[A] judgement about whether one subject is ‘harder’ than another depends very much on who happened to take those subjects. And if the characteristics of the entry change, so would the supposed difficulties.This to me is the root of the problem; the very idea of two tasks being "equally hard" fails to take into account how "hard" is measured as regards the people selected for those tasks. There's also a brilliant point made by Goldstein and Cresswell that for any A-level with an average mark of X%, one could construct a sufficiently easy (or difficult) spelling test that would have an X% pass mark as well, but it would not be sensible to refer to them as "equally hard"; the differences in the two tasks make the comparison ridiculous.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Teach Them HARD! Redux
Since Chemie was kind enough to offer some links on the subject of A-level difficulty/desirability, I have a quick peruse of the TSR page on the matter. More specifically, I looked up the paper it referred to, which can be found here. It's worth a quick look, if you have time. Page 111 has the graph of their results (short analysis: science subjects are amongst the hardest, Spielbergo's sister can be rest assured that music is really tough too, Gooder might be annoyed to find that almost the only thing claimed to be easier than sociology is film studies), but it's also worth looking at Section 9.1 (beginning p115), which describes some of the criticisms of the method, that match and expand upon some of my concerns going into this. Section 91.4. in particular reminds us that: