Prof Bill McComas- Fulbright Scholar

What’s Wrong with STEM Education?  Nothing or Everything?

The recent interest in promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education may be a way to advance science instruction or dramatically harm it.  It all depends on the definition of STEM and the way in which STEM education is promoted.  This talk will examine the history of STEM education, discuss models for STEM instruction while considering the evidence related to STEM. 

Dr Gerry Hyde - SEC

What makes a good exam question?

I will outline the assessment principles underpinning the work of the SEC in producing examination instruments and examine an integrated approach to writing examination questions and marking schemes. I will briefly discuss a number of factors relevant to question writing, including readability, command words, writing selected/constructed response questions, examination rubrics and selection of stimulus material. I will analyse questions using a wide variety of exemplar materials. I will also examine aspects of the new Junior Cycle Science examination and look at some features of the recent SEC sample paper.

Dr Declan Kennedy - UCC

Do we need to mind the gap?

One commonly hears claims of the "dumbing down" of standards at Junior Cycle level? Do we have evidence to support this point of view? Is there a widening gap between Junior Cycle science and Leaving Certificate biology, chemistry and physics? In this talk Declan will examine the evidence to see if claims about the lowering of standards are substantiated. As part of his discussion, he will compare the content and assessment of the present Junior Cycle science curriculum with the content and assessment of similar curricula at international level. In addition, he will discuss some of the challenges facing science teachers in teaching the Junior Cycle science curriculum whilst at the same time giving students a foundation for further studies of science subjects at Leaving Certificate. Finally, he will draw some conclusions and make some recommendations to help us monitor standards of Junior Cycle science

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