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(I) The Maltese Educational System (II) School-based Assessment in Science Examinations (III) Gender Differences in Science (IV) Student Interest in Science. Dr Martin Musumeci Dept of Mathematics, Science and Technical Education, Faculty of Education Academic Division – MATSEC Support Unit

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Dr Martin Musumeci


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    1. (I) The Maltese Educational System(II) School-based Assessment in Science Examinations(III) Gender Differences in Science(IV) Student Interest in Science Dr Martin Musumeci Dept of Mathematics, Science and Technical Education, Faculty of Education Academic Division – MATSEC Support Unit University of Malta e-mail address: martin.m.musumeci@um.edu.mt Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun, Poland – Tuesday, 8th May, 2007

    2. PART I THE MALTESE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    3. 1.1 The Maltese Educational System – An Overview Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    4. 1.2 The Maltese Educational System – The Context • In Malta, compulsory education is up to 16 years of age. • A National Minimum Curriculum: it covers the educational system up to 16 years. It is a law, passed through Parliament. • There is quite a high demand for entry into Church Schools: • Entry at Kindergarten and Primary level is through application and lots are drawn; • Some have a `Common Entrance Exam` for Secondary School = quite competitive. • Other students go to the Private Independent Schools or State Schools. • State Schools: an 11+ exam at the end of Primary school for entry into Junior Lyceums, otherwise students go to Area Secondary Schools. • State schools … reform into colleges/clusters under way. Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    5. 1.3 The Maltese Educational System – The Context • At the end of Secondary education (16+), students sit for external examinations provided by the local Examination Board (MATSEC – University of Malta) or by the UK Examination Boards. • The local Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) exams were intended to: (i) provide certification to school-leavers,and (ii) provide credentials for access to post-secondary courses. Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    6. 1.4 The Maltese Educational System – The Context • Compulsory subjects for entry to Sixth Form: SEC passes in Mathematics, English Language, Maltese and a Science subject (Physics, Chemistry or Biology). • The main Sixth Form College is part of the University of Malta – the Junior College. • Other state Sixth Form Colleges. • Private Sixth Form Colleges: very competitive, as they admit only those who get the highest grades in their SEC examinations. • Entry into University courses: the Matriculation Certificate = 2 Advanced level and 4 Intermediate level (equivalent to one third of an ´A´ level) subjects . . . At least 1 language, 1 science subject, 1 humanistic/commercial subject. One Intermediate subject is compulsory: Systems of Knowledge. • Entry to University: at least 44 points, apart from special course requirements. Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    7. PART II # THE SEC SYSTEM # SCHOOL-BASED ASSESSMENT IN THE SCIENCES Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    8. 2.1 Introduction– Questions The study attempted to investigate: • The range of marks obtained in the SBA component • The ‘real’ contribution of the SBA mark towards the final total mark • Any difference/s in marks assigned for SBA between subjects having differently detailed guidelines on assessment of coursework in the syllabus • The correlation between the marks obtained for SBA and the marks for the two written papers and the final global mark Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    9. 2.2 The Format of the SEC Exams • Two papers of two hours’ duration: Paper I and Paper II • Paper I is the core paper. • There are two versions of Paper II: (i) P IIA= more demanding questions than in P I (ii) P IIB=less demanding questions than in P I • Candidates are to indicate which version of P II they opt for when they register for the exam. Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    10. 2.3 The Grading System • Candidates sitting for P I and P IIA may beawarded grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or U (unclassified). • Candidates sitting for P I and P IIB may be awarded grades 4, 5, 6, 7 or U. • Grades 1 to 5are accepted for access to post-secondary courses leading to the Advanced Level certification and eventually University courses. • Grades 6 and 7 indicate a lower level of attainment. These grades may be presented to prospective employers. Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    11. 2.4 The Introduction of SBA • 1994 – the MATSEC Board introduced SBA at SEC level to ensure that candidates are assessed on a wider range of skills than they would be by a written examination. • This innovation : (i) induced exposure of studentsto activities includingpractical work and experiences from everyday life; (ii) enableddevelopment ofnew skills and abilitiesas problem-solving, data gathering and analysis, and application of knowledge rather than just simple recall. • The coursework component – typically spread over 3 years – can serve as an element of formative assessment in the overall assessment of students. Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    12. 2.5 Prescribed Weight for SBA in Biology, Chemistry and Physics Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    13. 2.6 Procedure for Marking SBA Coursework ofprivate candidates (not engaged in full-time education) is assessed by the MATSEC Examiners’ Panel for the subject. Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    14. 2.6 Procedure – Why Moderation? Moderation of candidates’ coursework wasintroduced to:  • optimise reliability of SBA, ensure fairness for candidates and schools; • ensure that the work being presented is of the expected level; • gather useful info for recommendations for improved practice; • maintain the quality of SBA from year to year; • maintain credibility, validity and acceptability of certification issued. • ensure comparability of the level of competence reached –students, within and between schools, who attain the same standard should obtain the same scores, i.e., they have reached the same level though they have not gone through the same experiences. Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    15. 2.6 Procedure –Moderators’ Report and Feedback to the Schools • Moderators keep a record of their work, that includes: • a checklist; • details of schools visited; • changed marks; and • any comments re workpresented, marks awarded by schools. • The Chairperson collects these records compiles a brief report, which is eventually included within the Examiners’ report for the examination session. • Feedback to schools is handled by the MATSEC Support Unit. Any comments by Chairpersons and moderators (the type and quality of workbooks/projects, the distribution of marks, the assessment procedure adopted, comparisons between schools) are forwarded to the respective Principal Subject Area Officer for further action. Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    16. 