Woodwork ‘fair’ but technical graphics ‘long’

There were examinations of technical and vocational skills in both of yesterday’s set of Junior Certificate exams.

The afternoon required almost 18,000 students to follow up on practical projects completed earlier this year for material technology (wood). The higher level written woodwork exam was one of the nicest and fairest in many years, said Patrick Curley, Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) subject spokesman.

He commended the excellent graphics and emphasis on skills and techniques typically used by students in woodwork rooms and in preparing their projects. A higher-level question about the intarsia technique of making pictures from contrasting solid woods would have been very popular, he predicted, as would an ordinary level option to answer about wood-turning in the making of a tea-light holder.

Junior Cert technical graphics provided what Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland subject spokesman Seamus Cahalan thought was a very difficult exam for higher level students to complete.

Other than a question about an ellipse, Mr Cahalan said the questions in the longer section were too long and complicated. He said that even strong students would have struggled to finish the paper due to what he said were unnecessarily repetitive parts at the end of many questions.

While drawing the ellipse and the parabola in the final question were both straightforward, he said too much work was required in the remaining parts for the marks that would have been given. Mr Cahalan thought short questions in the first section worth 30% of marks were realistic and fair, but a number of obstacles on the long questions made it difficult for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

Teachers’ Union of Ireland subject spokesman Gavin Berry said the first sections of the higher and ordinary level exams were fine, examining a wide range of students’ skills.

He was much less critical than Mr Cahalan of the second section at higher level as he felt that, other than a tricky third question, it was a decent enough test.

At ordinary level, Mr Berry said, the second long question based on an art shop logo in the shape of a painter’s palette was quite technical. However, otherwise, he thought, it too was quite a good exam.

Mr Cahalan thought ordinary level students had some tough questions, saying that a number of questions featured a lot of dimensions to try and decipher or to find themselves.

A computer-aided design question was very fair, but he thought the design question was very difficult.

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