I have made a few predictions about PISA both on this blog and on Twitter. I predicted an entrenchment of East Asian countries at the top of the table, a decline for Finland and perhaps a decline for Canada. These were all based upon my interpretation of the policy decisions they have been making and on recent trends.
East Asia is more mixed than I predicted. Singapore has moved further ahead but there have been some declines in Vietnam and Korea. Finland has fallen away again, as predicted, and Canadian maths scores have dropped by another 4 points – these both add to longer trends.
I also made predictions about collaborative problem-solving but it appears that the results for these tests won’t be out until 2017.
I didn’t realise that survey data was going to be published alongside the science results and this is fascinating. PISA designed a set of questions to determine how ‘teacher-directed’ or ‘enquiry-based’ the science teaching is.
The data shows that the greater the level of enquiry-based science instruction, the worse students’ science scores and that the greater the level of teacher-directed instruction, the greater the science scores. In PISA’s words:
“Perhaps surprisingly, in no education system do students who reported that they are frequently exposed to enquiry based instruction (when they are encouraged to experiment and engage in hands-on activities) score higher in science. After accounting for students’ and schools’ socio-economic profile, in 56 countries and economies, greater exposure to enquiry-based instruction is associated with lower scores in science.”
I don’t find this surprising at all. There are important reasons why inquiry learning does not work very well.
Yet, just last weekend, an increase in the amount of inquiry learning in science classes was being suggested in The Conversation as the solution to stagnating TIMSS scores.
We need to move away from strategies that we prefer on philosophical grounds in favour of ones that are the most effective.