Incentivizing advanced mathematics study at upper secondary level: the case of bonus points in Ireland

Paraic Treacy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Secondary level mathematics education in Ireland has recently experienced a period of significant change with the introduction of new curricula and the addition of an incentive to study upper secondary mathematics at the most advanced level (Higher Level). This incentive, typically referred to as ‘bonus points’, appears to have aided a significant increase in the number of students studying upper secondary mathematics at Higher Level. However, thematic analysis of interviews with experienced upper secondary mathematics examiners and exploration of mathematics diagnostic test data outlined in this paper suggest that the difficulty of the Higher Level upper secondary mathematics final examination in Ireland has reduced since the introduction of the bonus points initiative. The sharp increase in students attempting this examination coupled with a policy of maintaining a consistent proportion of students achieving passing grades was identified as a key reason for this possible reduction in standards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-436
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology
Volume49
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology on 22/08/2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/0020739X.2017.1366558.

Keywords

  • Mathematics education
  • incentives
  • motivation
  • curriculum change
  • mathematics examinations

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