I strongly advise you to read this to get a better idea of what the examiner is looking for in your Section A responses.
Whilst Candidates were typically able to discuss research in general terms, there was a distinction between those that could focus in on the precise ways in which their work was influenced by or responded to specific media texts/products and those that dealt with research and planning in a less applied and relevant manner (to the question set). Candidates in the latter category were restricted to levels 1 or 2 for use of examples. Terminology was utilised with variable conviction also – the stronger answers used appropriate theoretical or technical language to explain how creative decisions were informed by research into real media at the micro level. Candidates are advised against the ‘scattergun’ approach – merely listing every instance of research and planning. They are also urged to be clear about the outcomes of research – reporting that they used YouTube to watch trailers, for example, is not sufficient for credit at A2. The words ‘informed by’ in the question were important. Evaluation/critical reflection is required here and the question demands explanation. Many Candidates provided description only – Centres should share the wording of the mark scheme as well as this report with Candidates ahead of the next series.
Equally, progression is an important part of this section and this was another neglected element. The higher level answers were able to synthesise all of these aspects – specific examples with emphasis on the outcome of the research in relation to creative decisions; critical reflection on the process of the research; and an awareness of progress made from AS to A2 and with reference to other media production work where relevant – the distance travelled. There was a little overlap with 1(b) due to genre conventions being a feature of research but the stronger Candidates were able to provide a broader answer here. They dealt with genre conventions along with a number of other aspects of real media texts, including narrative, media language and more technical and institutional/professional areas of media production related to several of their own productions and then go on to ‘zoom in’ on theories of genre for the next question with a more sustained discussion relating to just one production.
Finally, it is important that Candidates can be specific and informed about real media conventions but there are a range of ways of relating their own work to real media – these might be more institutional. For example the institutional information in magazine contents pages or the title sequence of a film – these are equally conventional to the more genre ingredients examples that proliferated in answers. Or they might be more technical – observing industry practice in a particular medium.
A suggested outline structure for question 1(a) June 2010 will be placed on the OCR A Level Media Blog http://getaheadocrmedia.blogspot.com/.
Stronger answers to this question were able to do three things well. Firstly, they set up the concept of genre for discussion, with reference to writing on the subject from the likes of Altman, Buckingham, Buscombe, Neale, McQuail, Stam, Boardwell, Miller, Goodwin or in some cases, with varying relevance, Propp and Todorov, Mulvey and Barthes, Strauss and Saussure. Level 4 answers generally offered references to writing about the particular genre in question as well as the more general work. Secondly, these higher-marked answers went on to apply these ideas to a range of specific elements of their own chosen production. And thirdly, the extent to which the ideas in the referenced writing fit with the product being analysed would be discussed.
Mid-range answers would more straightforwardly list generic elements of the work with less reference to theoretical material. Lower level answers would neglect theories of genre altogether and/or lack specific examples. To what extent the production in question adhered to or challenged genre conventions is, at least, required in order for Candidates to be credited for both understanding and applying the concept. An alternative approach is to deal with more institutional aspects of the workings of genre and format. Many answers dealt with narrative theory which is, of course, appropriate – as it is so closely linked to genre – providingCandidates explicitly make this connection for the examiner, so it does not have to be inferred in the marking. Clearly, to prepare for all the concepts which may arise in the exam and then to condense understanding and application into thirty minutes of writing is challenging, so Centres are strongly encouraged to devote as much time and pedagogic energy and differentiation to this part of the exam as to Section B .
A suggested outline structure for question 1(b) June 2010 will be placed on the OCR A Level Media Blog http://getaheadocrmedia.blogspot.com/.