How to Approach Your Technology Coursework





Introduction: How to Approach Your Technology Coursework

About: Retired technology teacher - 2 kids, I have an Hons deg in Design and Technology - 28 years as Computer systems engineer Trained as Electronics engineer in the Royal Air Force

This instructable and the attached pdf file show in a simple step by step approach how to achieve good results in the UK GCSE Technology exam. It is specifically aimed at product design but applies to all technology exams.

Step 1: Why Students Fail

The aim of this hand book is to guide you through the process of designing and making in a way that will ensure you meet all of the requirements of the exam board.

This is a step by step approach and none of the steps should be missed out.

Success is a product of the effort you put in. The majority of students fail because they:

Miss out sections of the project
Do not meet the required deadlines
Produce poor quality, rushed or incomplete work.
Waste time in class when they should be working
Fail to complete work at home for Homework or during holidays.

Step 2: How to Get High Grades

Factors leading to higher grades include

Projects that stretch the candidate in terms of overall difficulty (concept, skills, techniques)

The design development of the product is clearly shown and reasons arc given for decisions made

Clear, dimensioned views, using CAD, are offered to aid manufacture

Less time is spent on the folder than the making

Quality of manufacture and finish is appropriate and of high quality

Awareness of CAM is shown in parts of the project

CAM is used to aid manufacture, if appropriate

Consideration is given to commercial market needs and a system is suggested to produce the product in numbers.

Projects are reviewed and tested throughout the making process (project diary)

Step 3: The Help Booklet

The attached pdf file contains a booklet written for our students to guide and help them succeed.



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    18 Discussions

    I can't do better than direct you to the picaxe forum. Explain your problem, with pictures of your board etc and a circuit diagram even if you have to hand draw it and they will help you.

    The main issue with not programming is the power supply so double check that.

    In the end even if your project doesn't work - BUT is complete you can still get 90% of the marks provided you understand and explain why it isn't working and that you have run out of time. You are making a prototyep on a limited time scale the exam board and your teachers have to be reasonable if you have made a decent effort and mark what you have done.

    Ah now I completely screwed up my coursework for tech, teacher wasn't there and that was during a bad phase of being stoned in school constantly and being hungover all the time, however I got 98 & 99% in all my exams for technology so i ended up with a C grade...

    3 replies

    Mmmm you get out what you put in! Many students are unaware that time passes very quickly and they need to keep on top of their work, Letting it slide is a recipe for failing or at least not doing as well as you could. Good grades come from organisation not necessarily from being smart! If you intend to go to university get a grip on yourself and get organised or you won't cope! believe me. AND the temptations will be even bigger to slope off and do whatever seems preferable to working.

    Aye, know what you mean there, wised up a lot, now in tech, independent studies do make the temptations to be lazy or procrastinate much bigger. On another note that was particularly condescending...

    OK I am a teacher by profession and a senior students tutor - i see many every year go down the same route having decided to dedicate another 6 years to their education and the toss it away - i long ago stopped saying the pleasantries every one mutters in these circumstance and started tell it how it is. However I know little about you and you sound like you have sorted yourself out now - hopefully others will read this an react early enough to make the difference. If I sounded condescending I apologise. But please you recognise the situation ;)

    Cool I just moved to Europe and I'm going to a British school this will help me with my GCSE's next year.

    1 reply

    I forgot to say the folder should be between 20 and 30 A3 pages long single sided each page full and the design should take about 17 hours of work and the making about 28 hours making a total of about 40 hours for the project.

    This all is dependent on what your sons school says. But that is the exam boards opinion on the subject. OCR will do it in A$ or electronic format i.e. on a CD AQA will take the project on a CD in power point but few schools do it.

    The folder is easy -

    A web diagram to show how the projects he might do have been searched fro - Cover a range - home work toys leisure with typical projects in each category. For the Robot select toys and expand to investigate what might be involved;
    Micro - picaxe - Arduaino - Basic Stamp. Motors driver, Motors , gear boxes, Wheels, LEDs, Body work, Plastics, Modelling, Infra red control, radio control, wire control, Intelligent robots. Object avoidance, Light seeking, line following.
    End user and their needs/expectations, Safety,

    From this he can create a brief. This is a description of the problem he is trying to solve. (NOTE not the solution)
    From the Brief and the analysis he will know what to research, his research should be very focused on what he needs (hence the analysis), work from several sources, books, internet, magazines.
    from the research he can formulate a specification. This is his solution to the brief. It should describe the functionality of the product. i.e. what it must do, perhaps what it might do as well as any safety issues.

    From the specification he can produce some ideas (perhaps 10 or so) of how he can go about doing the things it says the product will do.

    From the best of his ideas he can select those things that will go into the final product - the development. this includes orthographic drawings of every part he has to make. A plan for manufacture and a costings chart. and some 3D modelling.

    MAke it

    test the product against the specification.

    Evaluate the project over all highlighting good points and bad points and any issues you had and how you solved them. Try to show how you think the product could be improved with a few sketches to cover those issues.

    Job done A* ;)

    Many thanks for the guide. My elder son starts GCSE product design next year and this will be absolutely invaluable. We have started thinking about a project and come up with what we think is a good one, but outside his capabilities at the moment. He's a bright lad with a keen interest in electronics (PicAxe) and mechanics and I'm sure I can bring him up to speed pretty quickly. He'll even need to use the 3D fabricator that his school is so proud of. (When I was a lad we had a choice of metalwork or woodwork ;¬) I am slightly worried that because of the training and guidance I'll be giving him that it may be seen as me spoon-feeding him (which I will take pains not to do). Hopefully his performance in lesson time and his documentation will make it clear that this is not the case, but do you have any suggestions as to how I can allay this potential suspicion?

    1 reply

    Hi, If he is into picaxe and programming why not make a small toy robot, perhaps as a kit so he has a range of materials and a package/instructions to make. i will repost in my blog my students hand book for GCSE product design and let you know the URL. Will take a day or so. Your help is essential BUT make sure it is more aligned with encouragement to understand what he is doing rather than doing it (either for him or together) If his school work to the rules he should do everything/ folder and practical in school under the supervision of his teachers. They may / should allow preparation work at home that can be brought in on a memory stick to go into the folder. Remember the forum an invaluable source of information and help on picaxe micro controllers . Get the syllabus and read it with him. The marking guide is in there turn it into heading fro the folder that way you hit everything. After that it is about how thoroughly you do it.

    Cool, I've done my GCSE I got an A. I made a cd/dvd rack, I was gunna post an instuctable but never got round to it. I think I let myself down in the exam. I'm doing As level now. Its so much harder, but what you've said is definitively true, its all about the effort you put in.

    5 replies

    Looks good , I am not surprised you got an A if your folder work was as good. Which exam board are you doing for A level and what is your project?

    Hmm I'm not sure of the exam board, possibly EdExcell. The project is 12v lighting (well its just lighting but were not allowed to play with mains) I'm making a light box. I might try an instructable because ill record how i did it anyway.

    Although many schools limit students to 12 volts for H&S reasons 6th formers in most educational areas can build mains powered units they jus need to have them safety checked before plugging in.

    There are a lot of options with 12 halogen lights and a wall plug type transformer Rapid do suitable units.

    Mood light worked well for me in my example.

    A Picaxe microprocessor can make a yellow/orange LED flicker like a candle if you play a tune and put the LED on the sound output in place of the speaker. Looks very realistic. You can buy these units in Wilco for £3.

    Ther are many options in lighting as a simple Google search of lighting images will show. Many are basic domestic but a few "designer lamps" may cost £100's

    Awesome, that Instructable about the moonlight is really cool. (The one you put in your pictures..)