This is an email on the new HSC Standard 2 topic area Networks!
We usually try to keep our emails short and sharp, but we know Networks represents brand new content that is a concern to many teachers. At this juncture, please keep reading if you want a more detailed picture of how the SmarterMaths program deals with this new topic.
We've been working hard for quite awhile on the new HSC syllabus documents. Our platform is incredibly agile in responding to a changing syllabus and as NESA provides more guidance on new content, our database adapts.
While our Networks revision database will continue to expand in the coming months (it is currently around 5 hours in HSC equivalent time), I wanted to provide some information about how we have put together our revision questions in this blue sky environment.
The core information sources we have relied upon are as follows:
- The syllabus document. I have personally found this document extremely instructive in many areas of question design.
The benefits of a very close reading of the new syllabus with respect to General 2 changes in recent history cannot be underestimated. Likewise for the latest Standard 2 content changes, the syllabus outlines question styles, recommended detail in worked solutions and relative importance that should be reflected in any effective revision.
- Other Australian States' questions. The history of Network questions in other States over the last decade is gold dust in highlighting themes and question types, including importantly, the sub-topic areas that tend to be suited to higher or lower band testing.
- Other sources. We research widely and cherry pick questions that specifically address particular new dot points in the syllabus.
LET'S GET REALLY SPECIFIC
N2 Network Concepts
- Questions review basic concepts such as; determining the number of odd and even vertices in a network, understanding the definition of a tree, connected network, weighted edge etc.., different network diagrams that express the same information, converting table and matrix information into network diagrams and vice versa (a major contributor to our revision database that acknowledges a clear syllabus emphasis), and deducing information from various directed networks.
- The VCE exams have provided a rich history of past questions in this area. Notwithstanding multiple choice questions in the new Standard 2 exam format are very limited, we have included a significant number of these questions in our database as they allow teachers to target specific concepts and evaluate student understanding (or lack thereof).
- This topic area has typically been associated with low to mid-band style questions from our research.
- Exemplar questions from the syllabus influence our question choices in this area. Importantly, Djikstra's algorithm is a focus in the detail of our worked solutions, methodically described as per the syllabus document.
- This topic area is well represented in our question database, drawing from excellent direction from the syllabus document and past VCE exam questions. Typical levels of difficulty in this topic area are around band 3-4 level.
- The worked solutions go over both Prim's and Krukul's algorithms in particular detail, reflecting the step by step approach outlined in the syllabus.
N3 Critical Path Analysis
Flow Networks and Minimum Cuts
- Minimum cut questions have been examined within the VCE exams for many years, and importantly for revision purposes, have regularly caused problems for students.
- Our question database addresses the challenging areas identified in past non-NSW state exams. In addition to this, we ensure our database covers many lower band questions, in a similar style to the specific examples given in the syllabus.
- This is where things get really interesting in Networks. With 6 dedicated pages in NESA's topic guidance and a sample exam that dedicated a five-mark question to this specific area, all indicators point to a significant mark allocation in the 2019 HSC.
- A number of our database questions look at drawing a network diagram for a project from a table of activities and then scanning forwards and backwards to establish EST and LST for each activity. This is a critical competency and has proven very challenging in other states.
- Due to the importance of setting out the information in network diagrams logically and clearly (after scanning), we provide detailed worked solutions. We regard it as important that this detail reflects two styles of answer layout - the NESA sample exam answer and the syllabus topic guidance.
- Questions involving shortening critical paths have proven challenging, particularly when reducing float times create new critical path(s). A number of questions explore this concept.