Reflection on Poor Sub ICT results in UNEB 2019: What was the actual cause?

When the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) on Thursday, February 27, 2020 released the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) 2019 results, a somber mood engulfed several members of ITAU ICT Teachers Whatsapp groups. Something was not right – the celebrations among teachers which usually accompany results were not noticed this time round!

Some of the reactions from ICT teachers after results were released.

Whereas The New Vision reported a general improvement in performance as compared to the previous year, the opposite was true for the Subject of Subsidiary ICT in particular.

Statistics by schoolsuganda.com showed that Subsidiary ICT as a subject was too poorly done as compared to the year 2018. More schools had almost half their candidates failing to score a point, causing many questions to what happened to the great performance of 2018. The pass rate of Distinction one (D1) was too low (0.13 per cent) yet the failure rate (F9) was too high (37.14 per cent).

Only 77 D1s in the subject were registered countrywide (This number excludes results not yet released by press time) as compared to more than 22000 failures (those without a point), and a total of 81 schools had all their candidates failing to get a point.

Download detailed ranking of schools based on 2019 UACE and UCE examination results below.

Download “UACE 2019 SUBSIDIARY ICT RANKING OF SCHOOL NATIONWIDE” ICT-2019.pdf – Downloaded 180 times – 17 MB

Download “UCE 2019 COMPUTER STUDIES NATIONWIDE RANKING OF SCHOOLS” BETTER-RANKING-COMPUTER-STUDIES-UCE-GENERAL-2019.pdf – Downloaded 101 times – 3 MB

The ‘Change in Paper Weighting’ Rumour

When teachers were still in awe, a message started circulating on various groups, indicating that the cause of the poor performance was due to a change in the way the final mark was computed from the theory and practical papers.

Unconfirmed message on how the marks were computed

According to the message, the examiners had simply added up the Paper One (Theory) mark out of 100 to the Paper Two (Practical) mark out of 60 to get a total out of 160, which was later converted to a percentage. A number of members who had actually gone for marking testified that the theory paper had been poorly done. It was deduced that most of the students concentrated on the practical paper two which is normally given a higher weight (60%) and ignored reading the theory which is normally converted to a weight of 40% in line with the examinations format in the sub ICT NCDC syllabus and also the UNEB circular on Sub ICT.

If the rumour is true, it means the weights of the two papers changed as follows: Paper one contributed 100/160 which is 62.5%, and paper two contributed only 60/160 which is 37.5%. i.e. even if a candidate had passed the practical paper with 60/60, he/she would still fail with a 37.5% if he/she had not passed the theory paper. This is almost the opposite of the original spirit of prioritizing practical hands on skills as mentioned in the Sub ICT syllabus!

This rumour made things worse because the teachers felt disappointed to hear that UNEB had changed the ‘rules of the game’ without prior warning! Others from private schools said they had sadly lost their jobs due to the poor performance.

Reactions to the Rumour

As a way forward, I advised the members that we wait for the Official UNEB examiners report to be released on work of candidates before reaching a conclusion.

UNEB Releases Examiners Reports on Work of Candidates (RWC)

Every year around July/August, UNEB publishes comprehensive reports on the past year’s UNEB examinations.

The main purpose of the reports is to provide feedback (backwash) on the candidates’ performance in the subjects they sat during the examinations. It focuses on how the candidates responded to the questions set for a given subject examination. The focus centres mainly on the questions the candidates found difficult. Such questions are identified, possible causes of candidates’ mistakes pointed out and the expected responses in some cases given. The report points out topical areas of the curriculum not adequately covered during the course of teaching as evidence by candidates’ poor responses/answers in these areas. It
gives advice/recommendations on how such topical areas can be managed or taught better with the view to improve the teaching/learning processes in general. It is hoped that schools find the information contained in the RWC useful, and consequently, create a professional avenue for teachers to share topics that students find difficult to understand.

The RWCs were recently released by UNEB and I shared them through the Sharebility Uganda website for wider access to teachers of all other subjects which are included as well, and can be downloaded through the links below:

Below is an extract from the UACE RCW detailing what exactly caused poor performance in each of the papers of subsidiary ICT

S850/1 SUBSIDIARY ICT (THEORY PAPER) 

INTRODUCTION

The paper was made up of twenty (20) compulsory structured questions set from the entire syllabus.

