A study conducted by the institute of education at DCU surveyed over 300 students on various aspects of how they found their Leaving Cert education equipped them to deal with university.
Almost two thirds of the 304 students who took part in the survey said that the y felt the Leaving Cert did not adequately prepare students to think independently or to be as discerning as they would hope to be in their selection of sources of information.
While certain subjects, particularly history, were found to be beneficial for fostering a critical and analytical approach to both sourcing information and for forming cogent coherent arguments, independent of rote learning - the majority found that subjects in school failed to prepare them for the kind of thinking processes that are necessitated in university.
It found that only 28% of the students surveyed felt that the Leaving Cert equipped them to be identify sources of information and only 27% said that they felt they had any skills in discerning the validity of information from different sources. Only 39% felt that the Leaving Cert taught them to think independently.
These remarkably low numbers were a major contributing factor in the high drop out rates among first year students in some university courses according to Professor Michael O'Leary, one of the researchers involved in the study.
He described how even those that do remarkably well in their Leaving Certs and achieve very high points can also struggle to adjust to the different approaches to study and education necessitated in university. Essentially the Leaving Cert rewards an entirely different form of learning and approach to information than is required in university, with a singular focus on rote learning and the memorisation of large amounts of information, skills which are far less important when a student enters third level education.
However, the study did show that one skill that proved beneficial learned by the majority of students during the Leaving Cert - cited by some 83% of those surveyed - was that they learned the value of persisting even when they were finding learning difficult, while 72% said that they felt their time-management skills were honed from their experience with the exams.
H/T: The Irish Times