Reforming the Leaving Cert

Posted in Teaching on January 21st, 2020 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – Prof Áine Hyland (Letters, January 20th) outlines the various documentation that should be provided for Leaving Certificate reform. She left out some important details: a sample of a teacher robot needed to deliver this reform …” (more)

[Joseph Mackey, Irish Times, 21 January]


Marking State examinations

Posted in Teaching on January 18th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – The recent reports concerning the methodology for grading Leaving Certificate examinations merit discussion (‘Leaving Cert marks are altered as part of “unwritten policy”, claim examiner’, News, January 17th). An inference may be drawn from these reports that it is unfair that some grades are changed to ensure consistent results …” (more)

[Letters, Irish Times, 18 January]

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Ireland’s Inaugural Teaching and Learning Research Fellowships

Posted in Teaching on January 17th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“The Teaching and Learning Research Fellowships are Ireland’s most prestigious national individual teaching and learning awards in higher education. The Fellowships will: recognise, reward and celebrate those who have demonstrated a deep commitment to the enhancement of teaching and learning; …” (more)


Are some students unfairly treated in State exams marking process?

Posted in Teaching on January 17th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“Are some students unfairly losing out on marks in the State exams? It’s a question many students and parents will be asking in light of new disclosures about how Junior and Leaving Cert exams are marked. Earlier this week, The Irish Times reported details of an internal State Examinations Commission (SEC) research paper which concluded the marking process is rushed, unfair and risks compromising the accuracy of students’ grades …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 17 January]

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Leaving Cert marks are altered as part of ‘unwritten policy’, claim examiners

Posted in Teaching on January 17th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“Examiners involved in marking Leaving Cert papers have claimed there is an unwritten policy to alter the marks of selected students’ scripts in order to ensure consistent grades each year. A number of well-placed sources say the practice involves targeting certain exam papers whose grades can be easily manipulated because they are close to ‘grade boundaries’ …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 17 January]

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State exam marking system

Posted in Teaching on January 17th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – Michael O’Leary, writing on the need to make the State exam marking system more robust, identifies an important issue (Opinion & Analysis, January 16th). Two points he makes should be contested. He states that marking schemes may be altered by reducing the number of marks awarded to difficult questions. This is counter-intuitive …” (more)

[Letters, Irish Times, 17 January]

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The Irish Times view on State exams marking: time for a fairer system

Posted in Teaching on January 17th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“Every year the State Examinations Commission (SEC) undertakes a massive logistical challenge: organising exams for more than 100,000 students, marking countless scripts and issuing about a million grades. To its credit, it manages to organise this smoothly, efficiently and, usually, without major incident …” (more)

[Irish Times, 16 January]

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State exams body defends practice of issuing ‘estimated’ grades

Posted in Teaching on January 16th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“The State Examinations Commission (SEC) has defended its practice of awarding hundreds of ‘estimated’ grades to students. Internal records show the SEC takes this approach when some or all of a student’s work in not available for marking due to ‘unique, unforeseen and exceptional’ circumstances …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 16 January]

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School principals’ group warns Leaving Cert ‘no longer fit for purpose’

Posted in Teaching on January 15th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“School principals have warned that the Leaving Certificate exam is ‘no longer fit for purpose’ in light of an unpublished report which raises concerns over the fairness of the marking process. The National Association of Principals and Deputy principals (NAPD) was responding to a report in The Irish Times which contained details of a highly critical report on the marking process produced by the State Examinations Commission …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 14 January]

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What have VLEs done to Universities?

Posted in Teaching on January 14th, 2020 by steve

“The distinction between genotype and phenotype is useful in thinking about organisational change. Given that an institution is a kind of organism, it is the distinction between those behaviours that emerge in its interactions with its environment, and the extent to which these behavioural changes become hard-wired into its nature and identity …” (more)

[Improvisation Blog, 14 January]

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Why I Won’t Let My Classes Be Recorded

Posted in Teaching on January 14th, 2020 by steve

“In early January, I received an email message from an audio-visual coordinator at the UCLA School of Law asking whether I wanted my spring-semester class to be recorded. More specifically, the message informed me that all class sessions are recorded by default unless the instructor opts out. I responded, as I have to similar messages in previous years, with a request not to record my class …” (more)

[John Villasenor, Chronicle of Higher Education, 10 January]

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Exam Time

Posted in Teaching on January 12th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“Back in Maynooth into the January examination period, I await the arrival tomorrow of the first batch of examination scripts I have to mark, I thought I’d do a quick post on the topic of examinations. First, for readers elsewhere, full-time undergraduate students at Maynooth what is called 60 ‘credits’ in a year, usually split into two semesters of thirty credits each. This is usually split into 5-credit modules with an examination in each module at the end of each semester …” (more)