The paper was more difficult than that of the previous year 2018. The performance of the candidates of UACE 2019 was poorer than that of the previous year. The time of 2½ hours allocated for the paper was adequate. 

Question Analysis 

                Well done questions:              1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 16 and 20.

                Poorly done questions:           11 (b), 14 and 18.

INDIVIDUAL QUESTION ANALYSIS 

Question 1

Required candidates to give the: 

  • Meaning/definition of a computer.
  • Examples of devices that can be connected to the computer’s system unit (system case) externally so as to enhance the computer’s operations.
  • The question was very popular.

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Failed to give the key terms that are associated to what a computer is.
  • Some others defined a computer in terms of ICT.
  • Others instead defined the information processing cycle.
  • They did not interpret the term ‘peripheral devices’.

Advice to Teachers 

  • Emphasize the four key terms in the definition of a computer as input, processing, storage and output. 
  • Classify the computer, hardware components, stating clearly what peripheral devices are. 

Question 2 

Required candidates to:

  • State reasons why certain installations are made in a computer laboratory.
  • Give measures to ensure continued supply of power (electricity) or to guard against dangers caused by electricity in the computer laboratory. 
  • Part (a) was not a popular question but (b) was very popular.

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Failed to state the conditions for a conducive working environment in the laboratory.
  • Some candidates mistook the word ‘lighting’ for ‘lightening’.
  • Listed the tools/devices that are used in the laboratory to guard against the dangers caused by electricity e.g. surge protectors and suppressors, without explaining how such devices are used. 
  • Others stated the alternative sources of power like solar systems, generators, power saver batteries, UPS instead of stating how such machines could be used to ensure continued supply of electricity in the laboratory in case of need.
  • Lacked building up clear statements. 

Advice to Teachers

  • Emphasize the concept of ergonomics and why it is necessary in the computer laboratory. 
  • Equip learners with electricity (power) security interventions since they are necessary but maybe dangerous to computer users.

Question 3

Required candidates to give ways of how ICT has disadvantaged the economic and social sectors. 

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Failed to distinguish the economic sector from the social sector and this caused them to give responses that relate to the social sector instead of the economic sector. 
  • Gave general disadvantages of using computers without particularly referring to the economic sector or the social sector. 

Advice to Teachers

  • Guide learners to distinguish sectors in terms of how ICT has impacted on them e.g. the economic, social, education and health sectors.
  • State clearly both the positive and negative impacts of ICT.
  • Relate the topic to events that occur in the learners’ life experiences. 

Question 4

Required candidates to state:

  • The systematic flow of stages in the process of starting a computer and give either the frontend booting process or the back-end booting process. 
  • The consequences of improper shut down of computers.

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Failed to give a systematic flow of stages in the starting of a computer.
  • They did not define the different types of the booting process. 
  • Mixed the setup of activities in the front-end with those in the back-end booting process.
  • Stated consequences related to data and information security rather than the dangers of improper shut down of computers. 

Advice to Teachers 

  • Demonstrate practically the booting process, distinguishing activities that take place in the front-end booting process from those that take place in the back-end booting process.
  • Disassociate booting process from computer setup configurations.
  • Emphasize to learners the dangers of improper shut down of computers and to always shut down computers in the expected way.

Question 5

  • Required candidates to identify and name the given input devices.
  • The question was popular.

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • They did not identify correctly device B as a track point and rather named it as track ball or keyboard.
  • Device D was named as a lighting pen or pen drive instead of a light pen or stylus pen. 

Advice to Teachers 

  • Give a variety of computer input devices and then outline the use or function of each device.
  • Demonstrate how such devices are used. 

Question 6 

Required candidates to:

  • Distinguish between system files and document files.
  • Give situations that necessitate the use of the feature ‘Save As’.

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Lacked knowledge about system files.
  • Interpreted the question to mean importance of ‘Save As’ instead of the circumstances that would make a user choose the option.

