A-level Art and Design

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1 A-level Art and Design ARTF1 & ARTF2 Photography: lens and light-based media Report on the Examination 2200 June 2013 Version: 1.0

2 Further copies of this Report are available from aqa.org.uk Copyright 2013 AQA and its licensors. All rights reserved. AQA retains the copyright on all its publications. However, registered schools/colleges for AQA are permitted to copy material from this booklet for their own internal use, with the following important exception: AQA cannot give permission to schools/colleges to photocopy any material that is acknowledged to a third party even for internal use within the centre.

3 General The work produced in schools and colleges included a wide range of traditional and contemporary practice and students engaged with a diverse range of ideas and materials. Fieldwork near to home provided many students with source materials. Others travelled further afield to particular locations, either independently or on fieldtrips organised by their teacher. Projects often started with analytical drawings produced directly from objects or specimens. Some students were selective and creative when they responded to found images. In portfolio extended projects and in the personal investigation, many students were provided with a number of starting points to choose from. However, some teachers provided students with a single, open-ended theme. In other schools and colleges, students devised their own starting points. There were many examples in which students demonstrated their awareness of, and concern for, a range of issues that affect people today. Some students responded to particular events such as conflicts, natural disasters, famine or civil unrest. Others explored more personal issues and events that involved friends, family and personal anxieties. Some of these responses were poignant and sensitively handled. Many schools and colleges provided introductory courses or projects at the start of the AS course. These introduced students to ways of investigating and developing ideas and to materials, processes and techniques. The development of skills and understanding of formal elements was important at AS. In the most successful work, high levels of drawing and observational skill were seen. Students are required to produce an extended personal project in the portfolio. Most students produced one or two projects that were personal in nature and which enabled them to provide evidence of all four Assessment Objectives. Some portfolios included examples of additional work produced in life-drawing classes, in skills-based workshops and from visits to museums, galleries and specific locations. Most students saw the Personal Investigation as an opportunity to work in depth and with increased independence. Sustained and focused investigations had a clear sense of purpose and successful work was coherent and fluent. The highest levels of engagement and enjoyment of art and design were evident in the most successful work that was often interesting, intriguing and exciting. Contextual materials informed the investigation and the development of ideas in different ways. It was not unusual to find examples that were influenced by several artists, each for different reasons and sometimes at different stages of the work. Students demonstrated their understanding of a wide variety of styles and conventions. Work in sketchbooks and on mounted sheets varied in quality. The most successful work provided a clear record of students investigations and the development of their ideas. Many examples were lively, thoughtful collections of work that were very personal and provided insights into a student s thinking. Some students presented their work on mounted sheets in addition to sketchbooks, or entirely on mounted sheets. The more successful students made carefully considered connections between images. Less successful students demonstrated a lack of selection and a cut-and-paste approach. When combined with basic recording skills this approach provided little evidence of a clear sense of direction. Some electronic sketchbooks and PowerPoint presentations were very skilfully organised and were very effective in providing evidence of the Assessment Objectives. Many students chose to include annotations. The most successful students recorded insights and observations that were very helpful. They also made clear the connections between different elements of the work. Some students provided annotations that simply described what they had 3 of 7

4 done, when it was clearly evident in their work. Others produced extensive annotations at the expense of their practical work. Copied and downloaded notes were rarely of value. Most students made use of ICT at some stage in their work, either in resourcing it or in the process of producing it. Digital cameras were used effectively to record good quality source material. Computers and the Internet were often used to access contextual material. For many students, the use of computer software was embedded within their studio practice and was used to manipulate images, to develop ideas and to produce finished work. Scanners, printers, photocopiers and projectors were also used in imaginative and resourceful ways. Administration, marking and moderation In most schools and colleges, mark sheets were completed correctly and were received by the deadline date. Problems occurred when Candidate Record Forms (CRFs) and Centre Declaration Sheets (CDSs) were not completed before the moderation visit. Some CRFs were not signed by the teacher(s) concerned, some did not match up with the work displayed and there were some transcriptional errors between the CRFs and Centre Mark Forms. Teachers comments on the CRFs were often very helpful. Preparation for moderation visits was generally very good. Samples were displayed as an exhibition or presented in folders. Labelling was usually clear, but there were exceptions. Displays were most helpful when different sets of work were clearly separated. Many teachers organised the samples in rank order which is helpful to moderators. Where work from different units of a particular candidate was displayed together it was not always a straightforward task to identify which work belonged to which unit. Most moderators were provided with a quiet, private space to work in. Teachers are reminded that moderation is a confidential process and the moderator must not be asked to mark work in public spaces. Many moderators commented on the positive approach of teachers to the moderation process and to the warm reception they received. However, there were occasions when they felt under pressure to reveal marks, which they cannot do. Familiarity with, and understanding of the assessment objectives resulted in accurate marking in the majority of schools and colleges. Problems generally occurred when teachers awarded their top performing student maximum marks when a lower mark was more appropriate. Many teachers commented on the value of standardisation meetings where examples of work at different levels can be seen. Erratic marking was often linked to non-attendance at these meetings. Assessment Objectives AO1 Successful students demonstrated the ability to develop ideas in a sustained and focused manner. Making reference to the work of other artists, designers, photographers and craftspeople informed the investigation and the development of ideas. This helped students to consider different approaches and to develop their own personal visual language. Analytical and critical understanding was evident in the choices and decisions made by students and in the connections they made between images. Written material often provided insights into students understanding and explained decisions made when developing their work. Less successful work was fragmented and intentions were not always clear. 4 of 7

