Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Burns, D., Devitt, A., McNamara, G., O’Hara, J. and Brown, M. (2018)
Irish Educational Studies
Is it all memory recall? An empirical investigation of intellectual skill requirements in Leaving Certificate examination papers in Ireland
Optional Fields
Assessment, Intellectual Skill, Upper Secondary
The terminal examination of post-primary education in Ireland, the Leaving Certificate, is often criticised for the reliance on memory recall over higher order thinking skills in the assessment process. In order to examine the evidence base for these critiques, this article presents an empirical investigation of the intellectual skills and knowledge domains implicit in the tasks in the written examination papers of 23 subjects in the Leaving Certificate in Ireland from 2005 to 2010. Data were collected from two sources: examination papers and student interviews. In an in-depth document analysis of the examination papers, 14,910 occurrences of command verbs were coded for the intellectual skill and knowledge domains required by the assessment task. As the same verb can require different intellectual skills in different subjects and in different tasks, each occurrence of every verb was assigned a specific value depending on its context. The article presents the frequencies and distributions of intellectual skills and knowledge domains within and across subjects. In light of key points in the literature search, the findings indicate concern regarding the level of challenge and stimulation for the development of students of the Leaving Certificate.
Grant Details