Advice to Teachers

  • Guide learners to build knowledge of file management.
  • Emphasize file types, file behaviors and file extensions. 
  • Disassociate the feature ‘Save As’ from ‘Save’.
  • Emphasize question interpretations to learners by giving them exercises that relate to the practical skills learnt in the theory paper tests. 

Question 7

Required candidates to: 

  • Distinguish between primary storage and secondary storage. 
  • Name the examples of primary storage and secondary storage.

The question was very popular.

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • They did not outline the key characteristics that relates primary storage to being directly accessed by the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and secondary storage as not directly accessed by the CPU during processing.
  • Gave ROM (Read Only Memory) as an example of secondary storage, which was not correct.

Advice to Teachers 

  • Clearly state that primary storage is storage being directly accessed by CPU during processing while the secondary storage is not. 
  • Emphasize that though primary storage e.g. ROM is non-volatile, its being directly accessed by the CPU during processing qualifies it to be referred to as a primary storage. 
  • Show the examples of ROM in form of CD-ROM and DVD-ROM as forms of secondary storage while ROM as storage being primary.
  • Also that besides RAM and ROM other examples of primary storage include registers, cache memory and CMAS memory. 

Question 8 

Required candidates to give a:

  • Description of the graphical user interface.
  • Function of each of the given computer desktop icons in relation to storage directories. 

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Lacked knowledge of the features of a Graphical User Interface (GUI) and how they are used by the end user to interact with a computer. 
  • Failed to describe the GUI as an operating system.
  • They did not state the distinct function of each storage directory but rather gave the function of icon i.e. giving access to the different storage directory. 
  • Stated that the different locations were used to hold data/information, which response did not address the demand of the question.

Advice to Teachers

  • Differentiate between GUI and the operating system.
  • Show the features of a GUI e.g. menus, windows, icons (graphics/images).
  • Practically demonstrate and explain how those features can be used by the user to easily interact with a computer. 
  • Compare the features of GUI with other user interfaces such as the command line interface. 
  • Explain the function of each icon on the desktop in relation to the program it represents on the desktop of the computer.

Question 9

Required candidates to give the definitions of the given terms in relation to data processing.

Candidates’ Weakness

Some candidates gave generalized responses of the given terms not associating them to data processing as a function of the CPU.

Advice to Teachers

Explain how the CPU works, through the machine cycle steps which will bring out the terms given in relation to data processing. 

Question 10 

Required candidates to: 

  • Explain elements/unique compositions of off-the-shelf software.
  • Give examples of off-the-shelf software.

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Failed to interpret the word ‘elements’ and mistook off-the-shelf software to mean a good software. 
  • Gave characteristics of a good software instead of off-the-shelf software.
  • Misspelt the brand names of the software examples.

Advice to Teachers 

  • Explain the features/characteristics of off-the-shelf software as compared to custom-made software. 
  • Emphasize correct spelling of brand names of ICT and software.

Question 11

Required candidates to: 

  • List devices and procedures needed for an Internet connection. 
  • Give benefits drawn from an Internet connection or from services offered on the Internet.

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Gave devices that relate to having a connection of Local Area Network (LAN) rather than the Internet.
  • Others mistook the question to require the uses of Internet rather than the advantages of having Internet connectivity. 

Advice to Teachers

  • Guide learners to differentiate between the Internet and a LAN.
  • Differentiate ‘uses’ from ‘advantages’ and ‘advantages’ from ‘the services’ on the Internet.
  • Articulate the benefits drawn as a result of using the services offered by the Internet. 

Question 12 

Required candidates to: 

  • Give the functions of the given different utility programs.
  • Outline ways of reducing computer virus spread.

Very popular question

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Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Gave definitions of the given utility program rather than the functions of each utility program.
  • Failed to use the correct language to express themselves. 
  • They did not state ways of how to guard against virus on shared devices. 

Advice to Teachers 

  • Differentiate utility programs by function rather than by definition.
  • Practically demonstrate to the learners how such utility programs work on a computer. 
  • Expose the learners to test items that would call for interpretation of define, explain/describe/state function of a term. 
  • Guide learners use the affirmative language needed for their responses.
  • Encourage learners to practice what they learn so that they can always recall most of the practical aspects gained during teaching. 

