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April 16, 2021, 01:21:24 am

Author Topic: "The HSC subjects with plummeting enrolments revealed" - Sydney Morning Herald  (Read 1085 times)  Share 

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Joseph41

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https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/the-hsc-subjects-with-plummeting-enrolments-revealed-20200930-p560m1.html

An interesting article - what do you all think? Any thoughts? Surprises?

From the article:

HSC subjects with the greatest percentage decline over 10 years:
* Information Processes and Technology (56%)
* Textiles and Design (42%)
* Ancient History (40%)
* English Extension 2 (38%)
* English Extension 1 (36%)

HSC subjects with the greatest percentage growth over 10 years:
* Aboriginal Studies (106%)
* Community and Family Studies (53%)
* Earth and Environmental Science (47%)
* Construction (45%)
* Industrial Technology (44%)
« Last Edit: October 10, 2020, 12:12:42 pm by Joseph41 »

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Justin_L

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HSC subjects with the greatest percentage decline over 10 years:
I found this section fairly surprising to me for the most part, I would have imagined the English Extensions to be steady if not growing as well as Ancient considering the recent history syllabus overhaul which I think improved all the courses massively.

Not particularly surprised by the death of IPT since it's being phased out and combined with SDD anyways, and I feel textiles has always been a bit of a niche course.

HSC subjects with the greatest percentage growth over 10 years:
This section definitely surprised me though. Personally, I'm surprised subjects like Aboriginal Studies and CAFS even exist as standalone subjects and not as option topics within other courses. I feel like they sort of sit in a content niche where they don't really build critical thinking skills, aren't really useful for useful for university, or suitable for people going into the workforce? I could definitely be wrong though.

Construction surprised me though, it doesn't strike me as a course that people would do for "fun" nor a course people would do practically since they could make a lot more money by working directly in the industry. I can get why people would do courses like hospitality or retail services, which can give them a leg up in casual work later down the track but not really construction.

EES and Industrial Technology I didn't expect, but I can see reasons why people would choose those. I had imagined the subjects with the biggest growths would be the histories with the syllabus update, higher level maths, and higher level science with the massive government push towards STEM.

« Last Edit: October 05, 2020, 02:11:51 pm by Justin_L »
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I have to start off by saying this is the first SMH article I have read reporting news for Education since my HSC. I boycotted it for the last two years because of some of the appalling journalism I have come across on it (especially in the education category) but this article did pique my interest. I have lots of thoughts about it but these are my main ones.

As much as I love both of these subjects, I'm not surprised about the English Extensions declining, even though I did both and found them incredibly enjoyable (arguably more so than Advanced). I think Extension 1 and 2 are both heavily demanding and the syllabus change for Extension 1 in particular doesn't help (I don't have many things against the new module but I can see why students, and know that I probably myself as one, would). I am also in full agreement that a big reason why students don't pursue Extension 2 is because of the discrepancies in marking. I was told by many people, including my own aunty who is an English teacher, to not choose it because it was too risky to do. The stigmas surrounding the subject really would have put me off but my stubbornness and love for English overruled at the end of the day. I'm really glad I took both because they have been insanely helpful in my current degree and have shaped my ongoing engagement with literature to this day. I definitely think these statistics are reflective of a greater problem and that is how English is taught and valued in NSW which I'm always eager to engage in conversations about.

This section definitely surprised me though. Personally, I'm surprised subjects like Aboriginal Studies and CAFS even exist as standalone subjects and not as option topics within other courses. I feel like they sort of sit in a content niche where they don't really build critical thinking skills, aren't really useful for useful for university, or suitable for people going into the workforce? I could definitely be wrong though.

I have to say that I slightly disagree with some of the things raised here. After taking a unit on Aboriginal education in my first year, I would say that an increase in people taking Aboriginal Studies is extremely important. Subjects that are built on better understanding our society and the diverse cultures that interact within it develop a different set of critical thinking skills and are useful for life, not just further study or the workforce. I think it's necessary for our day and age to teach empathy especially if we are to work towards a better future as a country. Perhaps this is because it's something I feel really passionate about but I do think they exist as standalone subjects for a reason and the figures show that they are valuable. I'm more than happy though to have further discussion about this  ;D

One thing I was surprised about though was that Music 1, Music 2 and Music Extension wasn't amongst these statistics. We've explored in my university a few studies that show a decline in people choosing to study music in the HSC but after seeing these results, it seems otherwise. Thanks for sharing this, Joseph41! I'm keen to see what others think of it  :D

