Irish Times: Students learn NOT to think for themselves but to pass tests

Irish Times
13.06.2009
By SEAN FLYNN, Education Editor

Academics worried by ’spoon-fed’ students

UNIVERSITY ACADEMICS are increasingly concerned about the performance of some Leaving Cert students who are “spoon-fed” in school and expect the same in college, the chief executive of the Higher Education Authority, Tom Boland said yesterday.

In a key address, he also pointed to increasing evidence that the quality and employability of Irish graduates was declining, when compared to other developed states.

Mr Boland said he was hearing “increasing unease” among academics about the dominance of rote learning in the Leaving Cert exams and the lack of independent learning. Greater coherence was required, he said, between the second- and third-level systems.

“Increasingly, I am hearing alarm at the extent to which our second-level system is producing students who learn to the test; who in ever greater numbers are not learning to think for themselves; who receive spoon-feeding

“I have a concern that, in response, too many of our academic departments at third level are responding to this learned behaviour, not by challenging it but by collaborating in it, even to the extent of worrying grade inflation. We need to seriously re-imagine key levels of our second-level system.”

He pointed to the new revamped, more practical maths course – Project Maths – as a model of what needs to be done in a much broader and deeper way.

“We must focus much more on outputs from the system, rather than inputs,” he said.

Full article

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