Without giving too much away, I’m surmising that parallel arrays has come down from Higher and is now part of the N5 Course Spec?!
I know it isn’t, but I can’t see how this task can be completed to the design given without using them. Am I missing something?
Hi Enrico. The task only needs one array. The purpose of “Store new startMiles” might be what you’re missing.
Sorry Enrico, I spoke to soon. This looks like a parallel array problem.
Thanks Paul. I’ve also had replies by email confirming this.
I know it’s not in the specification, but I’ve always used examples that make use of parallel arrays at N5.
I thought it was an oversight that the mention of parallel arrays is in the higher spec and not the N5. /shrug
Could absolutely be done with parallel arrays but it’s also still possible using one array and a variable for the new start miles.
@Lee – If it is not in the specification then it is not in the course (as we have been told on numerous occasions :-). I too have let N5 students see examples were parallel arrays are used, but that is not the point because there will be N5 classes who will not have been exposed to them because, well, it wasn’t in the course!
@Mr P – I agree that there are solutions that don’t require a second array to total stage mileage, but they veer far from the given design and the point of the exercise is that the candidate is given 15 marks for matching the design. As presented there is no way of calculating the total mileage from the new start mileage as the start mileage is reset to the current mileage at each iteration of the input stage and the totalling is not done in this part of the design.
The totalling is at the output section, so previous stage mileages would need to have been stored (which is what the design tells the candidate to do) in an array parallel to the stage costs array which are also totalled at the output section.
@Enrico, I totally agree with your points.
I spent loads of time last week trying to understand how to create a solution within the N5 Specifications and struggled to get a final solution which pupils may be able to implement. I have spoken to a number of teachers who all say the same thing, the coursework is ambiguous this year and I feel that my students (who are generally good students) will struggle to implement a solution to this problem. The problem is too wordy and the split structure diagram makes the actual problem difficult to follow.
Just my opinion though! 🙂
@Peter – I agree also that the split structure diagram presents an additional problem (which IMO has been done purely to make it fit into A4 portrait format – SQA lost the ability to select landscape or ran out of A3 paper?), but I am not averse to a candidate ‘redrawing’ the diagram as a single continuous design if this helps them follow it as directed.
I have highlighted many times in the past (to the point that I gave up mentioning it) that N5/H Practical Assessments in CS seem to adhere to the notion that the challenge is via obscurity, and the candidate is not being assessed on their knowledge of the course but their ability to interpret the vagaries of the person setting the question and their predilections, where the setter will use obscurity in the description to make the task harder. For example – why refer to the charging stations as “A” and “B” etc. unless to intentionally conflict with the design that indicates an array will be used to store the details. Does referring to them as “1” and “2” etc. make that too obvious, because if it does why does it matter because they are being assessed on how well they can code the design, not if they can reconcile it with the ambiguities in the description.
Of course this year we have the added problem that the setter appears to be not 100% aware of the course content and levels…
Having read this thread I am quite concerned with the N5 Assignment. If there is indeed programming concepts required to complete the N5 Assignment that isn’t in the spec, then this is a major oversight by SQA.
This will affect a large number of schools/students.
I have already brought it to my faculty Leader’s attention that this year. Instead of me being confident students will go into the practical assessment with the opportunity to pick up a lot of marks, I think the problem for the biggest element of the coursework is going to trip up a lot of students, and put much more pressure on the final exam to scrape a pass.
On the other hand, I was able to complete the Higher coursework within about 30 minutes, re-using taught materials I would normally use for the course. I know there is a little trick step in the output, will leave that for others to discover, however, in comparison to N5 it is extremely straight forward and would expect the majority of students who have covered all the arrangements and also discussed the limitations of some of the standard algorithms to catch the intentional trick step.
There is no doubt that the task this year is more challenging. I feel the SDD and the DDD parts (Well the 2nd SQL task) are possibly the most difficult we have seen. I think many will struggle with the task as a result
To be devils advocate here…..
The SDD task is using 2 arrays, but for 2 different purposes. Yes they are related, but they are not truly parallel arrays.
The arrays are not storing parts of a larger data item across the arrays. Each one is an individual.
Yes you process them within the same loop, but they are distinct from each other.
@derek_s – I’ve had that interpretation directed at me already, but I would counter that by stating that they ARE related data because they correspond to stages of the journey recorded at each charging station (distance travelled and the cost related to that distance).
By two counts this for me fails the ‘not really Higher’ argument that has been forwarded to me to explain this error. At a technical level the candidate is required to declare two arrays that are the same size and are subsequently processed at the same time within the same loops – that (at code level) is the very definition of parallel arrays. At a conceptual level the data being stored in the arrays is related by identity (STAGE cost and STAGE mileage) therefor falling within the scope of why parallel arrays exist. As I said – trying to argue this isn’t the case as a ‘get-out’ doesn’t cut it for me.
The argument seems to be ‘well, what are parallel arrays anyway’? The answer to that is that they are mentioned specifically in the Higher specification and not in the N5 specification, so ANYTHING using them should not be required to be completed by the candidate in order to achieve marks at N5 level.
I am not party to the marking scheme so it may be that marks are not being awarded for this, but the task states the candidate is expected to meet the design. I have exemplified the design in code and annotated it word-for-word using the text of the design and I cannot see another way to meet the requirements of task 1(b) as written.
Yeah interesting. This can clearly be seen from 2 perspectives.
Like you I have no knowledge of this beyond the task itself. And I have never been involved at the SQA etc etc. My experience purely comes from Understanding Standards events and local discussions.
My suggestion was based purely on past experience and looking at alternative interpretations of the task and data structures it needs to use. I think the key thing is that, yes they are related, but they are not part of the same data item. Clearly that matches other communication you have had and would allow the task to fall within the course spec. Based on the design I agree 2 arrays are the only way.
I also agree this will cause problems and confusion some students. The detail and language is also a step up from previous tasks, not as crystal clear as I would like. It is a difficult task
I agree with Enrico. It is without a doubt parallel arrays which aren’t in the N5 spec.
I had a look through past assignments (2021 is not available on the website, nor any prior to 2018…) and arrays are not required on 2 of the 4 available assignments and are shoe-horned into the other two where they really shouldn’t be.
This year, two parallel arrays are required in arguably the most difficult program in National 5 Computing Science history (even without parallel arrays).
Further to that, the answer to part A isn’t given in part B, so there’s no need for it to be split into parts.
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