Business Studies for AS level
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A LEVEL BUSINESS STUDIES
Business Studies for AS level, David Browne, Mick Baross, Wendy Davies, Rob Dransfield and Dave Needham, Heinemann, 2001, paperback, 347 pages, L12.99, ISBN: 0-435-45325-4, Tel. 01865 888080.
Written to cover the Edexcel Business Studies AS specification (8076), this text clearly replicates the language of that specification in its section and chapter titles, enabling teachers and students to cross-reference between the two with ease. For those familiar with the Edexcel AS specification, this means that each Unit and Section of Units 1 to 3 is dealt with specifically. The coverage, on the whole, is good, but does miss occasional areas of specified content e.g. under the heading of ‘Introduction to styles of leadership’, the autocratic and democratic styles are explained but not the paternalistic or laissez-faire.
As you would expect, the publicity advises that those teaching and studying other examinations at AS level will also find this ‘the ideal text.’ As we all know, a text written for a specification other than our own will, in terms of content, be a good match in parts, and will include areas we need not cover and exclude other areas. For example, my chosen specification does not require students to be able to calculate depreciation using specified methods (which is covered), but they do need to be able to use the Payback and Average Rate of Return methods of investment appraisal (which are not covered). This should not be too much of a concern for teachers who are able to be selective but needs to be taken into consideration if the text is recommended to students studying other specifications. It may be better used as a backup text for staff and the more conscientious and able student rather than the set text for cients not stag Edexcel. TUMS
As has become standard practice, this text includes advice on what the examiner is looking for in terms of the Levels of Response marking method. In my experience, even with clear advice, many students find this difficult to grasp, and though the explanation in this text is clear and informative, it will be of more use to teachers in their explanations to students than it is to students directly. The advice also includes ten things for candidates to avoid (e.g. confusing cash with profit). For the experienced teacher these are well known, but for those new to this type of course and for students they are well worth noting.
The text is up-to-date and includes lots of recent and interesting business examples and on-going issues from real businesses. There are novel if rather misnamed ‘The truth is stranger than fiction’ snippets, which follow each Chapter and light-heartedly apply an aspect of the theory to ‘the real world’. (e.g. for teaching depreciation it gives a website that will automatically work out how much a particular vehicle will depreciate each year.) These will help to add realism and interest for students as additional examples to give in class sessions.
There are case studies and questions, which encourage students to think rather than regurgitate, and these will provide the necessary exam practice. Each unit is followed by end-of-unit questions for students to try which are followed by ‘hints for answering’. These provide excellent guidance for students and valuable class activities or homework.
The diagrams and photographs accompanying the text are all in shades of black and white with the overall presentation having less visual impact than some of its rival texts. Key words are emboldened and diagrams are frequently incorporated but students place a high emphasis on the ‘look’ of the pages and I cannot see their being impressed with this aspect of the book.
Occasionally, the language used loses sight of the level of comprehension of the typical AS student. Take this from Unit 1, Chapter 13, ‘Stakeholders’: ‘Organisational theory today recognises the importance of taking a pluralistic rather than a unitary approach. With a unitary frame of reference an organisation has a single values system, and seeks to create the mechanism that best meets the needs of this system.’ I don’t know about yours, but if most of my students were faced with having to unravel this they’d either ignore it or drop Business Studies and switch to Geography or Sociology or anything!
Should you buy this book?
* You teach the Edexcel AS specification;
* You are in need of additional and current examples to enliven your business classes;
* You want some extra material for AS exam practice (with hints!).
* You don’t teach the Edexcel specification and are an experienced teacher with a plentiful supply of entertaining business stories and AS practice material!
Indira Krishnamma, City of Bath College.
Copyright Economics and Business Education Association Autumn 2001
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