Monthly Archives: July 2012

Mitchell O’Connor raises serious concerns about effectiveness of Project Maths

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Wednesday) raised serious concerns with the Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn, about the effectiveness of Project Maths. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor was speaking this afternoon during Topical Issues in the Dáil.

“I have serious concerns about the effectiveness of the Project Maths programme, which has been hailed as the answer to the below average performance of our teenagers in a subject that is so important for a wide range of careers in the IT, engineering and high tech sectors.

“Mathematicians have expressed grave misgivings about the radical changes which have been made to the Leaving Certificate maths paper. Most of the subject’s core elements – including calculus, vectors, matrices, sequences and series and difference equations – have been significantly reduced on the new paper. It’s also the first time pupils have to answer all questions on both papers, with no options.

“Third level institutions are acutely aware of these issues. The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies placed a recent advert in the Irish Times outlining that it is holding a calculus prep course for prospective students of maths, science, engineering and economics, due to the reduced amount of calculus being taught on the new curriculum.

“Experts from a number of colleges have expressed the view that Project Maths will have a negative impact on maths education. Their criticisms range from the subject matter of the course, to inadequately trained teachers and the fact that the project was introduced with undue haste. These arguments are difficult to dispute. There are also complaints that there was inadequate consultation before Project Maths was introduced, with claims that the Irish Maths Teachers Association was under represented.

“From my own observation of the paper, I would also like to highlight the fact that it poses particular difficulties for dyslexic students; a view expressed by other academics. I accept Minister Quinn’s comments that the introduction of Project Maths was intended to improve our students’ performance in the subject, but I fear it could be having the opposite effect. I also have concerns about the bonus points being awarded to those sitting the Higher Level Paper; achieving a D grade in Higher Level Maths, with the subsequent bonus points awarded, does not necessarily mean a student will be capable of studying engineering.

“The Minister has acknowledged that we have not found the solution to the maths issue, and that we need to continue to improve the way we tackle the problem. I would urge the Minister to take a fresh look at the Project Maths syllabus and seriously consider whether it is best serving our students, and our future graduates.”

DIAS to Offer Calculus course to make up for Project maths shortcomings

Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies


Due to the recent changes in the Leaving Certificate mathematics curriculum, the amount of calculus taught has been severely reduced. As this subject is essential for preparation to third level courses in Mathematics, Science and Engineering (as well as Economics) and in order to give students with an aptitude for mathematics the opportunity to prepare themselves better for further study, a 10-week course on Mathematical Calculus will be given by Prof. T. C. Dorlas at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies on Saturdays before Christmas, beginning on 6 October. The course is open to all Higher-Level Leaving Certificate students from both the 2012 and 2013 cohort.

As numbers are limited, those interested in attending are requested to register their interest before 10 August by email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by post to the following address: Registrar’s Office, DIAS, School of Theoretical Physics, 10 Burlington Road, Dublin 4.

A letter of recommendation from their mathematics teacher will be required before 14 September. Regular attendance will be compulsory as well as completion of the exercises. A certificate of attendance will be provided at the end of the course. A nominal fee (of 40 euro) will apply. For further information, please contact the Registrar’s Office This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), or see below for the list of subjects covered.


  1. Limits and sequences.
  2. Functions and continuity.
  3. Derivatives and differentiable functions.
  4. Methods of differentiation: sum rule, product rule, quotient rule.
  5. Graph sketching and asymptotes.
  6. Series and Taylor expansion.
  7. The exponential and logarithmic functions.
  8. Definite integrals and area under a graph.
  9. Primitive functions and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.
  10. Rules of integration: substitution, integration by parts.

The National competitivness councils report on the uptake of honours maths falls at the first hurdle !

The National competitivness councils report on the uptake of honours maths falls at the first hurdle !

This report  falls at the first hurdle because it had an agenda to say something negative about maths education in Ireland

It’s Introduction on page 5 it tries to lay out it’s stall.

In point 1.3 it states that 12.8% of H maths students achieved an honour grade ignoring the fact that the figure is 78%.

The report also claims that 1612 students failed H maths in 2011 the figure from the SEC is 247

The errors continue the report claims 2704 (5.2%) failed foundation level this means that 52,000 took foundation level the facts are about 5,200 took foundation level and 324 failed .Similarly the report claims 5147 failed ord level the actual figure is 3675 .

But the greatest error of all is the claim that 14.8% was the overal failure rate in maths in 2011 when the actual figure is 8.1%

In the report it also refers to Hong Kong and Shanghai as countries !

The comparisons between Scotland ,England and Ireland   numbers  to rank subjects rather than % is totally flawed .

They also use a comparison between uptake of H maths at JC and LC and show only 33% continue .

But in England only 10% of GCSE students progress to A level H maths !

The report is so full of errors it must be ignored!

Note all our figures are from SEC website

Question 7 Project maths H “Direction of Causality “

Explain what is meant by “direction of Causality”

Explanation 1:

Are the banks setting higher (or lower) standard variable rates because they have higher (or lower) arrears rates, or are the arrears rates higher (or lower) because the bank has a higher (or lower) standard variable rate. Or is it some combination of both. 

Explanation 2:

I presume ‘direction of causality’ in this instance means which one (interest rate; arrears rate) can be considered the ‘cause’ and which one the ‘effect’.

Assessment How times have changed Candidates are no longer students but learners !

Candidates are no longer students but now are learners.

The changes in the project maths exams are only to be expected they are contained on page 22 of the Junior cert syllabus.

It is interesting to compare  the pre  Project  maths assessment and that of Project maths .

In formulating questions

Pre project :( i)The language used should be simple and direct .

Project :D ifferentiation at the point of assessment is achieved through the language level in the exam question,

As has been said on numerous occasions its an English exam not a maths exam ! ASTI TUI take note.

Continuous assessment by your teacher is on the way if the NCCA has its way!

The following is a quotation from the Junior cert Project maths syllabus

“Assessment should be used as a continuous part of the

teaching-learning process and involve learners, wherever

possible, as well as teachers in identifying next steps. In

this context, the most valuable assessment takes place at

the site of learning. Assessment also provides an effective

basis for communication with parents in a way that helps

them to support their children’s learning”