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How the Welsh Baccalaureate impacts on students' university performance

26 Mai 2016

Girl in classroom

Undergraduate Bioscience students who achieved the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma Qualification (WBQ) in addition to three A-Levels, performed less well academically at university than students who only undertook three A-Levels.

These are the findings of a study carried out by researchers at Cardiff University School of Biosciences and the Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD).

The analysis also examined the possible impact of achieving the WBQ on different kinds of university assessments – in other words, does it help to better prepare students for coursework assignments compared to examinations? Researchers found that students with the WBQ were less likely to do well in both coursework and examination assessments.

“This research is important as it has implications both for university admissions policies and for ongoing evaluation of the WBQ” explained Dr Emma Yhnell, one of the authors of the study.

“It also, of course, has implications for students. By understanding the correlation between WBQ qualifications and subsequent academic performance, we can help to ensure that all students get appropriate support during their time at university.”

Further to this research being undertaken, the WBQ has undergone some revisions with the aim of making the qualification more rigorous. Talking about the changes, Dr Yhnell said,

“The recent WBQ reforms have seen the introduction of a graded component, and we look forward to seeing evidence of how these changes impact on students’ university performance.”

The WBQ was introduced to schools and colleges in 2003 as an A-Level equivalent qualification.

The Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD) was established in 2008 to draw together and build upon the existing expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methods and methodologies at the universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, South Wales and Swansea. WISERD undertakes research and capacity building activities that facilitate the development of research infrastructure across the economic and social sciences in Wales and beyond. The WISERD hub is based at Cardiff University.

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