|This article does not cite any references or sources. (September 2009)|
Coursework is work performed by students or trainees for the purpose of learning. Coursework may be specified and assigned by teachers, or by learning guides in self-taught courses. Coursework can encompass a wide range of activities, including practice, experimentation, research, and writing (e.g., dissertations, book reports, and essays). In the case of students at universities, high schools and middle schools, coursework is often graded and the scores are combined with those of separately assessed exams to determine overall course scores. In contrast to exams, students may be allotted several days or weeks to complete coursework, and are often allowed to use text books, notes, and the Internet for research.
In universities, students are usually required to perform coursework to broaden knowledge, enhance research skills, and demonstrate that they can discuss, reason and construct practical outcomes from learned theoretical knowledge. Sometimes coursework is performed by a group so that students can learn both how to work in groups and from each other.
Plagiarism and other problems
Plagiarism and copying can be problematic in graded coursework. Easily accessible websites have given students opportunities to copy ideas and even complete essays, and remain undetected despite measures to detect this. While coursework may give learners the chance to improve their grades, it also provides an opportunity to "cheat the system". Also, there is often controversy regarding the type and amount of help students can receive while performing coursework. In most learning institutions, plagiarism or unreasonable coursework help may lead to coursework disqualification, student expulsion, or both.
- In the UK
The Joint Council for Qualifications is empowered to disqualify students for plagiarism. Also, coursework is gradually being removed from the GCSE course and replaced by a system where all of the grade comes from either a series of modular assessments over the course of the course and/or a "final exam". In other situations, coursework has been designed to be performed under exam conditions over a period of time, which lowers the possibility of cheating. In the majority of subjects at GCSE, coursework has been replaced by "Controlled Assessment", where students must complete coursework under exam conditions. The rules of controlled assessments are as follows:
- Must be completed under timed exam conditions
- During planning time teachers may not provide feedback to any work produced
- During planning time students may not draft their work, only notes and research can be carried out.