Irish News

Saturday 2 August 2014

Leaving Cert: Recipe for confusion for Home Economics students

Katherine Donnelly

Published 04/06/2014|20:20

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Topical, relevant and interesting exam

Some of the language in the Leaving Certificate Home Economics Higher Level paper may have confused students and made straightforward topics appear more difficult than they actually were, said one teacher.

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“Students who remained calm and broke down the questions would have realised it was a very manageable paper” said Sandra Cleary of the Institute of Education, Dublin.

In the compulsory section, Ms Cleary said the emphasis was more on consumer studies rather than on the traditional nutrition emphasis and change in the format of Question 1a, Section B might have challenged some students, but it was still manageable.

She found the Section A Short Questions “very fair with a good mix of topics covered”.

In Section B, Compulsory Question 1 , Ms Cleary said normally students have to analyse the table from a nutritional point of view, but this year were asked to focus on shopping budgets with some emphasis on nutrition

“This was a break from the norm and may have thrown some students”, said Ms Cleary, adding that way the marks are awarded also changed - the analysis of the table was split in to two parts.

“The classification of protein question in section D was very specific. This question carried 6pc of the overall grade of the paper and students would have had to know their protein inside out to get top marks here”. 

In the Optional Questions, she said  there was no surprise about meat featuring because it hadn’t  been asked since 2006. But that the part (c ) on processing could have been confusing, although anyone who interpreted it correctly would have found no difficultly.

Nor was Ms Cleary surprised about a question on the HACCP hazard analysis system, after a six year absence. While part (b) ,which asked students to assess grilling and barbequing as methods of cooking, looked complicated, but was in fact a very straight forward. 

The household technology question was “manageable” and part (c) was “particularly relevant to modern living”, with students asked to explain how the consumer can protect the environment.

A question on the family in Ireland was “ lovely”, with no tricks or catches and the language used straight forward. It covered topics that haven’t appeared for a while.

In Section C, Elective 1 about with insulation/ renewable energy / BER system in housing all coming up was “nice relevant and topical” while students also had the option of looking at the property market and discuss the renting V’s buying.

For ordinary level candidates, Ms Cleary said familiarity with past papers would have helped.

Overall, the paper was  “fair and accessible”  but she thought it unusual to have Question 3 devoted to  a whole question on soup. 

However, “if students didn’t want to answer this question, they had other good options".

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