Software analysis claims Leaving Cert questions emphasise excessive reliance on memorisation at the expense of critical thinking and creativity

patslatt

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Software analysis claims Leaving Cert questions emphasise excessive reliance on memorisation at the expense of critical thinking and creativity

See Leaving Cert by rote: Critical thinking seen as vital skill

Fortunately,except for Irish students aiming for top points courses such as medicine and law, the Irish LC isn't remotely as extreme as the exams in China where "stuffing the duck" forces serious students to spend most of their waking hours memorising texts. Many Chinese parents send their children abroad for education to avoid this system which one parent described as suitable for producing mediocre engineers.

The criticism of the DCU study about the lack of critical thinking and creativity seems valid to an extent. But can a software programme that analyses words in questions provide little more than a crude indicator of those characteristics?

Wouldn't a conventional study that looked at questions and subjectively rated them for creativity be better? It would be important to detect predictable patterns in questions over a number of years which would allow students to substitute memorised answers for creativity. In the 1990s, my nephew scored 100% in LC honours history thanks to memorisation of 50 essays in a Limerick City school that specialised ruthlessly in high exam marks.

Does the Department of Education pay lip service to creativity and critical thinking while secretly setting exams geared to memorisation in order to keep parents and government politicians happy?

The DCU study noted that English LC exams were unusual for an emphasis on creativity. Some subjects such as English, history, political theory, philosophy and artistic subjects offer more scope for critical thinking and creativity than other subjects. Languages are mostly drill. Maths subjects are mostly exercises in logic and a lot of drill is required for advanced maths. Sciences can be highly creative if students have plenty of access to labs for independent experiments, activities that should be supervised with a light touch.

A simple solution to end excessive memorisation for the LC would be to allow students to bring notebooks and computers to the exams. In office workplaces, nobody is expected to do their job relying on memory alone, so why not in exams?

Some advocates for a rounded education point to the experience of many American high schools where teachers give marks for creative projects in the subjects taught and for extracurricular activities such as participation in sports and community organisations. However, there are serious doubts about the objectivity of self marking by schools as shown by marking scandals in America where schools cheated on exams to qualify for federal government grants. In the UK, similar scandals have occured. It is also likely that some ambitious students would engage in extracurricular activities just to improve their markings, not out of genuine interest.

In Ireland, since the LC is the major influence on university entrance for the most desirable professions, awarding even a small proportion of marks in school self marking or extracurricular activities could deprive many of the most studious students of deserved university places. In America, SAT tests deal with this problem to an extent by providing objective tests for university entrance that test for high IQ and,to a lesser extent,literacy.

However, exams such as the BAC, A levels and the Leaving Cert,especially maths results,are generally a better guide to potential university success than SATS. Should Ireland adopt school self marking for the LC as the Department of Education is demanding for the Junior Cert, maybe some university departments such as law and medicine should set their own entrance exams geared to their particular subject. For instance, medical schools could test for honours maths and a science.

Alternatively,Irish universities could together set up a database to compare the exam marks of individual schools with the university performances of a school's students. If students of some schools with honest exam markings performed better than other schools with higher markings, the former would rank higher for university entrance. Such a system is in place in many American and Canadian universities.
 
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EoinMag

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See Leaving Cert by rote: Critical thinking seen as vital skill

Fortunately,except for Irish students aiming for top points courses such as medicine and law, the Irish LC isn't remotely as extreme as the exams in China where "stuffing the duck" forces serious students to spend most of their waking hours memorising texts. Many Chinese parents send their children abroad for education to avoid this system which one parent described as suitable for producing mediocre engineers.

The criticism of the DCU study about the lack of critical thinking and creativity seems valid to an extent. But can a software programme that analyses words in questions provide little more than a crude indicator of those characteristics?

Wouldn't a conventional study that looked at questions and subjectively rated them for creativity be better? It would be important to detect predictable patterns in questions over a number of years which would allow students to substitute memorised answers for creativity. In the 1990s, my nephew scored 100% in LC honours history thanks to memorisation of 50 essays in a Limerick City school that specialised ruthlessly in high exam marks.

Does the Department of Education pay lip service to creativity and critical thinking while secretly setting exams geared to memorisation in order to keep parents and government politicians happy?

The DCU study noted that English LC exams were unusual for an emphasis on creativity. Some subjects such as English, history, political theory, philosophy and artistic subjects offer more scope for critical thinking and creativity than other subjects. Languages are mostly drill. Maths subjects are mostly exercises in logic and a lot of drill is required for advanced maths. Sciences can be highly creative if students have plenty of access to labs for independent experiments, activities that should be supervised with a light touch.

A simple solution to end excessive memorisation for the LC would be to allow students to bring notebooks and computers to the exams. In office workplaces, nobody is expected to do their job relying on memory alone, so why not in exams?