Angelina  ;D
« Last Edit: October 06, 2020, 03:01:32 pm by angewina_naguen »

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Not gonna lie, seeing the decline with IPT enrolments isn't that surprising to me. I had a friend who was forced to take IPT in Year 11 (due to timetabling issues) and she found the content ridiculously dry. Even taking a quick scroll through the syllabus, IPT does not look like an appealing subject to me. I think that if the government is trying to increase the number of students taking STEM classes (as we see in the ridiculous uni fee changes), then they should consider revamping majority of the IT subjects. I know that subjects like IPT and SDD are trying to facilitate the student's interest in going down the comp-sci pathway but I think it would be much more effective if they just did a whole subject focusing on programming (perhaps an intro to Python, since it's a very common language to use). I get that SDD kinda does that since the syllabus covers things like the basics of data structures but I just think it would be more practical to teach actual programming languages.

The other thing I want to point out is that I'm (pleasantly) surprised to see enrolments into Aboriginal Studies increase. Aboriginal Studies was not a subject offered in my school so I'm glad there's more people taking it. I'm just speculating, but maybe the reason why enrolments are increasing is because of how topics surrounding BIPOC rights are becoming more talked about these days? I'm not too sure, only speculating.

Either way, I'm glad niche humanities subjects are getting their spotlight. Niche humanities subjects such as Aboriginal Studies, CAFS and SAC have overlaps with uni. CAFS and SAC have very strong overlaps with first year Psychology content (e.g. Maslow's hierarchy, family structures, social psychology), and Angelina has covered how Aboriginal Studies overlaps with Aboriginal education in uni. Even if there weren't any overlaps content-wise, these subjects kinda force students to conduct primary research, which majority of the "mainstream" subjects don't focus on. Conducting primary research is very useful in uni, especially for students who have to do an undergrad thesis or plan on going into postgrad. The content itself may not be the same but the skills are. For example, I had to conduct market research for my Engineering Design & Professional Practice course this term, and the amount of leading questions in these surveys - yikes. I had to explain to my group about my choice of words and how I avoided writing leading questions, something I learnt after doing my SAC PIP. Long story short, you may find yourself using skills you learnt during the HSC in future careers ;)
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homeworkisapotato

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Quote
I definitely think these statistics are reflective of a greater problem and that is how English is taught and valued in NSW which I'm always eager to engage in conversations about.
Hi! I'm from Victoria and I found this interesting. Can you please explain more about how English in NSW is taught?
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angewina_naguen

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Hi! I'm from Victoria and I found this interesting. Can you please explain more about how English in NSW is taught?

Hey, homeworkisapotato!

Happy to explain how it all works  ;D We have four main streams of English which are English Studies (non-ATAR), English as an Additional Language, English Standard and English Advanced. All of these are two unit subjects (which are the standard number of units for a course unless the course is an extension or smaller due to having less content and requirements) and you have to take one of them. If you pursue English Advanced, you may also choose to do English Extension 1 which puts you on three units and in Year 12, you can choose to add English Extension 2 which takes you to four. I chose Extension 2 in high school so I completed three subjects for English and I'm currently tutoring English Standard so I'm familiar with how those subjects work more so than English Studies and English as an Additional Language.

What NESA's syllabus does for English Standard and Advanced is divide the content into four modules with each module having its own focus and purpose. Standard's modules are Texts and Human Experiences, Language, Identity and Culture, Close Study of Literature and Craft of Writing. Advanced's modules are Texts and Human Experiences, Textual Conversations, Critical Study of Literature and Craft of Writing. Within each module, students will study texts prescribed by NESA and use them to respond in short answers, essay writing or creative writing formats for the exams. While this gives a breadth of frameworks for exploring literature, I find that the main problem with English, which actually starts as a problem in Year 7, is this focus on developing conceptual and critical thinking at the expense, not in tandem with, more directly applicable writing skills and refining grammar, punctuation and expression  :-\ It really concerned me that when I was peer marking one of the top students in my cohort to find that they weren't writing in proper sentences (commas were being placed everywhere, full stops used when the sentence wasn't complete and a bunch of other punctuation marks like hyphens and semi-colons where they don't belong). While I believe it is important to broaden students' imaginations and deepen their understanding of human values through literature, I also think we should properly teach students how to communicate effectively using language. This is especially important given the declining rates of literacy in Australia overall (which I have an entirely separate opinion about but will save that for another occasion). I believe it is the responsibility of the English subjects which most of us do to make sure we learn how to choose our words carefully, know how to properly structure a sentence, how to write an effective email with an appropriate tone etc. as much as it is to think big and grapple with some of the greater issues in our society.

