Following claims made by UCD based economist Dr Kevin Denny, a second University academic has taken issue with the quality of economics teaching in Irish secondary schools and in Leaving Certificate examinations. Questions have been raised by Dr Aedin Doris over the grasp first-year Irish economics students have with the subject upon entry into University.

Dr Doris, a lecturer of NUI Maynooth, tadalafil felt particularly concerned about her students’ understanding of the ‘Law of Demand.’ This particular topic, which appeared on the 2013 Leaving Certificate economics paper, has raised concern from the lecturer, who argued that the marks allotted for a question dealing with the exceptions to the Law of Demand was not allocated properly, as answers of little relevance and answers of great relevance were given equal marks, there was no weighting system. She has claimed that at least one of the accepted answers on the paper was unimportant and not one that required being taught.  Dr Doris initially raised her issues with the State Examinations Commission (SEC) in 2008, but claims she received nothing more than an acknowledgement of her writings from the organization.

The opinions of Dr Doris materialized following UCD based economist Dr Kevin Denny raising concerns about the content of the 2012 Leaving Certificate economics examination. Since reading Dr Doris’ opinions, Dr Denny has since made notes on other issues within the 2013 paper. Writing on his WordPress account on the 17th of September, Dr Denny noted that he spotted “errors in the marking scheme i.e. things that are just wrong including some fairly basic ideas like comparative advantage.” He also described many of the questions as “in my opinion, pretty daft… the answers to the questions are not going to tell you what you need to know: whether a student understands economics.”

Dr Denny also suggested that the syllabus, which dates back to 1969, was “not fit for purpose.” These issues lead Dr Denny to write to both the Education Minister Ruairí Quinn and the SEC, where he outlined his misgivings with the quality of second level economics examinations. The SEC have retorted, claiming that they felt both the “academic integrity and structure of the paper are valid,” in addition to the marking scheme being appropriate. However, both Dr Stephen Kinsella, senior economics lecturer at the University of Limerick, and economist Ronan Lyons have jumped to the defence of Dr Denny, with both questioning the effectiveness of the current Leaving Certificate economics curriculum.

Naturally, these findings have raised issue with some members of the student body here in UCD. Tim Courtney, a final year Economics student who previously studied the subject at Leaving Certificate level, told the College Tribune that he felt, in regards to the relationship between economics teaching at secondary and tertiary levels, that “while they should be broadly similar, in reality they are quite different. School economics gives an introduction to the subject and consists of limited variables, something which changes when thrown into your first lecture if your college days”.

Courtney went on to say that he found inconsistencies within the two systems, for example he found that “for the same subject we would see different graphs in both college and leaving cert economics.” Not only did this affect him from an academic standpoint, but it also knocked his feeling of certainty in the subject, “when I came to college to study it I was confident in my ability that I was ahead of my classmates. However, this was not the case and I found myself learning from the start all over again… I don’t think the leaving cert really prepares students for college economics and can often lead to a false sense of security,” he added.

Diarmuid Burke