[In the Dark, 12 January]

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The effects of exam scheduling on academic performance

Posted in Teaching on January 11th, 2020 by steve

International“Exam scheduling may contribute to performance gaps between subjects, between males and females, as well as between students with differing performance histories. Using lottery-generated variation in exam timing at a Greek public high school, this column identifies three distinct channels through which exam scheduling can influence test performance. The simulation experiments show that the higher the number of exams taken, the higher the potential benefit from optimising exams scheduling …” (more)

[Sofoklis Goulas and Rigissa Megalokonomou, vox, 11 January]


Tackling rudeness in higher education

Posted in Teaching on January 10th, 2020 by steve

“Rudeness, insensitive and disrespectful behaviour that defies social norms, is prevalent in most workplaces – with reports suggesting up to 98% of employees will encounter rudeness at some point in their working lives …” (more)

[Amy Irwin, Wonkhe, 10 January]

The 12 education issues set to dominate 2020

Posted in Governance and administration, Teaching on January 7th, 2020 by steve

IrelandIndustrial strife resumes. After a couple of years of industrial peace, the prospect of disruption looms. Two-tier pay rates introduced in 2011 put ‘newly qualified teachers’ on inferior rates of pay. A decade later, the issue still hasn’t been fully resolved …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 7 January]

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‘Academic Discipline Integration by Contract Cheating Services and Essay Mills’

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on January 7th, 2020 by steve

Abstract: Contract cheating services are marketing to students at discipline level, using increasingly sophisticated techniques. The discipline level reach of these services has not been widely considered in the academic integrity literature. Much of the academic understanding of contract cheating is not discipline specific, but the necessary solutions to this problem may need to vary by discipline. This paper reviews current knowledge about contract cheating services at the discipline level, including summarising four studies that rank the relative volume of contract cheating within different academic disciplines. The reviewed studies show high volumes of contract cheating transactions in the disciplines of Business and Computing. Examples of discipline level contract cheating research and service advertising are provided. The main contribution of the paper is an analysis of the discipline level reach by contract cheating services as seen through an analysis of Google search results from the United Kingdom. This analysis of 19 discipline groups uses measures of organic search engine results, paid results and competition. Three discipline groups are shown as currently being heavily exploited by essay mills; these are: (1) Architecture, Building and Planning, (2) Computer Science and (3) Law. In addition, the discipline group of Creative Arts and Design is shown to be at risk of future exploitation. The paper recommends that academics are made aware about continual change in the contract cheating industry including the involved marketing taking place at discipline level. The paper concludes with a call to action for academia to develop discipline specific solutions to contract cheating.

Lancaster, T, Academic Discipline Integration by Contract Cheating Services and Essay Mills. Journal of Academic Ethics (2020), doi:10.1007/s10805-019-09357-x. Published: 7 January 2020.

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Time for PhD supervision

Posted in Teaching on December 29th, 2019 by steve

“Some aspects of academia show great international variation. There is one on which I haven’t found any good data, and hence thought I’ll ask the crowd here so that we can gather our own data, even if it will be not very scientifically collected. The question is this: if you are a university teacher/professor and your department awards PhD-degrees, do you get any official time allocated (or time-compensation) for PhD supervision? …” (more)

[Ingrid Robeyns, Crooked Timber, 29 December]


Human Factors and Educational Technology in Institutions

Posted in Teaching on December 21st, 2019 by steve

“Educational institutions are now enormously complex technological organisations – particularly universities. They are generally so complex that few people in the university really understand how everything fits together. Computer services will have teams who understand individual systems, although it is unusual to find someone in a computer services department who understands how it all fits together technically …” (more)

[Mark Johnson, Improvisation Blog, 20 December]

Perfectionistic students get higher grades, but at what cost?

Posted in Teaching on December 21st, 2019 by steve

“Student performance matters. Students who perform well have better health, earn a larger income and contribute more to society than those who perform poorly. As a consequence, psychologists, teachers and even parents have spent a great deal of time and effort trying to understand what makes or breaks success …” (more)

[Daniel Madigan, The Conversation, 20 December]

Is doing science experiments ‘constructivist’?

Posted in Teaching on December 14th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Reading this article this morning made me more confused that ever as to what people mean when they talk about constructivism. I had more or less settled on the idea that constructivism meant viewing newly acquired knowledge as a jigsaw piece rather than a file in a filing cabinet but in the said article, constructivism is defined as an ‘educational philosophy that deems experience as the best way to acquire knowledge’. That’s not really telling me much …” (more)

[An Irish Blog about Education, 14 December]