Here is a copy of my 1st Year February exam. This was my first attempt at setting a 'significant' exam for this course and students had 90 minutes to complete the assessment. It was a real challenge to work out both the content and the timing and I had to reassure students that I would bear that in mind when correcting their work. The fact that it was a common level exam for a mixed ability class added to my difficulties and there is always a balance to be drawn between challenging the most able students, while also being fair those with less ability. That balance applies not only to the content, but also to the timing of the assessment. In the end I added a crossword to the exam and told students to attempt this activity only after all other questions had been completed. I took the crossword from the student activity book, but have not included it here.
At this point I can say that most students completed all questions and activities in the 90 minute timeframe. A few students did not get the crossword completed, so I did not include that when scoring the assessment. All in all, the material included here could be completed by most students in 60 minutes.
I tried to create an assessment which had a 'storyline' running through it... though on reflection, maybe this worked against students with poor literacy skills? I also attempted to assess a range of knowledge, understanding, skill and values.
As I said at the outset, this was my first attempt, I'm sure there are improvements to be made in the future, but as with everything associated with this new specification it's a work in progress. I hope by sharing it with teachers it will provide you with some food for thought.
Click here to download a copy of the test
Co-author of Time for Business Joe Stafford teaches Junior Cycle Business Studies in a mixed ability setting in a co-educational school with four 40 minute classes per week. He is currently sharing his experiences of teaching the new Junior Cycle Business Studies specification for the first time.
Business Studies Blog
Chapter 2 : Household Income
Having completed the chapter on ‘resources’ I began to teach my students about the complementary topics of household income and household expenditure. From a teacher perspective this is very familiar material, but I used the anticipation exercises to establish the level of prior knowledge amongst my students. At the outset they had a relatively limited appreciation of the sources of household income, but this is hardly surprising given their age. Inevitably most students cited examples based on their personal or household circumstances.
We discussed a range of income sources for households, including employment income, pensions and other social protection payments. The only element of controversy in our discussion was the suggestion (by some students) that social protection payments should not be a long term source of household income and reliance on this form of income should not be a lifestyle choice. I assumed this was a case of students repeating some of the things they have heard at home and I used the opportunity to focus student’s thoughts on the purpose of taxation and the role of government in income redistribution.
I only dealt with this issue at a very simple and superficial level and some students showed greater levels of engagement with the discussion than others. Nonetheless, it was interesting to hear how clearly and passionately they were able to express their views. Overall, I was happy with the debate and accepted it was really just an opportunity for sowing seeds which can hopefully be harvested in future (Strand 3) discussions. On this occasion I felt however that the blending involved in these topics was too much of a detour for my students so I returned to the core topic of household income. In hindsight perhaps it was just too much of a detour for ME personally and maybe I should have allowed the discussion to explore those other avenues. I know I was concerned about the time involved and worried that we would drift too far from the lesson objectives. After all ‘time’ is a scarce resource, and I’m not exactly sure how best to use it on this first encounter with the new specification. The whole issue of time allocation has been a concern of mine ever since I started to write the textbook, but I’ll save that issue for a separate blog piece in the very near future.
Benefit in kind income proved to be a little confusing for some students while others found the calculation of wages to be problematic. This section illustrated perfectly the challenges associated with teaching a mixed ability group and there was a huge variation in the ability of my students to deal with calculations. For this reason it may be advisable to adopt a step by step approach to these questions and have some extra material available for those students who are particularly adept at numeracy.
Students understood the difference between statutory and voluntary deductions and were able to provide relevant examples of both. The distinction between disposable and discretionary income was not so easily understood, and on reflection I feel I could have explained it more clearly first time round. When the end of chapter self-assessment highlighted this confusion, I made a point of revisiting the topic, thankfully with more success.
The family income plans (in the student activity book) were completed with little difficulty and these are important steps in the household budgeting process (see Time for Business chapter 5).
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