 marks
    • ~55 marks for applying K&U, ~25 marks for inquiry, analytical, problem solving skills

External Assessment – Assignment (20% of grade)

  • Students will select and investigate a topical biological issue which has a negative or positive impact on society or the environment. (This does not need to be a practical.)
  • In no more than 7 hours and “under a high degree of supervision and control”students will gather information on the subject. There will then be a 1 hour open-bookcontrolled assessment. Students must present evidence of:
    • The process undertaken
    • Biology K&U related to the topic
    • Application of the topic
    • Evaluation of the impact on society / the environment
    • A reasoned conclusion

National 5 Biology – Assessment Outcomes

Outcome 1

The learner will apply skills of scientific inquiry and draw on knowledge and understanding of the key areas of this Unit to carry out an experimental / practical investigation.

Assessment Standard Evidence required
1.1 Planning an experiment/practical investigation The plan should include:an aim

a hypothesis

a dependent & independent variable

variables to be kept constant

measurements/observations to be made

the resources

the method, including health and safety considerations

 

1.2 Making and recording observations/measurements accurately1.3 Presenting results in an appropriate format Units used appropriatelyOne format per Unit from: table, line graph, chart, key, diagram, flow chart, summaries or other appropriate format
1.4 Drawing  valid conclusions Include reference to the aim
1.5 Evaluating experimental procedures Suggest an improvement with justification

Outcome 2

The learner will draw on knowledge and understanding of the key areas of this Unit and apply scientific skills.

Assessment Standard2.1 Making accurate statements Evidence requiredOne for each of the key areas

 

2.2 Describing a biological issue in terms of the effect on the environment/society The description should include the biology of the issue
2.3 Solving problems One of each per Unit:

  • make generalisation/prediction
  • select information
  • process information, including calculations
  • analyse information

 

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