Motivation and Mode: an attempt to measure the attitudes of ‘O’ level GCE candidates to English language

Examinations are now universally recognised as tests of achievement and are commonly perceived as measuring skills in the cognitive domain. In recent years, however, there has been a movement away from the traditional end-of-course written examination paper. In certain subjects, particularly those that have a practical component, teachers are required to make in-course assessments and, as well as giving credit for cognitive skills, they are required to reward such qualities as enthusiasm, perseverance and interest. Besides participating in this way in traditional examinations, teachers have been encouraged, with the guidance of the examination boards, to develop their own syllabuses and conduct their own examinations. This procedure, known in both CSE and GCE sectors as Mode 3, also offers opportunities for teachers to depart from the traditional assessment techniques. The fact that teachers are able to assess coursework using some form of ‘in-course’ assessment is one of the over-riding reasons for teachers wishing to develop their own syllabus.


Both these departures from the traditional type of examination formally recognise that skills in the affective domain, such as attitude and motivation, play an important role in teaching and learning and hence in determining overall achievement. This study investigates one of the major Ordinary Level subjects, English Language, in an attempt to determine the inter-relationships between attitude to English Language as a subject, the method of examination; whether under a traditional (Mode 1) or a Mode 3 scheme; and attainment in the subject (as measured by the grade awarded by the Board).

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