Extension 1 and 2 English are slightly different in function but still serve similar purposes. In Extension 1, you only study one module which is called Literary Homelands and instead have three prescribed texts from one of its electives (Literary Homelands, Worlds of Upheaval, Re-imagined Worlds, Literary Mindscapes or Intersecting Worlds). Extension 2 is entirely a Major Work, which is similar to portfolio subjects from my understanding in the VCE, where you choose a form you wish to write in and compose an extended creative or nonfiction response. Both Extension 1 and Extension 2 require greater levels of independence and expect that students have already developed everything they need to in Advanced but if the Advanced syllabus is flawed, that presents issues for students choosing the Extensions and then proceeding to do well in them. I'm not sure whether it's different in selective schools or private schools but my high school is considered low SES and we only get maybe one or two, if we're lucky, students who get results in the highest band in Extensions 1 and 2. It is extremely difficult to do well, especially for Extension 2 due to the unpredictability of marking with major works. My Extension 2 teacher who was a senior marker in the HSC for Extension 2 estimated that I could get anywhere between a 35/50 to a 45/50 for my poetry so I was thinking that I'd probably be lucky to get an E4. However, I ended up receiving a raw mark of 48/50 which says a lot about how the marking scheme works. It's because of the elusive standards and inconsistency in marking across the state in the schools themselves, as well as the highly demanding aspects of just Advanced alone, that students are deterred from pursuing higher levels of English.

There are many other problems and nuances that complicate this whole system but I've already made this post longer than I intended to  ::) I really enjoyed my time in all of the English subjects, despite recognising the issues that underlie them, and I think that's why I'm so compelled to continue helping out students here on the forums because I know how challenging it can be and would do anything in my power to ensure it is easier for others. I hope that gives some insight into how things are run here in NSW but you're welcome to ask for any follow up questions  :D

Angelina  ;D
« Last Edit: October 08, 2020, 11:43:05 am by angewina_naguen »

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Thank you so much for going into detail and amazing marks you've gotten! Is the reason there's a huge inconsistency in marking because there's a large breadth for exploring literature and being creative? I find that in VCE English there's not as much creativity and it's very structured, and also the whole punctuation/grammar thing is given importance. In HSC, if a student has amazing ideas in their essay but horrible grammar, are marks not deducted as creativity is prioritised over grammar/punctuation?
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https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/the-hsc-subjects-with-plummeting-enrolments-revealed-20200930-p560m1.html

An interesting article - what do you all think? Any thoughts? Surprises?

From the article:

HSC subjects with the greatest percentage decline over 10 years:
* Information Processes and Technology (56%)
* Textiles and Design (42%)
* Ancient History (40%)
* English Extension 2 (38%)
* English Extension 1 (36%)

HSC subjects with the greatest percentage growth over 10 years:
* Aboriginal Studies (106%)
* Community and Family Studies (53%)
* Earth and Environmental Science (47%)
* Construction (45%)
* Industrial Technology (44%)

Thanks for sharing this, I found it very interesting, though I am surprised about the substantial drop in Extension English courses' canditure! :D

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Thank you so much for going into detail and amazing marks you've gotten! Is the reason there's a huge inconsistency in marking because there's a large breadth for exploring literature and being creative? I find that in VCE English there's not as much creativity and it's very structured, and also the whole punctuation/grammar thing is given importance. In HSC, if a student has amazing ideas in their essay but horrible grammar, are marks not deducted as creativity is prioritised over grammar/punctuation?

Hey again!

Thanks for reading through it all  :D It's interesting to see the contrast across the states in how English is taught. HSC markers look to give marks, not deduct them so if a student has a really good example with a strong technique to analyse and evaluate, there's a mark. They wouldn't deduct marks for the student not having enough examples or whatnot.

