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Ideology and Policy (CEIP)
3000 word (60%) Critical Essay Assignment Brief
By now you will be familiar with the ideology of neoliberalism and implementation in education, your knowledge of this will be pivotal for the critical essay. The suggested reading, debates and discussion in class, especially in relation to the first summative assignment will all contribute to this critical essay and for your future as an effective critical practitioner.
Your critical essay task is to plan and write a critical comparative essay relating to the module content using these guidelines and the additional information at the end of the document.
1: Choose one of the following topics:
2: These are general and broad topic areas that are very large and often over-lapping, so what you must do is focus your topic around carefully self-selected two-four themes of your choice.
For example, within the topic of widening participation you may choose to articulate three themes to focus, such as i) tuition fees in HE ii) league tables iii) high stakes examinations.
3: Take your topic/themes and compare and contrast the approaches taken to it in the English OR USA (Neoliberal) education system with one of the following countries:
Social Democratic: Sweden, Finland
Socialist/ Communist: Cuba
Example 1, you may choose the topic of pedagogy and curriculum and one theme may be the narrow curriculum taught at some English Academies, and compare aspects of this with Cuba’s emphasis on a holistic and rounded curriculum. So in this example, the topic is pedagogy and curriculum, one of the 2-4 themes is the narrow curriculum in Academies (you could choose a single school to focus on), and the countries being chosen to compare are England (neoliberalism) and Cuba (Communism).
Example 2, in the previous example above, the topic is widening participation, one of the themes may be tuition fees in HE in neoliberal England, and this could be compared with Social Democratic Finland or Sweden where education is free.
Example 3, another possible example would be the topic of the teaching ‘profession’, and focusing on three themes: autonomy, trust, structure of teacher training in Finland and England. The themes are an opportunity for you select something that interests you, and you will get opportunities to work on refine these in seminars.
To be clear, you cannot choose to compare England with the USA since they are both models driven by neoliberalism. The point of this assignment is you to compare two different ideological models and how they drive the education system. Make sure that you are focused on the chosen two countries, though it is possible to make passing reference to another country if it is relevant.
It may be possible to choose a broad and general topic that is not listed above, also you may choose to select a different country to compare to England/USA (e.g another social democratic country, such as Denmark/Norway; or another emerging far-Left wing State, such as Venezuela/Bolivia/Greece/Spain). Speak to Alpesh about these options.
Think about the combination of your themes and how they can be articulated. For instance, you may want to select all of your issues at one stage/level of education, such as HE, primary schools or a particular key stage. The coherence of the development of your argument is important, and therefore thinking through your essay structure and how the themes combine is key.
There is a great deal of flexibility with this essay and you should pursue something that interests you, and these are only broad guidelines to ensure you meet the main assessment criteria. Your tutor will be happy to talk through your ideas with you.
There are two basic things that the marker will look for in your essay, 1) that you have at least an intermediate understanding of the neoliberal English or the USA education system; 2) you are able to compare this to the approach taken in a country with a different ideology (social democratic or socialist/communist) that drives education policy.
How to set out the five parts of the essay:
1) Student number and tutor name, followed by title: ‘A Critical Essay Comparing the topic of [insert topic] focusing on [insert themes] in England/USA [delete as appropriate] and [insert selected country]’. Please note that you do not need to include a separate front sheet or a critical reflection with the essay submission.
2) Introduction –introduce your chosen country and England or USA in terms of the ideological position of each at its basic level. This is the section to tell the reader what your broad topic is and mention the themes you will write about in the main body of the essay. No detail is needed here.
3) Main body (circa 2600 words) – Here is the place to provide an appropriate history and context of the topic that you are focusing on. For example, if you have chosen to focus on the topic of the teaching ‘profession’ you may wish do some research and describe how teachers in England were once held in high-esteem and a professional career that one would aspire to, and posit that teaching being de-professionalised through the neoliberalisation of education. This history and context of the topic would then set-up discussion of 2-4 themes under sub-headings, for example PRP, OFSTED, and autonomy.