5 AO2 An introductory project at the start of AS gave many students opportunities to develop a good basic understanding of a range of materials, processes and techniques. The development of skills in handling materials enabled students to articulate their ideas successfully and to refine them as the work progressed. The least successful work lacked basic skills which made it difficult for students to explore ideas. Some experimentation was gratuitous or repetitive and consequently lacked relevance and direction. AO3 Ideas, observations and insights were recorded in different ways. Digital cameras were often used as a tool to record source material. Many drawings and colour studies were fluent, articulate and a very high standard. Some studies were considered and closely observed whilst others were vigorous, expressive and much larger in scale. Ideas for compositions or layouts were often recorded in small sketches and working drawings. Contact prints, printouts of computer generated materials and textile samplers also provided evidence of recording observations and ideas. Students reflected on their work and progress, both visually and in written materials. Some of the least successful students provided large amounts of collected images and annotations which added little to their understanding. AO4 At AS, many students developed their skills and established a foundation of good working practice that enabled them to develop ideas successfully. At A2, the development of a personal visual language was much clearer and more confident. Choices, decisions and connections made in the work, demonstrated critical understanding. The majority of students realised their intentions in work that was clearly the culmination of a period of sustained, in-depth study. A rich variety of ideas and outcomes were seen and many responses were exciting and inventive. Coursework Portfolio (ARTF1) Photography is a popular endorsement and familiarity with the specification led to some very inventive uses of lens and light-based media. Digital photography and editing packages were used to good effect in the majority of schools and colleges. A significant number of students also made good use of traditional techniques. Across all units, digital sketchbooks and presentation packages were used effectively by some students. Some digital sketchbooks included experiments with animation, sometimes with surprising results. Image-sharing websites with restricted access were used to good effect by some schools and colleges. Presentation techniques included projections, slide shows, installations and an increased number of commercially produced books. Many schools and colleges provided an introduction to photography. Some included several mini projects designed to introduce techniques and camera skills to students. An introductory task was often developed into an extended personal project. Most schools and colleges recognised the importance of appropriate contextual references and students benefitted from studying the work of relevant photographers and artists from other disciplines which they used to inform the development of ideas. Some schools and colleges 5 of 7

6 provided a theme for the projects. Many students presented, edited and organised their work carefully. The most successful students demonstrated a good understanding of technique and discrimination in the presentation and analysis of images. Work was well informed, developed personally and reviewed and refined effectively to realise intentions. Presentation was also considered carefully in the more successful work. In less successful work students produced collections of images with little discrimination revealing lack of engagement with the topic. Irrelevant image manipulation was a common feature of this work. Externally Set Assignment (ARTF2) The question paper was considered to be broad enough for students of all abilities. Some schools and colleges seemed unclear about the administration, content and timing of the five hour period of supervised time. Many students used the time effectively to explore the chosen topic, to process and evaluate their first contact sheets and to identify areas for further development. Home This was an open and easily accessible starting point. A wide variety of interpretations was seen including family life, still-life, and exteriors of houses. Some successful responses were seen where students questioned their own life experiences. Some students failed to develop beyond snaps taken at home with little sense of direction and purpose. Contrasts This starting point was interpreted in many different ways, including simple, but effective investigations of lighting, explorations of contrasting moods and atmosphere, and young and old. Some effective investigations resulted where students considered the question in less obvious ways, for example, public and private. Traditional techniques were used effectively by some students. Musical Instruments and Musicians Responses ranged from sensitive studies of musical instruments to musical performances. Some students chose to concentrate on the players themselves and employed various camera techniques to analyse the movement of musicians, sometimes with great success. The least successful work tended to be lacklustre images of local bands, produced without any real intent and lacking evidence of development. Multiple Images Many responses to this starting point explored manipulation techniques using digital and electronic media, although some interesting darkroom work was also seen. Where students had clear intent, the work tended to be more effective. Some students used this question to make comments about issues that concerned them, whereas others chose to explore purely abstract images using a range of techniques. 6 of 7

7 Issues This question offered students the opportunity to consider a wide range of topics. The most successful students explored a topic in depth and included personal research. Sometimes manipulation techniques were used to enhance the mood of an image, and some students displayed a real sense of ownership of their chosen issue. In the less successful work, students tended to choose less robust topics and development floundered as a result. Mark Ranges and Award of Grades Grade boundaries and cumulative percentage grades are available on the Results Statistics page of the AQA Website. Converting Marks into UMS marks Convert raw marks into Uniform Mark Scale (UMS) marks by using the link below. UMS conversion calculator 7 of 7

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