CARPE was honoured to welcome Jannette Elwood, Professor of Education at Queen’s University Belfast, to deliver our inaugural public lecture on Monday, 17th October. The event opened with an introductory address from CARPE Director, Prof. Michael O’Leary and Prometric CEO, Michael Brannick. Prof. Elwood then delivered a stimulating presentation of her findings from a series of interviews with teachers and students all across Ireland on their experiences of ‘predictability’ in the Leaving Certificate examinations. This study was part of a larger investigation conducted by Prof. Elwood and various others at the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA), funded by the State Examinations Commission.
Following Prof. Elwood’s presentation, Prof. Emer Smyth of the Economic and Social Research Institute provided an insightful response, drawing on her own findings from a longitudinal study on students’ perspectives on secondary education. Both speakers highlighted similar themes, most notably the importance of including the student voice in any discussions concerning the Leaving Cert.
An engaging debate ensued. The attendees, comprising various stakeholders in education, discussed a number of issues, such as whether a gap exists between the skills assessed at Leaving Cert. and those valued in tertiary education, the conflict that may exist for teachers between fostering a love of the subject in their students and preparing them for high-stakes assessment, the potential for modularization or reducing the breadth of subjects to be studied, the challenges faced by those tasked with designing examination questions, and the respective influences of parents and teacher educators on student and teacher behaviours surrounding assessment.
The team at CARPE wish to thank all those who attended our inaugural lecture and shared their views on this important topic. We look forward to further exploring some of the issues raised, and indeed other issues pertaining to our assessment system more generally, in a series of follow-up seminars that will take place in the coming months.