Simon Child

Simon Child

I am a psychologist by background, having completed a BSc in Psychology and an MA in Research Methods at the University of Durham. In 2011, I completed my PhD at the University of Manchester, where I investigated pre-school children’s symbolic development, specifically their use of gestures. After a short-term post at the University of Liverpool, I joined Cambridge Assessment in August 2012.

I currently work in the qualifications development research team with the Research Division. This team provides an evidence base to support reform of both general and vocational qualifications. In recent years, I have worked on projects investigating the transition between levels of education, the effective assessment of ‘active’ citizenship, and the topic choices students study during A Level history.

I am also interested in the psychological factors that underpin quality of marking at different stages of the assessment process (e.g. mark scheme design), assessment for learning, and how to optimise the assessment of ‘21st century skills’. Currently, I am investigating different methods of moderation and examiner training, as well as exploring the theoretical basis for classroom questioning within a constructivist framework.

Outside of work, I am a keen sportsman. I’m the current captain of the Cambridge Assessment Football team, leading them to victory in the ‘Middle Common Room Cup’ competition in 2015. I also represent the Cambridge Assessment Cricket Club as a top order batsman and wicketkeeper.

Publications

2018

2017

Utilising technology in the assessment of collaboration: A critique of PISA’s collaborative problem-solving tasks

Shaw, S. and  Child, S. (2017). Utilising technology in the assessment of collaboration: A critique of PISA’s collaborative problem-solving tasks. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 24, 17-22.

This article presents the outcomes of an exercise which we conducted to map the assessment approach of PISA 2015 to pertinent facets of the collaborative process, and recent theoretical developments related to engenderment of collaboration within assessment tasks. PISA’s assessment of collaborative problem-solving was mapped onto six facets of collaboration identified in a recent review of the literature (Child & Shaw, 2016) and five elements of task design that were identified in the previous review as contributing to the optimal engenderment of collaborative activity.

The mapping approach afforded the opportunity to investigate in detail the advantages and disadvantages of PISA’s approach to the use of technology in their assessment of collaboration. The present article’s critique of PISA could lead to future work that analyses the elements of the process of collaboration that have been targeted effectively, and areas for future improvement. This will be of interest to awarding organisations and others that are looking to develop qualifications in this important twenty-first century skill.

2016

Utilising technology in the assessment of collaboration: A critique of PISA's collaborative problem solving tasks
Child, S. and Shaw, S. (2016). Paper presented at the AEA-Europe annual conference, Limassol, Cyprus, 3-5 November 2016
Collaboration in the 21st century: Implications for assessment

Child, S. and Shaw, S. (2016). Collaboration in the 21st century: Implications for assessment. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 22, 17-22.

Collaboration has recently been identified as an important educational outcome in its own right, rather than just a means to develop or assess knowledge. When assessing collaboration, there is a need for a clear understanding of what is being tested, based on a theoretically-sound and agreed upon definition. In light of this important issue, this article first provides an overview of how collaboration is conceptualised, and how it is distinguished from other related group activities (e.g., cooperation). The article then moves on to discuss how different conceptualisations of collaboration underpin the development of appropriate methods of assessment. Specifically, we explore how the task given to students can optimise (or impinge) the opportunities for collaboration to occur amongst group members, and the issues raised in the development of large-scale assessment of this so-called 21st century skill.

Assessing the transition between school and university: Differences in assessment between A level and university in English.
Wilson, F., Child, S., and Suto, I. (2016). Assessing the transition between school and university: Differences in assessment between A level and university in English. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 41(1), 1-21.

2015

Finding the common ground: Teachers' and employers' representations of English in an assessment context
Child, S., Johnson, M., Mehta, S. and Charles, A. (2015).  English in Education, 49(2), 150-166.
An investigation of the motivations underpinning student and teacher topic choice in History qualifications
Child, S., Darlington, E. and Gill, T. (2015). Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association (BERA) conference, Belfast, 15-17 September 2015
Purpose and structure of science qualifications for 16-year olds in England: teachers’ and employers’ perspectives
Wilson, F., Child, S., Mehta, S. and Evans, S. (2015). Purpose and structure of science qualifications for 16-year olds in England: teachers’ and employers’ perspectives. School Science Review, (97)358, 99-106.
An experimental investigation of the effects of mark scheme features on marking reliability
Child, S., Munro, J. and Benton, T. (2015). Cambridge Assessment Research Report. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Assessment.

2013

A comparison of assessment at school and university: More than just increasing demands.
Wilson, F., Child, S. F. J., & Suto, I. (2013). A comparison of assessment at school and university: More than just increasing demands. Paper presented at the European Conference of Educational Research, 2013.
The first year beyond freshers week: An exploration of additional support and assessment practices at university
Child, S., Mehta, S., Wilson, F., Suto, I. and Brown, S. (2013). Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association (BERA) annual conference, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, 3-5 September 2013.
A level reform: Is the Government in tune with its stakeholders?

Suto, I., Mehta, S., Child, S., Wilson, F. and Jeffrey, E. (2013). A level reform: Is the Government in tune with its stakeholders? Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 16, 9-14.

Reformed GCE A levels are on the educational horizon for many students and their teachers. Awarding bodies are in the process of redeveloping their courses and from September 2015, the new syllabuses will be taught in sixth forms across England. In this article, we give a chronological account of the recent developments in Government policy which have fed into these plans. Alongside this account, we describe five studies that we have undertaken within our Higher Education (HE) Engagement research programme. An overarching aim of our research has been to ascertain the views and experiences of stakeholders in schools, colleges and universities on multiple aspects of A level reform.

Thrown in at the deep end? Exploring students', lecturers' and teachers' views on additional support lessons at university
Mehta, S., Child, S. F. J., Suto, I., & Brown, S. (2013) Conference proceedings. The Future of Education. 3rd Conference
Focus group findings on stakeholders' views on the new English qualification for sixteen year olds
Child, S. F. J., & Mehta, S. (2013) Cambridge Assessment Research Report. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Assessment.
Focus group findings on stakeholders' views on the new science GCSEs
Child, S. F. J., & Mehta, S. (2013) Cambridge Assessment Research Report. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Assessment.

Research Matters

Research Matters

Research Matters is our free biannual publication which allows us to share our assessment research, in a range of fields, with the wider assessment community.