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2010 HSC Notes from the Marking Centre — Studies of Religion I and II

Contents

Introduction

This document has been produced for the teachers and candidates of the Stage 6 courses in Studies of Religion I and Studies of Religion II. It contains comments on candidate responses to the 2010 Higher School Certificate examination, indicating the quality of the responses and highlighting their relative strengths and weaknesses.

This document should be read along with the relevant syllabus, the 2010 Higher School Certificate examination, the marking guidelines and other support documents which have been developed by the Board of Studies to assist in the teaching and learning of Studies of Religion I and Studies of Religion II.

General comments

In this course it is intended that the knowledge, understanding and skills developed through the study of discrete sections should accumulate to a more comprehensive understanding than may be described in each section separately. Therefore, teachers and candidates should be aware that examiners may ask questions requiring an integration of the knowledge and skills gained through the study of the course.

Candidates are reminded that a question restriction applies in Section II and III, where the same religious tradition cannot be used to answer both sections. Penalties applied to candidates that ignored the directive to choose a different religious tradition from the one chosen in Section II.

Candidates are strongly advised to refrain from preparing answers based on the ‘dot points’ or adjusting prepared answer based on the ‘dot points’ to suit the directive term in the question stem as this invariably prevents them from fully answering the question posed. Candidates must be able to demonstrate an understanding of the religious traditions studied as a living religious tradition and relate this study to the lives of the adherents of the religious tradition.

Candidates need to be aware that in Sections I and II the answer space allocated is a guide to the length of the required response. A longer response will not in itself lead to higher marks. Several candidates wrote far too much for the mark value in Section II and required additional writing booklets. Candidates are warned against doing this as writing in excess of the space allocated could reduce the time available for answering other questions. Candidates are reminded that in Section III, the expected length of response is around six pages or approximately 800 words.

Section I – Question 11 (Studies of Religion I and II)

In higher range responses, candidates provided details of some of the ways in which Aboriginal spirituality is closely linked to belonging to country. In many cases, this involved a description of various aspects of Aboriginal spirituality, making accurate use of terminology in a well-structured response. Many candidates wrote about such aspects as ceremonial life, kinship and land/people obligations. They mentioned the negative effects of dispossession and/or the achievements of the Land Rights movement, as an indication of the significance of belonging to country for Aboriginal peoples.

In mid-range responses, candidates provided one or more ways in which Aboriginal spirituality is closely linked to belonging to country. Some details were provided about aspects of Aboriginal spirituality without explicit links to the significance of belonging to country.

In lower range responses, candidates provided simple or very generalised statements about Aboriginal spirituality or belonging to country.

Question 22 (Studies of Religion II only)

General comments

In higher range responses, candidates recognised the significance of the religious dimension and accurately outlined two or three areas of significance for the individual and/or the community. They were able to support their responses with clear and specific examples from across a range of religious traditions and belief systems. Source material was accurately used in their responses.

In mid-range responses, candidates recognised at least one area of significance without the use of explicit and relevant examples. Attempts were made to link these to the significance of the religious dimension.

In lower range responses, candidates drew on one aspect of the source material such as ‘men and women’ or ‘here and now’ or ‘strenuous activity’ and presented responses on these without reference to the significance of the religious dimension.

Section II – Religious Tradition Depth Studies (Studies of Religion I and II)

Question 1: Buddhism

General comments

Many candidates wrote responses that were far too long for the number of marks allocated. This was particularly evident in part (a) of this section. Some candidates wrote ‘extended responses’ in answer to part (c). This practice is highly discouraged as the length of response does not guarantee higher marks and can reduce time available for answering other questions.

    1. Most candidates provided features of one principal ethical teaching of Buddhism in one of the areas.
    2. Most candidates provided two relevant examples of the teaching in the chosen area of ethics. Some did so by describing specific examples of ethical areas (eg euthanasia and organ donation in bioethics) while others used specific examples of teachings (eg ‘do not harm living things’, ‘do not take what is given’) and applied them to the chosen ethical area.
  1. In better responses, candidates made clear and accurate judgements about the significance of the practice in the lives of adherents. In mid-range responses, candidates attempted to make a judgement while in low range responses they tended to be descriptive.

Question 2: Christianity

    1. Candidates outlined one Christian ethical teaching in either bioethics, environmental ethics or sexual ethics, supported by appropriate teachings from Christianity gathered from sacred scripture or Christian ethical authorities.
    2. Candidates described two examples of the ethical teaching identified in part (a) (i). These descriptions included examples which were wide and varied. In the better responses, candidates chose examples which clearly linked to the ethical teaching.

