Monday 25 September 2017

Second economist queried Leaving Cert exam

Katherine Donnelly Education Editor

THE controversy over Leaving Certificate economics continues as a second academic reveals she raised concerns about another exam paper.

Dr Aedin Doris said she was puzzled about answers being given by first-year students who had begun her course in NUI Maynooth in 2008.

She wrote to the State Examinations Commission (SEC) saying she was unhappy with young students' understanding of a certain topic – the Law of Demand.

Dr Doris has revealed her concerns about the 2008 higher level paper just days after the Irish Independent revealed another academic had criticised the 2012 paper in the same subject. But apart from an acknowledgement, the exam chiefs have not been in touch with Dr Doris since she wrote to them almost five years ago.

The lecturer in the Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting said the same topic came up on the 2013 higher level paper and she has similar concerns, as well as additional issues with that question.

She was prompted to comment after UCD-based economist Dr Kevin Denny criticised the 2012 paper and its marking scheme.

Although the SEC has dismissed his concerns, Dr Denny has won support from economists and academics in this field.

Dr Doris posted her comments in a blog on irisheconomy.ie, where she recounts that in 2008, when she was teaching first years for the first time, there was a problem with an assignment for the students.

She said a significant minority of the class discussed in detail why the demand for the goods mentioned in the question could slope upwards, even though this was not something that she had discussed in class.

"Somewhat taken aback, I Googled one of the phrases that I'd noticed coming up in these answers, and the first link that popped up was to the Leaving Cert exam marking scheme from that year," she said.

One of the questions asked for exceptions to the Law of Demand, with four suggested reasons in the marking scheme.

DEBATABLE

She said one was "so unimportant in the real world that it surprised me they bothered teaching it", another was "debatable", while she was very unhappy with the other two.

As a result, and unhappy with the understanding of the topic that first years may have, Dr Doris, in her lectures on supply and demand, includes the SEC version and then explains why she doesn't agree.

Responding to Dr Doris's criticism in relation to the question on the Law of Demand, the SEC said that examples are given in the marking scheme – and alternative answers would be accepted on their merits.

The SEC said it was satisfied that that the first two sample points presented in the marking scheme were "wholly appropriate".

In the third one, economists were divided and said that while the fourth point gave rise to discussion among examiners, ultimately there was no issue.

Irish Independent

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