Wednesday 21 February 2018

Leaving Cert Biology: Ability to apply methodology was required

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

A LISTENER to 'Mooney Goes Wild' on RTE might have had an advantage in sitting yesterday's Leaving Cert biology higher-level paper.

Mona Murray of Dublin's Institute of Education said it could have been helpful in answering the (b) part of the question 10 on ecology, where a good general knowledge was required.

"Candidates were required to have both the knowledge and the confidence to apply that knowledge to answer this part of the question effectively," she said.

Ms Murray added: "Regurgitation of learned information would not have sufficed."

Ciara O'Shea of the ASTI and St Attracta's Community School in Tubbercurry, Co Sligo describe the same 10 (b) as "awkward, but doable".

Otherwise, section C of the paper was generally straightforward, she said.

Question 7 in section B also drew comment from teachers. It was unusual in that, instead of dealing with a prescribed experiment, candidates had to apply their knowledge on scientific methodology.

Ms O'Shea said students would not have seen that type of question before.

Ms Murray regarded it as "perhaps a little unfair" as "candidates understand that this section would examine the 22 mandatory experiments".

Otherwise, the two questions in this section were straightforward, if very broad, she said.

Ms O'Shea said question 9 in section B on the isolation of DNA from a cell was "typical" and that students would have been happy with it.

In section C, Ms Murray said the human biology question on the kidney required an in-depth knowledge of this area, while in question 14, students "really needed to think through the graph element".

She described the genetics question as fair.

Ms O'Shea thought that apart from the ecology question, section C was relatively straightforward.

Candidates got off to a "lovely" start on the paper with a section A that would have had a "calming effect", according to Ms Murray.

The teachers' overall verdict on the paper was good.

Ms O'Shea said they had "great choice, although students complained to her about the diagrams, particularly in section A.

Ms Murray said the "examiner has produced a very thoughtful paper that, while fair, contained some searching elements."

At ordinary level, Ms O'Shea said students also had "a good choice and no great problems".

Irish Independent

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