Preliminary mini investigation

What are my objectives while studying this topic?


This unit is externally assessed by WJEC so your work must be carried out under controlled conditions. Take a look at the following document to get a good understand of what this means.



This unit is split into five main parts. What are the main objectives for each of these parts?


Planning an investigation


  • Identify a suitable vocational context and organisation for your investigation

  • Develop a suitable investigation and decide its aims, scope, purpose and applicability to the chosen vocational context

  • Create suitable (SMART) objectives for the investigation – (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time limited)


In your investigation you should research and identify:


  • Suitable practical techniques for obtaining primary data either by existing standard procedures, or by modifying standard procedures, where relevant

  • Appropriate apparatus, equipment and facilities that will enable you to obtain accurate, repeatable and precise primary data

  • The appropriate scientific knowledge, theories, concepts or ideas behind your investigation

  • Any suitable sources of secondary information, relevant to your investigation. You should then select, validate (by cross-referencing) and fully cite (using e.g. the Harvard system), any secondary information used in your report

  • Suitable health and safety regulations, (including CLEAPSS information), and use these regulations to produce suitable risk assessments for any practical procedures undertaken

  • Any environmental or ethical issues associated with your investigation and develop suitable protocols to deal with these issues

  • Any constraints on your investigation, and adapt your standard procedures to deal with them


Carrying out the investigation


  • Review and modify experimental planning; implementing suitable changes during experimental procedures

  • Comply with suitable health and safety regulations, as identified in your risk assessment

  • Carry out preliminary experiments or trials to assess the suitability of planned standard procedures and techniques

  • Carry out suitable practical techniques for obtaining primary data using the identified standard procedure(s) in your plan, or by modified standard procedures, where relevant

  • Collect accurate, reliable and precise quantitative and/or qualitative data; checking and making changes or repeating procedures as required

  • Record primary and secondary data and information in suitable standard formats, and, if numerical, to an appropriate degree of precision

  • Complete the investigation in a suitable time frame, and submit the report to deadline

  • Identify and perform experiments to collect additional or extended data where necessary, and record the data in suitable standard formats

  • Use suitable standard sampling techniques to collect a representative sample where appropriate


Processing and presenting data in the investigation


  • Record primary and secondary data and information in suitable standard formats, and, if numerical, to an appropriate degree of precision, using the correct units

  • Arrange and group data and information by type, as appropriate to the data

  • Use standard calculations and/or graphical methods, as appropriate, to process any data collected

  • Use standard methods to identify and treat any anomalous data collected; and suggest reasons for the anomalies

  • Present data and/or results in suitable, meaningful and effective graphical formats


Evaluation of the investigation


  • Interpret your results and draw valid conclusions based on the data and information collected, and with reference to the stated aims, purpose and context of your investigation

  • Evaluate your results, identifying and quantifying any sources of error, and stating the steps that you took to minimise them, or would take if repeating the investigation.

  • Evaluate the methods or techniques used in the investigation, and, if appropriate, give suggestions for improvement;

  • Discuss the significance of any conclusions in terms of the context and the identified organisation


Presenting the outcomes of your investigation


  • State the vocational context and identified organisation for your investigation

  • State the aims, scope and purpose of your investigation

  • Produce a clear, logical, well structured and concise report of your investigation

  • Use the correct scientific terminology, spelling, punctuation and grammar, formats and conventions correctly to produce your written report


What are the key words to learn and use?


  • Standard procedure

  • Risk assessment

  • Primary data

  • Secondary data

  • Quantitative data

  • Qualitative data

  • Accuracy

  • Reliability

  • Precision

  • Sampling

  • Anomalous data


How long will this topic take to study?


On average you’ll be looking at about 50 hours of study time.


What are the main activities on this topic?


Students need to be given a copy of the WJEC GCE Applied Science: Unit 4 Applied scientific investigation:



Issue students with the definition of controlled conditions



Issue students with a suitable laboratory diary


Issue students with a copy of the Unit 4 Applied scientific investigation writing checklist.



Students may discuss with their teacher the selection of a suitable investigation. Teachers may suggest local investigations that satisfy the Approved list criteria.


Once the Investigations have started it is expected that suitable competent staff (teachers/technicians) will invigilate. Candidates may ask for help, but where this is given, it must be recorded and acknowledged in the written report. It is suggested that the teacher/technician keeps a diary to record this help.


Make sure that students are COMPLETELY aware of the deadlines. It is suggested that students will need approximately 4 or 5 hours of controlled time to write up their report.


What will I be expected to do on my own time as homework?


Students are required to do this investigation and write it up under controlled conditions. Independent learning time can be used for research purposes, but researched materials must be printed off and brought to lessons and kept under controlled conditions.



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