A Level English Teacher, ‘Try Me’ No.2: Introducing research skills for AQA Lit NEA

As a centre, we try really hard to get students used to being able to research effectively and to be discerning when looking at critical views.

For our AQA A Level English Literature Non Exam Assessment, we teach all critical viewpoints in the critical anthology (Marxism, Feminism, Post Colonialism etc) and let them loose in the library to apply the critical lenses to a text of their choice. In recent years, whilst this (for us) presents exciting opportunities to delve into a literary period of our choosing, we’ve noticed how overwhelming that can be when you’re 16 years old and as a result, students haven’t really been getting the best out of the experience.

This year, in an attempt to combat that, I’ve devised a sort of ‘reading week/ introduction to NEA’ that guides students advice and support on how to research effectively and gives them a much wider understanding of literary periods over time. When students present their research to the rest of the class and publish their portfolios, other students will have a much stronger grasp of literature over time and will be able to select texts for the NEA with a stronger base knowledge.

This has opened some very interesting discussions with Year 12 about how literary periods are defined, why there is cross-over and why texts can’t just be labelled as being ‘typically’ Victorian/ Georgian/ Modernist.

I’ve attached a copy of the guidance booklet that students have been given and the accompanying powerpoint for any colleagues who wish to use it. It’ll feature on #LitDrive, too.

If you use it/ do something similar- I’d love to hear from you.

Enjoy the challenge!

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