SINGAPORE: More than a third of GCE coursework subjects will have their assessment tasks reduced, in light of the shift to full home-based learning and adjustments to school holidays amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) said reduction will now apply to 12 out of 34 subjects with a coursework component, including N(A)-Level Food & Nutrition, O-Level Design and Technology and A-Level H2 Theatre Studies and Drama.
Previously, only two subjects had their coursework requirements adjusted, namely N(T)-Level Music and O-Level Exercise and Sports Science.
SEAB said the move aims to “alleviate stress on students and teachers ... without compromising the validity of the assessment".
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According to the exam board, the recent "circuit breaker" measures - such as bringing forward the mid-year school break - have implications on coursework with deadlines originally due in late July or early August.
Teachers will also be focusing on preparing students for preliminary exams when school reopens, SEAB said, adding that it considered if students would need access to special facilities or tools, or if they had to perform in groups, before making its decision.
The 12 GCE coursework subjects affected are:
- N(T)-Level Music Syllabus T
- N(T)-Level Food Studies
- N(T)-Level Design & Technology (Revised)
- N(A)-Level Food & Nutrition
- N(A)-Level Design & Technology (Revised)
- N(A)-Level Design & Technology (Legacy)
- O-Level Food & Nutrition
- O-Level Design & Technology (Revised)
- O-Level Design & Technology (Legacy)
- O-Level Exercise & Sports Science
- O-Level Drama
- A-Level H2 Theatre Studies & Drama
TEACHERS AND STUDENTS RELIEVED
St Margaret's Secondary School has 12 students taking O-Level Drama this year. With the adjustments, the students will need to perform an individual piece, instead of an individual piece and a group piece.
"My students have actually finished writing their script. It's fine, as I explained to them, the learning is not lost," teacher Kwang Wan Yi said.
“Whatever they have created in their devised piece still helps to develop their analytical skills,” added Ms Kwang.
“The ideas of stage design, character motivation and vocal quality of characters can still be applied to other components.”
She added that she was "relieved" as the adjustments would give her students more time to focus on the written examinations, which will include an extract from a play that will be issued to them.
But she noted that her students are disappointed because they were looking forward to performing their group-devised piece.
Secondary 4 student Kwan Jia Xin said: “It was supposed to be our last piece before leaving secondary school and possibly the last time many of us would be performing.
"It saddens me that we could not perform one last time together."
But she added that they would not have been able to put up as good a performance since they were spending a long time away from school, which has hindered their progress.
“We need to be physically present in the same place to rehearse our piece and we are unable to do that during this home-based learning period.”
Victoria School student Harshen Koban, who is taking his O-Level Exercise and Sports Science examinations this year, needs access to facilities such as his school gym. This is so he can keep in shape for his chosen activities – cross country and hockey.
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With the circuit breaker in place, he is doing simple body weight exercises at home or going for runs around the neighbourhood, but he is worried his grades will be affected.
“It may not exactly be the same environment as what we are assessed on,” said Harshen.
The SEAB adjustments mean he can now focus on one sport, with assessment tasks also being reduced.
"It's given us more time to focus on training for that particular sport," said Harshen. "If we have more time to train, then I think it will be an advantage for everyone."
INITIAL CONFUSION ABOUT WEIGHTAGE
Harshen said he was "confused" about the weightage of the various components after the adjustments were announced. Among the coursework components, the two sports activities were supposed to account for 40 per cent of his grade, while a development log was to count for 20 per cent.
SEAB said that these will be "scaled appropriately". For O-Level Exercise and Sports Science, this means the remaining practical activity will now have a weightage of 40 per cent, while the weightage for the development log remains unchanged.
His teacher Sheikha Fadzleen said one of the biggest challenges during this period is updating the development log.
Students normally have to log an eight-week to 10-week training plan, but this came to a halt during the home-based learning period as it required strict teacher supervision.
They have been given a two-week extension to their submission deadline. Mdm Sheikha said: “Even with the two weeks' extension, to be honest, it will be really quite a rush as well.
“So our focus will be to complete the development log and at the same time ensure that the students are fairly assessed.”
She said the school is hoping to give students about three weeks to train for their sport before assessing them, since competitions such as the National School Games have been suspended.
"It's not about doing that 100m just one time, it's about training for it, and then for us to be able to at least give them two to three times of assessment,” said Mdm Sheikha.
“We want to make sure that they are assessed when they are at their best physical state, because we don't want to disadvantage them at all.”
SEAB is also allowing special provisions. The exam board will consider timings or footage recorded as far back as last year, which the school is helping students to collate.