Tue | Oct 17, 2017

CSEC results show true picture of science education - UWI lecturer

Published:Monday | August 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Dr Marvadeen Singh-Wilmot

A scientist at the University of the West Indies (UWI) is arguing that the decline in performance in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) science subjects was not unexpected given the poor state of science and science education in the country.

Dr Marvadeen Singh-Wilmot, a research scientist and lecturer in inorganic chemistry at the UWI, told The Gleaner that the shift in CSEC questions which focus on application of knowledge rather than recall provides a clearer picture of the weaknesses that students have in the area of science.

"The recent CSEC results in science show the true picture of student performance because there are a number of students who come in at the university level with ones and twos in CAPE and very good passes in CSEC who are unable to manage the Level One chemistry that we offer, and this is in a situation where the courses have been made more friendly over the years," she said.

The recently released CSEC results indicate that grades for additional mathematics and integrated science declined by 7.7 percentage points, biology declined by nine percentage points, chemistry by 13.5, physics by 15.5, and human and social biology by 17.5 percentage points.

 

SYLLABUS CHANGES

 

The decline in science-related subjects has been attributed to changes in the syllabus and the types of questions and knowledge tested on the exams.

According to Singh-Wilmot, the change in the CSEC exams away from recall questions is a positive sign, as it will show more accurately the areas of weakness in terms of critical thinking and application of knowledge.

"Now that CSEC and, hopefully, CAPE are changing their approach, and no longer can students do very well in these exams if they have only been taught to answer questions which involve lower-order mental processes, then maybe that is a good thing, because that shows us the true picture and, then now, they will be more prepared from this level to manage university," she argued.