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Exploring the problematic nature of GCSE examining in Economics and Business: Assessing troublesome knowledge, threshold concepts and learning

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posted on 01.10.2015, 14:27 by Andrew Kenneth Ashwin
This thesis focuses upon assessment of learning at General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) level. Approaches to learning, lecturers’ conceptions of teaching, students’ conceptions of learning, threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge have all been the focus of research at higher education but there has been limited work into the relevance of these fields to learning prior to higher education. This thesis surveys the research in higher education and applies some of the concepts to assessment, teaching and learning at lower levels of the education hierarchy. It looks at the extent to which students at GCSE level might be expected to begin the journey of thinking in the subject in the fields of economics and business. Teachers are a key influencer of assessment outcomes at GCSE level but their approach to teaching and their conception of learning may be influenced by the assessment framework in which they are operating. Analysis of student responses to examination questions, the extent to which teachers at this level can agree on evidence of learning and what an assessment is designed to achieve and teachers’ conceptions of learning will be studied at GCSE. The results of this research suggest that a reconceptualisation of the assessment objectives, which frame the specifications at this level and provide a focus for curriculum development, could influence the way students are taught and the way in which teaching and learning programmes are put together. Such a change could help to reduce the asymmetry between students and teachers and encourage teaching and learning which helps students to ‘think in the subject’ and champion deep approaches to learning.



Rayner, Steve

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School of Education

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University of Leicester

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