      Some candidates did not link their responses to parts (a) (i) and (a) (ii) successfully.
  1. In better responses, candidates made a clear judgement of the impact of the practice on the life of the individual and the community. These candidates conveyed the judgement explicitly. In weaker responses, candidates only gave examples of ethical norms as ethical teachings. These responses showed limited judgment and were mainly descriptive.

Question 3: Hinduism

  1. Most candidates provided features of one significant practice selected from the marriage ceremony, pilgrimage or temple worship.
    1. Most candidates described the contribution to the development and expression of Hinduism of one significant person or school of thought other than the Vedas. In better responses, candidates provided accurate evidence to support their description.
    2. In better responses, candidates made a clear and accurate judgement of the impact on Hinduism of the significant person or school of thought. Mid-range responses focused on the impact on Indian society rather than on Hinduism. This was particularly so if candidates chose to use Mahatma Gandhi as the significant person.

Question 4: Islam

Candidates generally provided a substantial understanding of a religious practice within Islam. They substantiated this with sound knowledge of the beliefs of the tradition and the subsequent influence this had on the lived expression of the tradition.

    1. The majority of candidates satisfactorily outlined one significant practice chosen from Friday prayer at the mosque, funeral ceremony or Hajj. Candidates either outlined what happens during the practice (for example, stages in Hajj) or outlined the practice as a feature of Islam as a living religious tradition (for example, how Friday prayer assists Muslims to live in submission to Allah). In the weaker responses, candidates made simple statements about a practice in Islam or Islam in general.
    2. Most candidates were able to link this section of the question to part a (i). Candidates generally responded either by relating the practice directly to some of the articles of faith, or by relating the practice to the broader beliefs of Islam. In weaker responses, there were either generalised statements about Islam or descriptions of other aspects of the practice.
  1. Candidates generally made substantial attempts to illustrate how Islamic teachings in a particular ethical area influence the lives of adherents. In weaker responses, candidates made statements on the chosen ethical teaching or described cultural rather than religious beliefs. They also blurred the lines between bioethics and sexual ethics in reference to marriage.

Question 5: Judaism

General comments

  1. Most candidates provided details of one Jewish practice, including its characteristics and features. Higher range responses identified and provided detailed information about aspects of one practice. Marriage was the most common practice selected. These key features included any of the following: beliefs, rituals, symbols and/or the practice’s role within Judaism.
    1. In better responses, candidates specifically referred to the contribution of a significant person or school of thought to Judaism. The candidates responded to both the contribution and an explanation of the contribution to the religious tradition in their answers. Mid-range responses included limited detail of the chosen person or school of thought. Lower range responses were descriptions of ‘significant people’.
    2. In better responses, candidates made a clear judgement as to the impact of the chosen individual or school of thought on Judaism. The candidates made this judgement explicitly. Candidates identified, through the biographical, historical and social context of the chosen person or school of thought the key features and related them to the impact they had on Judaism. They provided evidence by using explicit and relevant examples. In the mid-range responses, candidates attempted to make an assessment of the impact of the individual or school of thought. These responses were often descriptive or repetitious of (b) (i). Lower range responses were descriptive with limited assessment.

Section III (Studies of Religion I and II)

Question 1: Buddhism

In higher range responses, candidates presented a sophisticated, critical judgement on how the statement ‘Buddhists just go simply’ illustrates the influence of Buddhism on individual adherents and the Buddhist community. These candidates supported their interpretation with detailed, relevant and accurate information using aspects of Buddhism. They integrated relevant terminology in well-structured responses. These candidates made insightful, sustained connections between the question and selected aspects of significant people and ideas and/or ethics and/or significant practices.

In mid-range responses, candidates attempted some judgement of how the statement reflects the influence of Buddhism, supporting their view with HSC course content and terminology.

In low range responses, candidates presented a general response relying on broad descriptions of features of Buddhism and frequently included some inaccuracies.

Question 2: Christianity

General comments

In higher range responses, candidates demonstrated a clear understanding of Christianity as a living religious tradition that connected directly with the life of adherents. These responses were well thought out and clearly articulated. They made clear links to the key elements of Christianity.

Reference to the quote was well integrated throughout the response. They were supported by relevant examples, made strong links back to the quote using excellent detail and explicit reference to sacred texts, beliefs and the ethical teachings of Christianity. Well-informed judgements were made about the importance of Christianity and its influence on the life of adherents.