Because a lot of the time you are repeating lines by rote from the book to answer a question..maths is a notable exception, but even having books with you would show you methods to copy, which would save memorising that mind numbing stuff.

I'm glad this is almost thirty years ago for me.
 

A Voice

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A simple solution to end excessive memorisation for the LC would be to allow students to bring notebooks and computers to the exams. In office workplaces, nobody is expected to do their job relying on memory alone, so why not in exams?
Supporting IT for 60,000 kids on numerous days will be a total nightmare.
Allowing them to bring their own machines will disadvantage poorer students who have none.
 

Toland

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Supporting IT for 60,000 kids on numerous days will be a total nightmare.
Allowing them to bring their own machines will disadvantage poorer students who have none.
A year's schoolbooks, which most parents still pay for, don't cost that much less than a laptop in Ireland. And I don't see how supporting the relatively simple IT needs of 60,000 would be a "total nightmare."

Designing and implementing the right system would be a challenge, but by no means impossible,
 

Nermal

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But can a software programme that analyses words in questions provide little more than a crude indicator of those characteristics?
It's extremely crude. Only 30 students interviewed also, so hardly worthy of national reporting.

Are there that many people who excel at critical thinking and creativity but have a terrible memory and so are doomed to fail in the LC?

Are there so many people like that that it's worth upending the LC to test them? Even at the expense of providing great opportunities to cheat in continuous assessment?

Don't think so.
 

silverharp

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if you ran the logic to an extreme, everyone taking an exam should be setup with a cubicle office and someone barks requests down a phone. the exams are reasonably ok except for the dumbing down issue , too many kids hit college and fall down because their maths isn't good enough or something similar.
After that personality might be an issue, I'd imagine potentially great doctors are being missed in favour of compliant drones because anyone with real flare might not be good at getting near straight A's but would fly though medical school.
 

A Voice

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A year's schoolbooks, which most parents still pay for, don't cost that much less than a laptop in Ireland. And I don't see how supporting the relatively simple IT needs of 60,000 would be a "total nightmare."

Designing and implementing the right system would be a challenge, but by no means impossible,
Providing hardware for 60,000 across the country, with log-ins. No small job.



Now put a computer on every desk.
 

gatsbygirl20

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Critical thinking and creativity are always part of good classroom interaction.

But they are not taught in isolation----just like during a driving lesson "powers of observation" and "spatial reasoning" are not taught as separate concepts, but are taught alongside the business of learning the mechanics of actually driving the car.

A learner driver must also "learn by rote" a whole bunch of stuff for the theory test--because checking Google on a motorway if you're not sure what a sign means, is frowned upon.

Lots of situations require us to "swot" and memorise material---a job interview, a speech at a wedding, a presentation to clients, etc...

Before anyone can think critically about something, they must be in possession of the facts, they must know the basics, know what they are talking about..

Junior schooling more and more wants to skip this basic first step where knowledge is embedded, and to move quickly on to the fun stuff of 7 year olds giving their opininion on historical events they know little about, and "writing" their own books before they have been taught how to write a correct sentence or spell properly.

Critical thinking develops in lock step with other vital skills. Primary and Secondary school must ensure that the basics are taught ( and that what has been taught and what has been learned are externally evaluated in a non-corruptible exam)
Third Level can focus on expanding the critical thinking phase of the student's education

This task would be infinitely easier for Third Level teachers if they did not have to first teach the literacy and basic maths that were somehow missed in the earlier years , where teaching and learning time became eroded with a lot of well-meaning but unrigorous classroom activity.
 

Prester Jim

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See Leaving Cert by rote: Critical thinking seen as vital skill

Fortunately,except for Irish students aiming for top points courses such as medicine and law, the Irish LC isn't remotely as extreme as the exams in China where "stuffing the duck" forces serious students to spend most of their waking hours memorising texts. Many Chinese parents send their children abroad for education to avoid this system which one parent described as suitable for producing mediocre engineers.

The criticism of the DCU study about the lack of critical thinking and creativity seems valid to an extent. But can a software programme that analyses words in questions provide little more than a crude indicator of those characteristics?

Wouldn't a conventional study that looked at questions and subjectively rated them for creativity be better? It would be important to detect predictable patterns in questions over a number of years which would allow students to substitute memorised answers for creativity. In the 1990s, my nephew scored 100% in LC honours history thanks to memorisation of 50 essays in a Limerick City school that specialised ruthlessly in high exam marks.

Does the Department of Education pay lip service to creativity and critical thinking while secretly setting exams geared to memorisation in order to keep parents and government politicians happy?

The DCU study noted that English LC exams were unusual for an emphasis on creativity. Some subjects such as English, history, political theory, philosophy and artistic subjects offer more scope for critical thinking and creativity than other subjects. Languages are mostly drill. Maths subjects are mostly exercises in logic and a lot of drill is required for advanced maths. Sciences can be highly creative if students have plenty of access to labs for independent experiments, activities that should be supervised with a light touch.