Question 13

Required candidates to: 

  • Write WWW in full.
  • Differentiate a ‘web browser’ from a ‘search engine’
  • Give example(s) of a web browser and a search engine.

The question was very popular 

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Interchanged words in the acronym and or wrote/used the word ‘website’ for ‘web’. 
  • Failed to differentiate between a ‘web browser’ and a ‘search engine’.
  • Mistook the examples of web browser to be for the search engine and vice versa.

Advice to Teachers

  • Emphasize order of words and capitalization of first letters when writing acronyms in full.
  • Illustrate uniqueness of search engines as compared to web browsers.
  • Demonstrate how common web browsers function as compared to search engines. 

Question 14

Required candidates to:

  • Give the difference between IP address and domain name. 
  • Describe the given protocols in relation to data communication. 

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Referred to protocols as being for only transmission of data.
  • Failed to state how different protocols work. 

Advice to Teachers

  • Practically teach protocols and domains and give a variety of examples.
  • Give protocols and their functions in relation to data communication. 

Question 15

Required candidates to give different ways of how a computer user can violate ethics.

Candidates’ Weakness

Lacked knowledge of computer ethics and rather gave the general laboratory regulations. 

Advice to Teachers 

  • Cover all the content as required of the syllabus.
  • Differentiate between ethics and regulations in relation to the computer laboratory and use. 

Question 16

Required candidates to list the components of data communication.

Candidates’ Weakness

Gave networking devices and other words that relate to a computer communication such as emails, server, routers and computers. 

Advice to Teachers 

Illustrate the difference between networking and elements of data communication.

Question 17 

Required candidates to apply knowledge of spreadsheet software and to specifically use a formula/function to manipulate data in a spreadsheet. 

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Failed to write correctly the brand names of specific examples of spreadsheet software e.g. Microsoft Excel.
  • They did not identify the formatting feature that was applied to the given content in the named cells.
  • Lacked knowledge of in-built functions or writing correct formulae to manipulate the data given.
  • Used values in cells instead of cell references to compute results.

Advice to Teachers 

  • Give regular practice to learners to obtain adequate knowledge of how functions/formulae are used to manipulate data in spreadsheets. 
  • Illustrate different forms of cell references while carrying out computations on values. 

Question 18 

Required candidates to describe tasks of a digital forensic specialist. 

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Gave generalized responses that never reflected the specific tasks of a digital forensic specialist.
  • Lacked knowledge of who a digital forensic specialist is.

Advice to Teachers 

  • Emphasize question interpretation aspects.
  • Expose learners to various careers and professions associated with ICT sector.

Question 19

Required candidates to:

  • State the uses of the given features in a presentation.
  • Give benefits of using ‘Handouts’ and ‘Note Pages’ in presentations. 

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Gave definition of the feature rather than the use of the feature in a presentation. 
  • Others did not give advantages but rather stated features in presentations.  Advice to Teachers 
  • Guide learners on question interpretation through various test items.
  • Outline the distinction between uses of a feature in comparison to the benefit drawn as a result of using a given feature.

Question 20

Required candidates to:

  • Give functions of a server in a computer network.
  • Name types of computer networks.

The question was very popular.

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Mistook a server for a switch/router as in a network.
  • Other candidates’ responses were in acronym e.g. MAN, CAN, PAN.
  • Some did not to know the correct spellings of the words when the acronyms are written in full.

Advice to Teachers 

  • Outline the function of each device as used on a computer network.
  • Emphasize writing correctly acronyms in full. 

 S850/2 & 3 SUBSIDIARY ICT (PRACTICAL) (Question Paper Available Here)

INTRODUCTION

There were two parallel practical papers 2 and 3.  Each paper consisted of five questions set from the topics: Word Processing, Electronic Spreadsheets, Electronic Presentation, Electronic Publication and Databases.  Candidates were to answer any three questions.

The papers were of the same level of difficulty as those of the previous year, 2018.  The performance of the candidates of UACE 2019 was comparable to that of the previous year. The quality of the work of the candidates presented was the same as that of the previous year. The time of 2 hours allocated for the papers was adequate.

