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Trends in Mathematics and Science Study

Trends in Mathematics and Science Study



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Published by William Molnar

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Published by: William Molnar on May 16, 2009
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1William Molnar, Vincent Gordon, Kindra Jones, and Maria Newton-Tabon
The following response is a collaborative effort of Vincent Gordon, Kindra Jones, William Molnar, and Maria Newton-TabonIEA’s Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) gives a lot of information about students’ science and math achievement in an internationalframework. TIMSS tests students in grades four and eight and also gathers a wideragne of data from their schools and teachers about curriculum and instruction inmathematics and science. TIMSS findings have been used by many countries aroundthe world in their efforts to develop better methods in teaching science andmathematics.Involving more than 60 countries, “TIMSS 2007 is the most recent in thefour-year cycle of studies to measure trends in students’ mathematics and scienceachievement”. TIMSS one was in 1995 in 41 countries, the second in 1999 involving 38countries. TIMSS 2003 consisted of more than 50 countries. The majority of countriesparticipating in TIMSS 2007 will have data going back to 1995.TIMSS Advanced assesses students who are leaving school for preparation inadvanced physics and mathematics. Since the 1995 assessment, however, TIMSS hasnot assessed children who are nearing the end of high school. Recognizing the stronglink between scientific competence and economic productivity,and given the relativelylong time period since the 1995 assessments, countries around the world haveexpressed interest in participating in TIMSS Advanced. They want internationallycomparative data about the achievement of their students enrolled in advanced coursesdesigned to lead into science-oriented programs in university. By joining TIMSSAdvanced, ”countries that participated in 1995 can determine whether the achievement
2William Molnar, Vincent Gordon, Kindra Jones, and Maria Newton-Tabon
of students having taken advanced coursework has changed over time. Countriesparticipating in TIMSS Advanced for the first time can assess the comparative standingin mathematics and physics in an international context”. Introduction TIMSS uses theprogram mostly defined, as “the major organizing concept in considering howeducational opportunities are provided to students, and the factors that influence howstudents use these opportunities”. To begin the process of defining the topics to beassessed in TIMSS Advanced, this document built on the composition of the 1995Advanced Mathematics and Physics assessments to draft a Framework for TIMSSAdvanced 2008. The description of cognitive domains also benefited from the TIMSSdevelopmental project, funded by a number of countries, to enable reporting TIMSS2007 results according to cognitive domains. The first draft of this document wasthoroughly reviewed by participating countries, and updated accordingly. Countriesprovided comments about the subjects incorporated in their subject matter in advancedmathematics and physics courses, and made recommendations about the desirabilityand suitability of assessing particular topics.TIMSS, including TIMSS Advanced, is amajor undertaking of theIEA. The IEA has taken full responsibility for the managementof the project. The “TIMSS International Study Center” correlates with the IEASecretariat in Amsterdam on the translation ,the “IEA Data Processing Center” inGermany on construction of the documents for the database, “Statistics Canada” onsampling, and “Educational Testing Service in New Jersey on the psychometric scalingof the data.The question that is needed to be answered is this appropriate to use TIMSS toevaluate the 56 differing state or state-like education entities in the United States? This
3William Molnar, Vincent Gordon, Kindra Jones, and Maria Newton-Tabon
author chooses to focus on the pros of validity and reliability with regards to thisparticular assessment. Based on research, this assessment is reliable and valid due tothe content domains which “define the specific mathematics subject matter covered bythe assessment, and the cognitive domains which define the sets of behaviors expectedof students as they engage with the mathematics content. The cognitive domains of mathematics and science are defined by the same three sets of expected behaviors-knowing, applying, and reasoning” . In other words, although there could exist other variables factored into why this particular test may not be valid or reliable, the commonfactors that span continents and are shared with these age groups (fourth and eighthgraders) that are tested are “the mathematical topics or content that students areexpected to learn and the cognitive skills that students are expected to have developed”(2007).The IEA developed TIMSS to compare the educational achievement around theglobe. TIMMS began in the 1990s with a desire to study international studies of students within the same age/or grade bracket. It was believed that math and scienceeducation would be effective for the economic development in the technological world of the future. The break-up of the Soviet Union brought about new countries wanting to beparticipants in this study to help provide them with data to guide their educationalsystemsTIMMS contained a measurement of science and math in conjunction with aquestionnaire for student and teacher. The measurement included topics in science andmath students should receive by grades 4 and 8. The questionnaires used were tocollect information on the background of students, their attitudes, and their belief system

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