This is just an example and you can choose the topic/themes that interests you the most. The important thing to remember is that you need show how you understand the themes that you are focusing on to be connected to the ideological position of each country, and compare the two countries. You can structure your main body (circa 2600 words) in whichever way suits you best, here are three ways:
Option one – by country:
Country one (e.g. England)
-Topic (e.g. teaching ‘profession’)
- Theme 1 (e.g. Subheading PRP)
- Theme 2 (e.g. Subheading OFSTED)
- Theme 3 (e.g. Subheading autonomy)
Country two (e.g. Sweden)
- Theme 1 (e.g. Subheading pay)
- Theme 2 (e.g. Subheading regulatory body)
Option two – by theme:
- Theme 1 (Subheading e.g. pay)
-country one (e.g. England)
-country two (e.g. Sweden)
- Theme 2 (Subheading e.g. regulatory body)
-country one (e.g. England)
- Theme 3 (Subheading e.g. autonomy)
Option three – integrated narrative:
-Topic (e.g. teaching ‘profession’)
-Comparing both countries as you go along
4) Summary/conclusion – as with any conclusion you need to bring together all the ideas that you have covered in relation to the chosen topic. This means recapping on the themes you have covered, and coming to a position on the topic. Your introduction, main body and conclusion should all be aligned – this is why you should return to your introduction to refine it after you have written the main body and conclusion.
Note: please do not simply copy and paste any part of what you wrote for the mini-essay, your marker will be able see your similarity.
5) Reference list using Harvard. Not a bibliography.
SUBMISSION SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT 2 DEADLINE TUE 3rd MAY 2016, by 3pm Turnitin with the name of uploaded document including your STUDENT NUMBER and the first name of your SEMINAR TUTOR, not your title. For example: 001234567 ALPESH
Submission is via Turnitin only, paper copies will not be accepted; these are the UEL rules: “If you fail to submit to Turnitin, a mark of 0 will be awarded for the component.”
You must engage with academic scholarship in this essay, if you have engaged with the formative/summative tasks, this research will have been started. There are many recommendations of resources in the module guide that you can use to research your topic in England/USA and your chosen country to draw out your main argument. You need to demonstrate that you have accessed research pertaining specifically to both countries and you have extended the points made in the taught sessions, not simply regurgitated them. To effectively do research, you need to know how to journal database search engines, such as BEI, Google Scholar, and ERIC. Using journals shows that you are using the highest caliber of scholarship to underpin your argument.
You should be keeping abreast of policy developments by accessing the news on a weekly basis. These journalistic articles can be used in your essays but you must make sure that you do not rest an argument or come to conclusions based solely on newspaper/magasine article claims. Every time you refer to a newspaper/magazine article ensure that you have academically substantiated this by also referencing academic literature, such as journals like JCEPS.
The key to constructing a strong argument is to avoid excessive description in favour of critical analysis and evaluation. You must support your work with level five appropriate sources, e.g. academic journals and avoiding A-Level texts and certainly Wikipedia. Note: books in the library get loaned out fast, planning your essay is essential.
This is a level five assignment. Think about how to build on your weaknesses from your level one and the mini-essay.
There are three problems that many students encounter:
II) Writing clearly:
III) Elementary mistakes:
There is class time dedicated to exploring these problems and you should also seek help from the Skillszone and the LAAs. These facilities are for all students – for struggling and flourishing students. Book them early, planning is essential.
- Referencing correctly is important. It is your responsibility to be familiar with avoiding plagiarism: Here is UEL’s policy on plagiarism: http://www.uel.ac.uk/aple/academic/plagiarism/
- While it is recommended that you work in small study groups, you must not, under any circumstances, hand your work to anybody else outside of the supervised class room. Here is UEL’S policy on collusion:
- You need to reference your work with research pertaining to both countries to show depth and breadth of research appropriate to an intermediate understanding. There is no optimum number of references, however it is clear that the more research you do, the more informed your argument is likely to be. If you are using statistics, make sure they are the latest that you can find.
- Direct quotations exceeding 50 words do not count in the word count. Do not go over/under 10% of the word limit. You will be penalised.
- Aim to have a complete draft of the essay by 2 weeks before submission. Time management is crucial in year 2. Two weeks before submission MUST be editing and proofreading not writing the essay.
- Avoid the terms ‘you’, ‘we’, ‘them’, ‘they’.
- ‘I’ is appropriate.
- Avoid rhetorical questions and unspecific phrases like ‘I think’ and ‘research has shown’, but do write with confidence by using the language that has been introduced to you in the sessions.
You will be given further guidance throughout the module to supplement these guidelines.