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Sunday 25 February 2018

Students lose exam marks for cheating in projects

John Walshe and Katherine Donnelly

Construction studies students caught cheating in last year's Leaving Certificate were penalised by losing part of their marks.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) found that work submitted by 22 students, at both higher and ordinary level, was not all their own.

Coursework is worth up to 150 marks out of 500 in construction studies, while the practical test is worth the same and the written paper is worth up to 200 marks.

Coursework presented last year covered building construction, furniture, heritage, and new technologies such as solar and wind power, smart metering and rain harvesting.

Students can get 'legitimate advice and guidance' from parents or others. But there has to be a clear line between help and direct assistance in completing the coursework.

The teacher signs off the coursework, declaring it as the student's own work.

But the chief examiner's report on the 2009 exam says that, because coursework is done over an extended period of time, the possibility of third-party assistance, plagiarism or collusion is increased.

Investigations were carried out in a tiny minority of cases where there was evidence that the work submitted was not solely the individual work of the candidate concerned and 22 of these cases resulted in marks not being awarded for coursework.

The report recommends that students familiarise themselves with the regulations for submissions and uphold them.

The report added that "regretfully, in a small number of examination centres, coursework was presented in a disorganised and cluttered manner".

Meanwhile, a separate report found evidence of "copy and paste" from the internet in students' coursework submitted for Leaving Certificate technology -- where it carries 50pc of the marks.


Students in the subject are required to make an artefact -- a transport model at higher level and a toy at ordinary level -- and present it with an accompanying design folio covering work such as research, environmental impact, evaluation and testing.

According to the report, the use of the internet by higher-level students in researching their theme was impressive but "less successful responses tended to copy and paste whole sections of material into their report without any analysis or obvious relevance".

At ordinary level, some candidates included "superfluous material in their folios".

The report also found that 22pc of ordinary-level technology candidates did not submit a design folio, automatically losing out on 20pc of the marks.

Irish Independent

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