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Leaving Cert Found To Favour Wealthier Students, According To New Research

Leaving Cert Found To Favour Wealthier Students, According To New Research

A new five-year study highlights the significance of a student's socio-economic background in how they perform in their Leaving Cert exams.

According to The Irish Times, the research, carried out by Dr. Denise Burns from DCU'S Institute of Education, found that problem solving, critical thinking and creativity are secondary to learning and recalling information.

The survey adjudged that the Leaving Cert does not foster creativity and intellectual stimulation. It found that, given that independent critical thinking wasn't as valued in the Leaving Cert system as rote-learning, wealthier students who had access to extra-curricular grinds were thus more likely to do well in many subjects.

Exam papers were found to lack evaluation and creativity and focused on a student's ability to remember and understand information in the majority of subjects.

Dr. Burn, whose findings will be released in an essay in the Irish Educational Studies journal later this month, questions whether the current system recognises the key learning stage of 16-19-year-olds and the anxiety it causes students to learn large chunks of texts:

Some students had maybe 30 prepared essays and they had formed an essay pool and shared these between them. There’s nothing wrong with it but the problem is it’s so dominant, that they are not getting enough opportunity to develop other skills

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Subjects that were relied heavily on recalling information was biology, agricultural science, and STEM subjects. 73% of the Biology exam was based on a student's ability to regurgitate information whereas life science degrees in third-level programmes focus on an understanding and critical deployment of scientific methods.

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Garret Farrell

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