A simple solution to end excessive memorisation for the LC would be to allow students to bring notebooks and computers to the exams. In office workplaces, nobody is expected to do their job relying on memory alone, so why not in exams?
The dept of education does indeed pay lip service to creativity, critical thinking and actual understanding...
Talking to some teachers who marked biology exams over the summer and the standards of answer that they are told to give marks to makes me sick to the stomach, they are told to give marks to an accepted definition only, not a variant that makes just as much sense or a clear explanation that shows deep understanding of a concept.
Basically the parroting student who memorizes by rote and regurgitates perfectly gets the full 600 points and the clever insightful student who is potentially far more capable is given a much reduced mark on many questions.
Is this not exactly the reverse of what all the rhetoric from DoES would lead you to expect?
I teach to give a full understanding and hopefully a love of science and with an eye on the LC target too but is my colleague down the corridor who has a tedious classroom with no joy of learning and leaving no lasting enthusiasm for the subject going to get better results for her students?
 

GrainneDee

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The dept of education does indeed pay lip service to creativity, critical thinking and actual understanding...
Talking to some teachers who marked biology exams over the summer and the standards of answer that they are told to give marks to makes me sick to the stomach, they are told to give marks to an accepted definition only, not a variant that makes just as much sense or a clear explanation that shows deep understanding of a concept.
Basically the parroting student who memorizes by rote and regurgitates perfectly gets the full 600 points and the clever insightful student who is potentially far more capable is given a much reduced mark on many questions.
Is this not exactly the reverse of what all the rhetoric from DoES would lead you to expect?
I teach to give a full understanding and hopefully a love of science and with an eye on the LC target too but is my colleague down the corridor who has a tedious classroom with no joy of learning and leaving no lasting enthusiasm for the subject going to get better results for her students?
We need software to tell us that?
 

mr. jings

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I can see it now. An iDinny for every pupil in every school in the land.
 

GDPR

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Pádraig Mac Piarais wrote about this problem in The Murder Machine. Sadly, the Irish educational system hasn't progressed much since.
 

Expose the lot of them

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Because a lot of the time you are repeating lines by rote from the book to answer a question..maths is a notable exception, but even having books with you would show you methods to copy, which would save memorising that mind numbing stuff.

I'm glad this is almost thirty years ago for me.
Did mine in 1970, remember absolutely nothing of the questions, or the results. Evenually got around to getting my first undergradduate degree in tbe 1990s, followed by a second degree, (two seanad votes - yipee), a masters and a few post grad diplomas. Had hoped to do a phd but could not secure funding.

Greatest regret, that I did not do law 20 years earlier, but hell I survived and as I always tell LC students, do your best but don't stress too much about it, in ten years time it will be a distant memory.
 

gatsbygirl20

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Pádraig Mac Piarais wrote about this problem in The Murder Machine. Sadly, the Irish educational system hasn't progressed much since.
It has progressed enormously. Beyond all recognition.

The system I first encountered in the early Sixties bears no resemblance to the system today.
 

GrainneDee

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It has progressed enormously. Beyond all recognition.

The system I first encountered in the early Sixties bears no resemblance to the system today.
It has a long way to go, though, when people are learning off essays and regurgitating them in the Leaving. Not your students, of course. But too many
 

gleeful

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A year's schoolbooks, which most parents still pay for, don't cost that much less than a laptop in Ireland. And I don't see how supporting the relatively simple IT needs of 60,000 would be a "total nightmare."

Designing and implementing the right system would be a challenge, but by no means impossible,
Laptops cost north of 1000 euro and dont come with ebooks. Youd have to buy them on top.
 

making waves

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[video=youtube;zDZFcDGpL4U]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U[/video]
 

gatsbygirl20

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It has a long way to go, though, when people are learning off essays and regurgitating them in the Leaving. Not your students, of course. But too many
No matter what system is put in place, people will try to game it, and some may succeed.

Regurgitating essays in the Leaving Cert might work if it is done very cleverly and subtly ( indication of intelligence in itself, surely)

But part of the marking scheme instructs correctors to "penalise whole or unfocused narrative with a low Grade D or less" so that students with a wodge of pre-learned material are taking a risk--but of course some will get away with it.

Marking schemes for English for example are thick, mini-books, extremely detailed and searching, covering almost every base. Or trying to.


A niece of mine is studying Law at Third Level. Another is studying Science .On occasions they stay over in my house. I have seen them with their heads down, hands over ears, learning stuff...or "swotting" if you like.....Both are brilliant students near the top of their class at Third Level.

So learning, memorising, and "swotting" are not just Second Level phenomena. Nobody refers to Law exams or studying Science as "The Murder Machine" I notice...
 


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