In most centres, the return of AS students following their exams means that you have four weeks or so of time to fill. I think that this is a good time to begin the AQA coursework, essentially sections B and C.
The requirement of this written coursework is for the performer/official to analyse their own performance, and for the coach to analyse a named performer. Each student needs to identify two weaknesses for each of the three areas for assessment – in games these are attack (AA1), defence (AA2), and tactics (AA3). For athletic activities the three areas are the first event (AA1), the second event (AA2) and tactics (AA3).
Section B and C is much easier to complete for the performer and coach, but quite difficult for the official, as much of the analysis and the ideas mentioned below are usually based on movements/skills that are performed incorrectly. Officials perform less movement skills and so tend to analyse their mistakes based on incorrect decision-making, which although appropriate, makes it difficult to provide suitable causes and corrective measures.
In summary, the student uses their knowledge to identify two weaknesses from each of the three areas of assessment, making a total of six weaknesses in all (B1). They then compare each of those six weaknesses to the accurate/perfect performance of the same action by an elite performer (B2). They then suggest possible causes for each weakness (C1) and suitable corrective practices for each weakness (C2).
Many students initially find it difficult to identify ‘weaknesses’. This can usually be solved by asking them if they have ever made a ‘mistake’ when performing. They invariably have! A mistake is not performing properly/well, and is therefore a weakness. This simplistic approach invariably permits students to identify suitable weaknesses. They then need to identify why they made this mistake; what did they do wrong! Quite often, students find it easier to ‘invent’ the occurrence of this mistake. For example, a footballer has invariably attempted a pass, but has mis-hit the ball. This is a weakness, but nobody can ever check whether this mistake actually happened in the match identified by the student.
The majority of students also find it easier to describe the perfect/performance model of a skill (B2) before identifying/describing their own weakness (B1). Let them do this for each of the two attacking (AA1) and defending weaknesses (AA2). It is best to use headings for each aspect of the analysis that they produce – area of assessment; type /description of weakness; name of elite performer performing the perfect model/action. Often an image of the perfect model can be found on the web, and this provides a good starting point for many skill descriptions. Even better is a sequence of images that show the whole skill performance. Different performers can be used for each perfect model, so using John Terry for perfect defensive heading and Wayne Rooney for perfect long-range shooting is fine.
They need to research each perfect model and analyse its performance in terms of ‘preparation’, ‘action’, ‘follow-through’ and ‘result’, or the equivalent phases of skill performance. They also need to state the name of the elite performer and the date and time of the perfect performance of the specific skill (this could be ‘made up’!). In their analysis, candidates should talk primarily about the movements involved, including placement of hands/feet (use estimates of distances), angles of joints (estimate), the movements involved (use correct anatomical terms). This description of the various perfect models and their own variations from that perfect model should be in considerable detail. The more detail the better. They then need to explain, again for each weakness, and again in detail, how the perfect action affected the elite player’s performance and what was it about the skill performance that made it so good. They then need to do the same sort of thing and explain how their incorrect action affected their own performance. This application of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ technique and an explanation of how it affected performance is invariably the most discriminatory aspect of section B and where the higher marks are gained or lost. Some students find this comparison easier as a direct comparison, using two columns for example, to highlight what they do as compared to what the elite performer does.
The larger the proportion of this part of the coursework that can be completed prior to the students returning in September the better. Most students should be encouraged to complete at least four perfect models (B2) and four weaknesses (B1). Better students should be able to even start writing about the tactical weaknesses/perfect models. This is another area where they made need help in understanding the requirements in simpler terms. Tactics and strategies (AA3) do include playing formations and attacking and defensive patterns, but they also include instantaneous decision-making as well as pre-planned decisions. So again at a basic level, if a performer has ever made a poor decision in an activity, then this is a strategic weakness. The perfect model here is the decision for example, to pass to the open player rather than the marked player. Again as much detail as possible needs to be included in the description of the circumstances of the two weaknesses (B1) and the two perfect performances (B2). Make sure the students include the names, times and dates of the incidents. Again each weakness/perfect performance needs to be applied to the performance suggesting how it impacts on the performance.
If all this is completed ready for September, it gives more time for the addition of the causes (C1) and corrections (C2). Some centres even hold the completion of the various aspects of the coursework as a ‘Sword of Damocles’ over the students, suggesting that they are not allowed to return to class until the appropriate amount of work is completed!
In terms of content, I would expect 500-1000 words per weakness/perfect model description which should include accurate anatomical detail, detail of the angles and distances (estimated) and detail of how actions/weakness/perfect model affects the overall performance. I also get my students to make links between B1 and B2 to show the impact of your actions compared to the perfect model.
When the students return in September they hand in their Section Bs and while we look at them and make suggestions how to make them better, they can begin researching potential causes (C1) of each weakness. We invariably supply a list of possible causes and subsequent corrections to them to help them and are usually asked by the students to make suggestions for potential causes and/or corrections.
We get our students to start with a heading naming the cause of one of their weaknesses. Once chosen, the cause needs to be written about in as much detail as possible (at least equivalent to A-level standard). I expect my better students to research each cause to a depth that entails more detail than they received as part of their A-level notes. The only factor to be remembered here is that at least one cause must be from AS topics, and one must be from the A2 part of the course. Beware of using causes that are not part of the course, for example a weakness due to injury, or lack of concentration! For each weakness, the students need to describe a single cause rather than several, and they must also describe how the cause affected their performance. They need to beware describing several causes – ‘my weakness is due to a lack of fitness, mainly stamina, because of my poor circulatory system and hence I have fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen’!
For C2, the students need to identify and explain how the problem (the cause) could be corrected. Again there is a requirement that the correction comes from AS/A2 theory (at least one from each year). Corrective methods such as ‘fartlek training’, ‘varied practice’ or ‘SAQ drills’ are not in the specification and therefore should not be used. Some thought must be given to the corrective measures; they must have an effect. In general, a weakness caused by a lack of fitness is corrected by a certain type of fitness training; a weakness caused by lack of skill is corrected by a certain type of skills practice. You do not develop skill by simply getting fitter, and you cannot correct poor skill performance by circuit training! Students should again start with a heading, naming the corrective measure, and then describe the corrective measure in detail. They must make sure that they don’t wander into other corrective measures – ‘I need to improve my fitness, especially speed – I therefore need to do more interval training to develop muscular strength, especially in my fast-twitch fibres’!
In simple terms, it is apparent that the more frequently a teacher sees a students’ work and comments/advises on their progress, the higher the eventual mark achieved by that student. Many centres set deadlines for receipt of work, with the ‘punishment’ of no assistance/feedback if work is not handed in on time. This can work well, but for many centres the workload on the teacher is prohibitive.