Question Analysis

                Well done question:                Word Processing. 

                Poorly done question:                         Desktop publication. 

                Most attempted question:       Word Processing and Electronic Presentation. 

                Least attempted question:       Desktop Publication. 

INDIVIDUAL QUESTION ANALYSIS  

S850/2             SUBSIDIARY ICT (PRACTICAL)  Question One: Word Processing

Candidates were required to exhibit the skills of creating, saving, formatting, and editing a school timetable. They were also required to have the following skills for the creation of the table: Merging cells; text alignment and text direction; font face and font size variations; highlight colour; adding heading and inserting page numbers/footers.

Strengths of Candidates

  • Created the table with appropriate columns and rows.
  • Merged the cells and inserted text.
  • Copied and pasted the table to the second page.
  • Inserted page numbers and footers.
  • Produced hard copies of their work.

Candidates’ Weaknesses Failed to: 

  • Rotate vertically the text ‘ENJOY YOUR CAREER’ in the last column.
  • Insert page numbers alongside footers, they only inserted either a footer or a page number.
  • Create the timetable with appropriate columns and rows, instead they created a timetable with fewer columns and rows. 
  • Merge the cells and hence failed to enter text as required.
  • Apply a highlight colour on text, they would instead just fill the cells. 
  • Break the page to create a new page where to insert the copied table.

Advice to Teachers

Emphasize the concepts observed in the weaknesses of candidates. 

Question Two: Electronic Presentation

Candidates were required to use ‘Word Art’ to add a title, include text boxes, insert a clip art image in each text box, copy and paste the slide title, type text in a particular place holder, identify a place holder for the title and type in the title, insert appropriate clip arts, footers and slide numbers in slides, hyperlink slides using clip arts, saving and printing the slides as hand-outs.

Strengths of Candidates

  • Applied word art on the title.
  • Inserted text boxes within a place holder for the title slide.
  • Inserted text boxes and clip art images.
  • Copied and pasted appropriately.
  • Identified a title place holder and typed the relevant text.

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Typed the title and changed the font instead of using word art. 
  • Used only the place holder to type in the required text.
  • Some were not able to insert text boxes.
  • Inserted pictures from support file folder instead of clip arts.
  • Applied page footer instead of footers on the slide.
  • Failed to hyperlink slides using clip arts.

Advice to Teachers

  • Illustrate the use of “word art” while typing but not after typing. 
  • Show learners how to insert text boxes within the place holders.
  • Demonstrate inserting appropriate clip art images in specific location.
  • Differentiate for the learners a clip art from a picture.
  • Distinguish between a slide footer and a page footer • Train learners to print slides as handouts in presentation.

Question Three: [Spreadsheets]

Candidates were required to load a file and save it as their name and personal number; format currency values to Ugandan shillings using the symbol “UgX”; type the given labels and column titles in specific cells; use appropriate formulas to calculate accordingly; insert a row at the top of the worksheet and enter a suitable heading for the data; add a current date and time as a footer and print their worksheets.  

Strengths of the Candidates

  • Placed the required labels in the specific cells.
  • Typed the column titles in the required cells.
  • Used the formulas appropriately.

Candidates’ Weaknesses Failed to: 

  • Load and opted to directly copy and paste data which affected the cell referencing.
  • Format currency to UgX.
  • Adjust the cell references from the ones given in the question.
  • Merge cells to insert a heading.
  • Insert a heading instead they inserted a header.
  • Add the current date and time as a footer.
  • Fit the spreadsheet on one printed page.

Advice to Teachers

  • Address the listed weaknesses during the teaching of spreadsheets.
  • Teach this application early enough to allow learners to practice adequately.

Question Four: [Desktop Publishing]

Candidates were required to create a blank page and save it as their names and personal numbers; link the text boxes two and six; open the given support file; copy text from the file provided and paste it into text box two; Drop cap on the first paragraph in text box two; copy the last paragraph from the Newsletter and paste it in text box five; type a suitable heading for the Newsletter article; use word art to type a word on top of the text box 1 as the name of the Newsletter; load an image from the image folder, fit and flip it in text box four; insert footer of their names and personal numbers.

