Sunday 20 August 2017

Leaving Cert Physics: Real-life situation questions divide teachers' opinions

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

TEACHERS are split about whether it was fair that the higher level paper put such a focus on testing students' application of their knowledge to real-life situations.

Pat Doyle, of Dublin's Institute of Education, complained that it was "a radical departure in style from previous papers".

"One would expect that the candidates should have received some indication of the change of approach the examiner has taken," he said.

"The reaction from students here was that it was a very difficult paper."

Mr Doyle said there was an over-emphasis on physics as it applies to everyday situations, which in theory was to be applauded, but the change in emphasis was not what candidates were expecting.

He said: "Hard working students were disappointed".

Mr Doyle said question six had typically been a traditional mechanics-based question.

But this year candidates had to apply their knowledge to situations involving a toy that returned to an upright position after being knocked over, and a merry-go-round.

"Candidates needed the ability to think outside their usual frame of reference and many candidates struggled with this additional and somewhat unreasonable burden," he said.

However, Edel McInerney, of the ASTI and Castletroy College, Limerick, described it as a "very good and fair paper".

She welcomed how questions were adapted to real life and thought one in particular, about the effect on a metal teaspoon in a hot drink, was "brilliant".

Michael Gillespie of the TUI and St Brendan's Community School, Birr, Co Offaly, said there was nothing on which he could fault the higher level paper.

He said questions with real-life application were the only way to go because students had to be tested on their knowledge.

Mr Gillespie welcomed the way questions were "well broken up into doable-size bits".

Ms McInerney said ordinary level candidates were "very happy" with a well-pitched paper, although they needed a good level of knowledge.

Mr Gillespie described the ordinary level paper as "very straightforward with a good spread of questions".

Irish Independent

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