Junior Cert Maths and CSPE: wordy

Events overtook the CSPE paper while maths students were subject to a fair test

Frances Fitzgerald: Sent back to her old job by the CSPE exam.

Frances Fitzgerald: Sent back to her old job by the CSPE exam.

Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 00:41

A mix of wordy and nonwordy questions were laid out for Junior Certs yesterday in the second year of a Maths Paper II exam drawn from the new Project Maths syllabus.

Paper 2 focuses on statistics, probability and geometry. “Overall this was a fair test of students’ interpretive and mathematical skills. Mostly straightforward problems, with the exception of one question involving a garden swing,” said Eamonn Toland of TheMathsTutor.ie. “The question about the garden swing was wordy, bringing in a somewhat contrived real-world scenario to test comprehension as well as geometry.”

Robert Chaney of CBS Thurles considered the higher paper a fair test that mirrored the syllabus.

“An organised and methodical student working through the questions and using formulas would have done well,” he said. “Teachers and students are generally happy with the new methodologies of Project Maths and the sort of thinking that’s required. From my perspective I think it’s a more enriching process for the students.”

The ordinary level paper started out with a challenging question that involved reasoning, according to teachers, but otherwise the paper was regarded as straightforward.

The volatility of politics hit the afternoon Civic Social and Political Education(CSPE) exam, with Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald being sent back to her old job in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Question one of the paper showed students a picture of four members of cabinet - Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore, Ruairi Quinn and Frances Fitzgerald - and asked students to match each person to their job, or their old job in Minister Fitzgerald’s case. “The person who set the exam must have had more trust in the stability of the Government than was realistic,” said the TUI’s CSPE representative Brendan Green.

The afternoon CSPE exam is a common level paper so there is no higher and ordinary level divide. Apart from the embarrassing mistake in question one, the paper was fair and topical according to Green. Given that the exam spans the range of abilities, question three in section one, which asked questions about the courts and aspects of the law was “technical and a bit difficult,” Green said.

“There were interesting topics such as cyberbullying and elections - there was an interesting question on the spoiling of votes,”said Brendan O’Regan, chair of the Association of CSPE Teachers.

Nelson Mandela and the local and European elections were some of the more predictable appearances on the paper. A question on wind farms was topical, particularly for students in rural communities, according to Green.

All teachers noted with regret that the intended downgrading of CSPE from a full subject to an optional short course in the new Junior Cycle will probably lead to the demise of the subject in the long term. Philip Irwin of the ASTI said “Given the low turnout of voters for the local and European elections, which featured prominently on the paper, citizenship education is ever more important.”