Candidates’ Weaknesses Failed to: 

  • Provide the correct file name.
  • Create a blank page with text boxes.
  • Apply the data in a correct application instead they used word processing.
  • Paste the given information in the required text box.
  • Apply drop caps instead they increased the font size of the first letter. 
  • Pasting the paragraph in the required text box.
  • Add the title on the header instead of just adding a heading.
  • Type the word without use of word art.
  • Load different images other than the required one.
  • Fit and flip the image.
  • Insert their names in the footer instead they inserted in the header.
  • Fit the publication on the A4 paper print layout.

Advice to Teachers

  • Guide learners on how to save file names using personal numbers and names.
  • Teach from first principles e.g. using blank templates before using in-built publication templates.
  • Test learners in several publication types.
  • Demonstrate how to insert images; manipulating pictures/images such as text wrapping, grouping, adjust image contrast/brightness, recolour image, image frames and flip image. 
  • Conduct special printing lessons for the learners.
  • Demonstrate ways of customizing files names.

Question Five: [Database Management]

Candidates were required to use a database management system to load a file; assign an appropriate data type to every field; make ‘Audi’ the default value for the ‘CAR MAKE’ field; create a form for entering the data; create a query to filter cars which are in stock; create another query showing ‘TOTAL COST’ obtained by multiplying ‘COST’ with ‘QTY’; create a report using the query; insert an image as a logo and add a footer of their names and personal numbers.

Candidates’ Weaknesses Failed to:

  • Assign suitable data types to the required database fields.
  • Enter the correct criteria in the query.
  • Compute the total cost.
  • Point the report to the correct source i.e. the Total Cost Query.

Advice of Teachers

  • Emphasize renaming of files.
  • Explain when and why a given data type is assigned to a specific field. 
  • Expose learners to as many field properties as possible.
  • Illustrate creating forms using required fields and how to save the form with the required name.
  • Demonstrate the use of various logical operators in extracting required data from a database.
  • Practice with the learners calculated queries.
  • Demonstrate how to generate a report from a specified source.
  • Illustrate inserting of external features to the footer area and header area of a report object without tampering with the already existing in-built features.
  • Show how to fit database objects on one printed page.
  • Expose learners to capturing screen shots or snipes of the design view of the queries and all other objects where the skill cannot be observed on a print-out. 

S850/3 SUBSIDIARY ICT (PRACTICAL) 

Question One: [Word Processing]

Candidates were required to load/open a file and save it; insert a picture and format it as a water mark in the document; change the font size of the whole to document; add a suitable title for the text; justify the whole document; apply a boarder on a paragraph; insert a footnote on a particular word in the document and define it in their own terms/words; copy the document to another page; apply an alternative page number format; insert a footer of their name and personal number.

Candidates’ Weaknesses Failed to: 

  • Apply a footnote on a specified word.
  • Insert the appropriate footnote definition in the correct position.
  • Define the specified word ‘education’.

Advice to Teachers

  • Expose learners to practical exercises so that they explore the various computer applications.
  • Illustrate all possible document processing features provided in the applications.
  • Update the software versions used in teaching to at most ten (10) years back.
  • Emphasize correct saving of files in a specific folder and how to transfer files from a resident folder on the computer to a CD.

Question Two: [Desktop Publishing] 

Candidates were required to select a blank ½ A4 top-folded paper size to design a card; use word art to design individual characters of a word; include relevant clip art or other images; lay out all content appropriately to form an attractive face page; use appropriate formatting features to add a two-line inverted text; type a relevant message on the card; include a company’s details in thin font size; add their names and personal numbers as a header and custom it to appear on some pages. 

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Inadequate skills and knowledge about publication.
  • Selecting the specified paper size for the card was a challenge.
  • Lacked creativity and a graphical mind to design the required publication.
  • Failed to apply simple formatting to text so as to make the publication attractive.

Advice to Teachers

  • Get well versed with publication as an application through research and refresher workshops. 
  • Illustrate to the learners the different designs and publications.

