Call for review of Leaving Cert maths bonus over third-level fears

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Teaching on August 18th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“There are concerns over the basic skills of Leaving Cert maths students who are passing the higher-level paper but struggling to cope at third level, according to a university president …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 18 August]

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Project maths: Do the reforms add up for students?

Posted in Teaching on June 13th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Five years ago, Project Maths was rolled out to secondary schools around the country. Around the same time, students were offered the incentive of 25 bonus CAO points if they sat the higher-level paper. Thousands responded to the incentive; this year, a record 36% of Leaving Cert candidates took the more challenging paper, up from 20% in 2011 …” (more)

[Peter McGuire, Irish Times, 12 June]

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Students not ready for maths at third level

Posted in Teaching on June 6th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“A review of the controversial Project Maths curriculum is to examine how it affects student performance on third-level courses with a high maths content. There is already some evidence to suggest the revised curriculum has seen students less prepared than previously for the maths elements of college studies in science and technology …” (more)

[Niall Murray, Irish Examiner, 6 June]

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More compulsory math lessons do not encourage women to pursue STEM careers

Posted in Teaching on March 28th, 2017 by steve

“The demand for employees in STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and math) is particularly high, as corporations compete to attract skilled professionals in the international market. What is known as ‘curriculum intensification’ is often used around the world to attract more university entrants – and particularly more women – to these subjects; that is to say, students have on average more mandatory math courses at a higher level …” (more)

[AlphaGalileo, 28 March]

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Bonus points lure one-third of pupils to higher maths

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Teaching on March 20th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“About one in three Leaving Cert students has applied to sit higher-level maths this year, many lured by the prospect of earning 25 CAO bonus points. Interest among sixth years in the ‘honours’ paper is similar to what it was at the same stage in 2016 and 2015, suggesting that uptake is stabilising …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 20 March]

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Project Maths: Or is it just Maths?

Posted in Teaching on March 18th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“It doesn’t take long for the new and the strange to become the norm. Once the phrase ‘Project Maths’ was so controversial it spawned many newspaper articles and media discussions, with strong views being expressed both in favour and against the new maths syllabuses and exams …” (more)

[Aidan Roantree, Irish Times, 17 March]

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Progressive teaching of maths: the cause of all our troubles?

Posted in Teaching on February 7th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Whenever I chat to colleagues from physics or maths we tend to end up sharing our experiences and frustrations about teaching quantitative subjects to college students. Everyone, in all third level institutions, is exasperated …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 7 February]


Can’t spell or do basic maths? Blame predictive text and calculators

Posted in Teaching on February 2nd, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Science is very good at spinning off new technologies that make life easier and make us more efficient. However, such technologies often have unforeseen negative consequences. Two such examples are electronic calculators and predictive text …” (more)

[William Reville, Irish Times, 2 February]


Gender gap emerges in maths and science in Irish secondary schools

Posted in Teaching on December 7th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“The gender gap is widening when it comes to science and maths in secondary schools, with boys performing significantly better than girls in the subjects …” (more)

[Joyce Fegan, Irish Examiner, 7 December]

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PISA findings a major endorsement of Irish teachers and students – TUI

Posted in Teaching on December 6th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has described the findings of the PISA 2015 study as an endorsement of the high quality work of Irish teachers and students at a time of hugely damaging cuts to education. In all three areas which were examined, the scores of Irish students were significantly above the OECD average …” (more)

[Teachers’ Union of Ireland, 6 December]

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Some quick thoughts on TIMSS

Posted in Teaching on December 1st, 2016 by steve

Ireland“TIMSS (Trends in International Maths and Science Study) doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like PISA but it is important nonetheless. The results from the 2015 tests have just been released and the Irish Report is available here. For a small country on the periphery of Europe, we are doing quite well …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 1 December]

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Performance in key subjects is not adding up

Posted in Teaching on November 29th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Science, technology, engineering and maths are critically important areas for modern society. Expertise in these so-called Stem subjects is vital to supporting future economic growth. The quality of our education in these subjects, then, needs to be of the highest quality …” (more)

[Irish Times, 29 November]

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Comments on the STEM report

Posted in Teaching on November 24th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“As far as I can make out, the STEM report arose out of a belief that: Students entering college lack basic STEM skills, especially in mathematics (True); Even college students lack ‘higher order’ skills like problem solving, analytical thinking etc. (Only partly true) …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 24 November]

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Major concerns emerge over students’ basic maths skills

Posted in Teaching on November 24th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Serious concerns over the basic skills of students in maths have emerged in a major review of so-called Stem subjects taught in Irish schools. The quality of graduates in so-called Stem subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – is considered crucial to the country’s economic future …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 24 November]

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How should we teach maths?

Posted in Teaching on November 23rd, 2016 by steve

Ireland“I’ll be upfront and say that this is how I think we should teach maths: The teacher should chart a course through the subject, explaining key and threshold concepts along the way. Students may not ‘get’ everything at the first attempt but …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 23 November]


Why remembering the rules of maths is important

Posted in Governance and administration, Teaching on October 14th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Just this morning I gave my (third year) students a set of x-y data. During the previous lecture (which was on ultrafiltration) we derived a mathematical model that predicted y=b*ln(a/x) where a and b constants …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 14 October]


Maths, memorisation and understanding

Posted in Teaching on October 9th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Much of the debate around the Leaving Certificate in Ireland centres on the issue of ‘rote learning’. Many commentators will express a desire that education should emphasise ‘understanding’, ‘critical thinking’ and ‘creativity’, the implication being that ‘skills’ like these can be developed in a way that doesn’t involve memorisation of some kind …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 8 October]

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More focus needed on maths in primary school, study finds

Posted in Teaching on September 29th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“A greater focus on maths teaching at primary school may be needed to improve children’s performance at maths, a major study has found. While there has been a significant improvement in maths performance in recent years, the ability of children to tackle problem-solving has emerged as a real concern …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 29 September]

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Time spent on maths at schools varies by more than 100 hours

Posted in Teaching on September 14th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Some second-level school children are getting more than 100 extra hours of maths tuition than others, a new study reveals. The amount of time teenage students spend in maths classes varies hugely depending on the school they attend and the class they are in …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 14 September]

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Failure rate in maths indicates distorted education policy

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on August 25th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Conflicting policies within Government are causing distortions in the higher education access process, adding complexity and even confusion to a system that should be quite straightforward …” (more)

[Dick Ahlstrom, Irish Times, 24 August]

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