I do think that they take into account grammar and punctuation when marking responses because the criteria require students to have "control of language" but under exam conditions (and overall if I wanted to generalise), I think they're significantly more lenient than they should be about proofreading. I've seen responses with incorrect grammar and punctuation before which still received high results because the content was conceptually sophisticated and well-expressed. It varies across schools and their standards but the problem lies more in that they simply expect students to have all of those things worked out by Year 11 and 12 when in reality, those are the years when students can best understand the rules of grammar and punctuation. I definitely think that teaching grammar and punctuation should happen throughout all grades during a student's schooling career but it should be particularly emphasised and refined in their senior years before they head into the big bad world, alongside developing their critical, emotional and social intelligence through engaging with significant texts. Perhaps it might appear as if I'm encouraging the syllabus to be "dumbed down" to the basics of English but unless those building blocks are firmly established, it is incredibly difficult for students to actually construct and create their own responses. If I could have the power to change one thing about English Standard and Advanced in NSW, this would be the first thing  :) I think that this would also provide students with more confidence and skills to pursue, as this thread has illuminated for us, the Extensions!

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homeworkisapotato

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Hey again!

Thanks for reading through it all  :D It's interesting to see the contrast across the states in how English is taught. HSC markers look to give marks, not deduct them so if a student has a really good example with a strong technique to analyse and evaluate, there's a mark. They wouldn't deduct marks for the student not having enough examples or whatnot.
Hi!! Thanks for your lengthy response again! That's so interesting, I've never heard of examiners try to add marks rather than deduct them, damn!

I definitely think that teaching grammar and punctuation should happen throughout all grades during a student's schooling career but it should be particularly emphasised and refined in their senior years before they head into the big bad world, alongside developing their critical, emotional and social intelligence through engaging with significant texts. Perhaps it might appear as if I'm encouraging the syllabus to be "dumbed down" to the basics of English but unless those building blocks are firmly established, it is incredibly difficult for students to actually construct and create their own responses.
This is absolutely true!!!

If I could have the power to change one thing about English Standard and Advanced in NSW, this would be the first thing  :) I think that this would also provide students with more confidence and skills to pursue, as this thread has illuminated for us, the Extensions!
Is there a reason you picked Extension 2 over Extension 1? Did E2 allow more freedom for creativity?
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Is there a reason you picked Extension 2 over Extension 1? Did E2 allow more freedom for creativity?

Hey!

So in order to do Extension 2, you have to do Extension 1. Advanced is a 2 unit subject and the Extensions are both 1 unit subjects (so in total, I did 4 units worth of English). I chose to do Extension 2 because I was already doing lots of creative writing outside of school for fun. I have always loved poetry, reading it, writing it, analysing it and I found that it was often the most neglected form in the classroom. English at my school spent far more time teaching essay writing and short stories which I also liked to write but I think poetry is incredibly empowering and deeply meaningful for the writer, as well as the reader. I was a really active writer on a site called Write the World (I also currently do casual work for them to this day!) and would post a poem every week. I just enjoyed writing poetry so much that I thought "why don't I take a subject where I can actually do that for a whole year and get assessed on it?" For a more practical reason, I also wanted to drop Mathematics because I wasn't finding as much success in it as I would have liked and I was beginning to realise in Year 11 that I was definitely more of a Humanities/Arts person. I decided that picking up Extension 2 would be a good way to wager with my parents for dropping Maths and to play with my strengths and interests, rather than doing something because I felt like I had to  :)

I also found the independence that Extension 2 offered really fulfilling. I had my own choice in what I wanted to write, got to read books about poetry and the art of writing that fascinated me and pursue a huge passion project that I am still proud of to this day. I definitely think it allowed for more creativity and freedom than the other English's and I think that the other subjects could learn a lot more from the skills that we cover in the subject  ;D

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homeworkisapotato

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I also found the independence that Extension 2 offered really fulfilling. I had my own choice in what I wanted to write, got to read books about poetry and the art of writing that fascinated me and pursue a huge passion project that I am still proud of to this day. I definitely think it allowed for more creativity and freedom than the other English's and I think that the other subjects could learn a lot more from the skills that we cover in the subject  ;D
Thank you so much for your detailed response! Extension 2 sounds amazing, I'm sure many English enthusiasts in Victoria are very jealous. We definitely don't get this much freedom, and for our creative writing assessment there's still a lot of restrictions which you have to follow to be 'safe' in getting a high mark which almost negates the creativity part. I wish every subject allowed room for some creativity! Thank you again  ;D
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