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.
Immediately after the section on household budgeting we tackled Chapter 6 which deals with recording income and expenditure in the analysed cash book. The most relevant Learning Outcome here is 1.13: Monitor and calculate income and expenditure data, determine the financial position, recommend appropriate action and present the analysis in tabular and graphic formats.
Once again this is a topic which is very familiar to teachers of the ‘previous’ Junior Cert curriculum and I didn’t approach or teach it any differently than I had done in the past. I emphasised the difference between the PLAN of what was expected to happen (household budget) and the RECORD of what actually occurred (Analysed Cash Book).
At the outset at least this is very much a ‘teacher led’ topic as students need to be made aware of the basic rules, layout and procedures involved in recording financial information. Once they had a good grasp of these issues I spent a lot of time checking student work. At this stage the emphasis changes to a ‘learning by doing’ approach and the students had a lot of opportunities to practise their technique. As I observed student work I was focusing on their ability to correctly apply the book keeping rules as well as emphasising the need for neat and presentable work.
Inevitably the ‘balancing’ and ‘totalling’ tasks proved to be the most problematic for students. We worked through all of the questions in the Student Activity Book and I got students to complete many of them in Record Book 1. While I am aware that some other textbooks don’t seem to be promoting the use of Record Books for book keeping, when writing 'Time for Business' we have taken the view that this is a useful ability for students to acquire, especially if they are likely to keep personal financial records or go on to study accounting.
We completed this unit of learning by combining the material in chapters 5 and 6 and looked at budget comparison statements (chapter 7). The focus here was on analysing outcomes, identifying deviations from the plan and using the analysis to inform future planning.
It remains to be seen whether this is a specific requirement for the new JC specification but we felt that this approach helped students to appreciate the difference between financial planning and record keeping. Perhaps more importantly it enabled them to see planning as one step in a process (see financial control cycle diagram on p59 of TFB textbook) and understand that just making budgets is not enough. Plans need to be checked and evaluated against expectations and actual outcomes. The idea is to get students to reflect on the differences; figure out why they happened and how they can be avoided in the future. All in all this is the essence of effective financial planning, and to my mind, goes to the very heart of LO’s 1.12 and 1.13.
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