Question Three: [Database Management]

Candidates were required to open any new blank database using database management system software and save it as their names and personal numbers; design the fields of the table giving them appropriate data types; enter the data in the table that consisted of six field and seven records; create a query that could return only female employees in the computer department; create a calculated field ‘Actual Salary’ using the query design view; create a report from the actual salary query with all the fields; create a form with a light background colour to show some of the fields.

Strengths of the Candidates

  • Created and saved the databases in their names and personal numbers.
  • Entered all the fields and records as indicated in the table.
  • Named the query report successfully.
  • Created and saved the form as required.

Candidates’ Weaknesses

  • Saved the databases using only their names and forgot the personal numbers. 
  • Failed to choose appropriate data types for ‘Date of Birth’ and ‘Salary’. Some were assigning ‘number’ as a data type for date and salary. 
  • Failed the criteria part and could only pass the name part.
  • Failed the formula part and only passed the name part of the query
  • They did not point the report to the correct source object.

Advice to Teachers

  • Encourage learners to read the required file names and save accordingly.  
  • Emphasize the concept of assigning appropriate data types to specific fields.
  • Explain the various data types to learners.
  • Demonstrate data entry using design view and populating the table using forms. 
  • Give exercises that require learners to create queries and a variety of criteria.
  • Show learners a variety of formulae to use for computation using queries.
  • Give learners more practice on creation of reports.

Question Four: [Presentation] 

Candidates were required to load the given file and save it; use a master slide to apply changes that would affect all the slides at once in the presentation; pick images from the file folder and place each image on an appropriate slide; insert a new blank slide layout between slides; type words using the word art feature; insert a picture to appear behind words; move a slide to the end of the presentation; delete the slide within the presentation; use a word on slide three and link it to slide five; insert an updating date on all slides and print all the slides as a hand-out.

Strength of the Candidates

  • Added images on the slides appropriately.
  • Inserted the new slide and typed the given word using the word art feature. 
  • Included an updating date on all the slides.

Candidates’ Weaknesses Failed to: 

  • Save the file as their names and personal numbers instead they left it in the given name.
  • Use a Master slide to determine specified formatting attributes on the slides. They would just edit slides one by one.
  • Send the picture behind the words.
  • Move a slide to the end of the presentation.
  • Insert a hyperlink handle on a slide and directing it to a particular slide.
  • Move slides to re-arrange them in a chronological flow of the presentation.

Advice to Teachers

  • Explore the use of the master slide with their learners.
  • Provide practical work/exercise in the use of support files as a means of reducing cases of candidates using wrong images/text yet they should pick them from the given support file. 
  • Demonstrate as many presentation software features as possible.

Question Five: [Spreadsheets]

Candidates were to use a suitable application or software to open a file; enter the given column labels in particular cells; use suitable formulas and functions to determine the required items; include a column chart with axis titles; insert a header of their names and personal numbers.

Strengths of Candidates

  • Typed the column labels in the required cell.
  • Used the ‘SUM’ and ‘AVERAGE’ functions appropriately.
  • Included the right chart type, the column chart.

Candidates’ Weaknesses Failed to:

  • Enter all the given data fully.
  • Select the correct data range required.
  • Write the correct syntax for functions to compute ‘Position’ and ‘Comment’.
  • Select data for the chart; some selected only the ‘Total’ column without the ‘Names’ and other simply selected all the data.
  • Include the axis titles. They only added the chart title.
  • Locate the header section to insert their names and personal numbers.

Advice to Teachers

  • Demonstrate page layout in spreadsheets to enable learners manipulate various page features.
  • Explore all the chart attributes such as chart type, data selection, chart title, axis titles, and legends, formatting axes and data labels.
  • Illustrate ‘absolute referencing’ because it is essential in interpreting the logic of some functions such as RANK, VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP.
  • Emphasize correct cell references as it contributes to the learners’ proficiency in spreadsheets.

Conclusion

I encourage all ICT teachers to henceforth put equal efforts in teaching both theory and practical papers of Subsidiary ICT to be on a safe side, even when paper weighting is changed. I also appeal to our dear examiners to always communicate in advance before enforcing any decisions which may affect the outcomes of results, the job security of ICT teachers and the future of our students.

Article compiled by Mukalele Rogers

National Coordinator ITAU (2018-2020)

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