2.7 Some Important Terms • Frequency = the number of occurrences • Percentage frequency • Frequency distribution • Average (or mean) • Standard deviation • Correlation coefficient (0 = no correlation to 1 = total correlation) • Mode = the most common Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    17. 2.8.1 The Results – Frequency Distribution: Physics • Candidates sitting for P I+ P IIA= 1636 • Candidates sitting for P I+ P IIB= 2324 • Total population = 3960 Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    18. 2.8.2 The Results – The SBA Component: Physics Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    19. 2.8.3 The Results – Correlation Studies: Physics Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    20. 2.8.4 The Results – Correlation Studies: Physics Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    21. 2.8.5 The Results – Frequency: Biology and Chemistry Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    22. 2.8.6 The Results – SBA: Biology Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    23. 2.8.7 The Results – SBA: Chemistry Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    24. 2.8.8 The Results – Correlation Studies: Biology Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    25. 2.8.9 The Results – Correlation Studies: Chemistry Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    26. 2.9.1 Comparison with other subjects having more detailed guidelines for SBA Physics, Chemistry and Biology – where guidelines for SBA are not detailed at all, though the Biology syllabus includes some further information with respect to the other two – were compared with Computer Studies and Home Economics where the syllabus guidelines for SBA are much more detailed. Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    27. 2.9.2 Comparison with Computer Studies and Home Economics - Frequency Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    28. 2.9.3 Comparison with Computer Studies - SBA Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    29. 2.9.4 Comparison with Home Economics - SBA Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    30. 2.10.1 Summarising . . . . . . average SBA raw score Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    31. 2.10.2 Summarising . . . . . .Mode of SBA raw score Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    32. 2.10.3 Summarising . . . . . . percentage scoring < 10 in SBA Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    33. 2.11.1 Conclusions • The marks of the SBA component are definitely on the high side! But the inclusion of coursework/SBA ensures that given skills are taught and practical experiences are actually included in the school programme. • As the situation stands, SBA marks do not differentiate between candidates of different abilities.Selection/grading is solely on the written papers. • It is probable that marks can be assigned for effort – see the Home Economics case. • The correlation coefficients between SBA mark and marks for written papers and total mark are not high. Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    34. 2.11.2 Conclusions • Comparing the data obtained for Biology with that for Physics and Chemistry (where the syllabus just specifies the presentation of the best 15 practical reports), the percentage of students scoring less than 10/15 is slightly higher in Biology, although differences in the other data is not evident. • Thus it helps to improve the guidelines byspecifying a range of types of experiments/areas/skills to becovered (as there is in the Biology syllabus). Thisprocures improvement in quality. Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    35. 2.11.3 Conclusions • When comparing the SBA data for Computer Studies and Home Economics (which have detailed guidelines in the respective syllabi) with those for the three science subjects, the differences in average raw SBA mark and percentage of students scoring less than 10/15 are definitely evident. Thus the utility of detailed guidelines. • Suggestion:to keep the practice of includingexam questions based on practical experience – candidates will not be ableto answer correctly unless they have actually had practical experience. Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    36. PART III GENDER DIFFERENCES IN SCIENCE Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    37. 3.1 SEC Registrations • The SEC system initially supplemented and eventually replaced the GCE O-level examinations offered by UK examination boards. • In 1994: Biology = 139, Chemistry = 112, Physics = 1185, Mathematics = 1553, Computer Studies = 246. NOTE: Mathematics and Physics were requirements for sixth form entry. Mathematics is still compulsory, Physics is not an exclusive sixth form entry requirement anymore. A number of secondary schools still offer Physics as the compulsory science subject with Biology and Chemistry being option subjects. • It started in 1994. Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    38. 3.2.1 SEC Registrations 2001 - 2006 Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    39. 3.2.2 SEC Registrations 2001 - 2006 Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    40. 3.3.1 Gender Differences in Registrations(f = females, m = males) The difference in registrations (f – m) as a percentage of total registrations Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    41. 3.3.2 SEC 2006: gender differencesin registrations Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    42. 3.3.3 SEC 2006: percentage of 16-year-old candidates, by gender Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    43. 3.4.1 SEC 2006: gender differencesin performance SEC 2006: Percentage passes per grade by gender Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    44. 3.4.2 SEC Biology 2006: percentage passes per grade by gender Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    45. 3.4.3 SEC Chemistry 2006: percentage passes per grade by gender Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    46. 3.4.4 SEC Computer Studies 2006: percentage passes per grade by gender Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    47. 3.4.5 SEC Mathematics 2006: percentage passes per grade by gender Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    48. 3.4.6 SEC Physics 2006: percentage passes per grade by gender Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    49. 3.5 Concluding comments • The data reported gives rise to a number of questions: • Should weattempt to increase the number of students taking science at this level? • Can we increase student interest in science? • How can we make the science curriculum interesting and relevant to students’ lives? • We also need to ascertain that the level at SEC is adequate as a preparation for Advanced level and further studies. • Above all, we also need to ask: • Are we maintaining the interest of those students who study science up to age 16 and motivate them to specialise in science and take up a career in a scientific field? • Is the experience of science they are obtaining and the information available about careers pushing students away from these fields? • How can we increase student interest in science? Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007

    50. PART IV STUDENT INTEREST IN SCIENCE Dr M. Musumeci - Univ. of Malta ... Torun, Poland: 08-May-2007