In mid-range responses, candidates tended to focus on the particular person and idea/ethic/practice of only one variant, thereby missing out on the opportunity to demonstrate a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the whole tradition. The links to the quote were tenuous and focused on Christianity as a living tradition with no clear support from examples. There was a tendency to be descriptive and make limited judgements. There was some use of relevant terminology. Attempts were made to link the response to the quote. Some candidates referred to the quote at the beginning and end of the extended response and made little or no reference to it in the body of their response. These responses were often generalised or sweeping statements which were unsubstantiated. Reference to sacred texts, beliefs and the ethical teachings of Christianity was limited. These responses were typically descriptive, with limited judgement.

In lower range responses, candidates made general statements with limited structure. Such responses showed limited knowledge and were mainly descriptive with little or no reference to the quote. At times these responses were a generalised commentary on Christian faith, ritual, scripture and community life. Some candidates relied solely on a single Christian community and examples, not indicating any understanding of Christianity as a religious tradition with multiple variants.

Question 3: Hinduism

In higher range responses, candidates presented a sophisticated, critical judgement on how the statement reflects the distinctive Hindu answer to the enduring questions of human existence. These candidates supported their interpretation with detailed, relevant and accurate information. Higher range responses integrated relevant terminology in well-structured texts. Candidates who gained marks in the highest range made insightful and sustained comments about social duty and obligation, personal desires and the enduring questions of human existence.

In mid-range responses, candidates attempted some judgement on how the statement reflects the influence of Hinduism. Candidates attempted to link the question and selected aspects of significant people and ideas, ethics and significant practices.

In low range responses, candidates presented a general answer relying on broad descriptions of features of Hinduism and frequently included some inaccuracies.

Question 4: Islam

In higher range responses, candidates integrated their knowledge of the significant person and ideas and/or ethics and/or significant practice. There was extensive use of Quranic references to support the response. These candidates showed a thorough understanding of the enduring questions of human existence.

In mid-range responses, candidates provided detailed information about the significant person and ideas and/or ethics and/or significant practice. There were attempts made to refer back to the quote and/or the question. Some responses were a good summary of the significant person and ideas and/or ethics and/or significant practice without explicit reference to the quote or the question.

In lower range responses, candidates were often descriptive with general information about Islam. These candidates did not engage with the material studied in the HSC course to support their response. They often failed to engage with the quote of the question.

Question 5: Judaism

In higher range responses, candidates displayed a comprehensive understanding of the religious tradition and integrated their knowledge in responding to the question. These responses exhibited a comprehensive and holistic appreciation of Judaism as a multi-faceted religious tradition. They also linked reference to the quote with beliefs and the life of the adherents. Correct and accurate Jewish religious terminology was used where appropriate. These candidates supported their answers with quotes from other sacred writings of Judaism to explain how these give depth and meaning to the life of the individual and the Jewish community.

In mid-range responses, candidates were more general in nature, with limited links made between the quote and their chosen area of response. While more descriptive in nature, these responses also drew on a wide range of content to explain how Judaism gives depth and meaning to the life of the individual and the Jewish community. Some candidates attempted to link a prepared response by writing an introduction and conclusion incorporating the quote and question. The body of these responses bore little relation to the question. The use of Jewish religious terminology was limited.

Candidates with lower-range responses were general in nature with little use of Jewish religious terminology. General descriptions were used with little or no reference to Judaism as a living religious tradition or the way Judaism gives depth and meaning to the life of the individual and/or the Jewish community.

Section IV (Studies of Religion II only)

Religion and peace

In higher range responses, candidates demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the distinctive teachings of two religious traditions on inner and/or world peace. Candidates included a broad range of scriptural quotes, teachings and many provided examples of initiatives for peace. Examples of particular individuals or organisations, teachings and work for peace were often included. Responses integrated words or sentences from the source material using pertinent language and terminology communicating substantial evaluations of the teaching of the two religious traditions chosen.

Candidates in mid-range responses demonstrated sound knowledge and understanding of the distinctive teachings of two religious traditions on inner and/or world peace. Responses analysed a sound range of scripture quotes and/or teachings and/or examples of initiatives for peace. Examples of particular individuals or organisations, teachings and work for peace were often included. Responses included words or sentences from the source material using relevant language and terminology communicating some evaluation of the teachings of the two religious traditions chosen.

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