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A qualitative exploration of perceptions of trust in A-levels

By Lucy Billington


Although trust is central to the credibility of the examination system, little is known about how trust functions in this context. This paper reports on the findings of a qualitative exploration into perceptions of trust in A-level.

Four focus groups were conducted with examination board staff, students, admissions tutors and employees to gain an understanding of what it means to trust in A-levels. Amongst the most prominent facets of trust mentioned were; examination standards, the marking of examination papers, the specifications, whether or not A-levels are fit for purpose, mode of assessment, and the validity of A-levels in terms of testing students’ ability.

Many more facets emerged from the analysis, suggesting that trust in A-levels is an immensely complex concept. Moreover, perceptions of trust seemed to be dependent, in part, on the background and experiences of the individual making the trust judgement. These qualitative findings highlight potential difficulties in the development of a quantitative tool to measure trust in A-levels in the future.

How to cite

Billington, L. (2009). A qualitative exploration of perceptions of trust in A-levels, Manchester: AQA Centre for Education Research and Policy.


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