An investigation of international science achievement using the OECD’s PISA 2006 data set




Milford, Todd

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School Effectiveness Research (SER) is concerned with efforts to better understand the effectiveness enhancing relationship between student and school variables and how these variables primarily influence academic achievement (Scheerens, 2004). However, one identified methodological shortcoming in SER is the absence of cross-cultural perspectives (Kyriakides, 2006). This is a concern as what may prove effective in one nation does not necessarily mean that it can be easily and seamlessly imported into another with the same results. This study looked at the relationships between science self-beliefs and academic achievement in science across all nations who participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2006. It further explored the variance accounted for by cultural, social and economic capital (the elements of the PISA socioeconomic status variable) for each country in PISA 2006 when predicting scientific literacy. Lastly, it used hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) to analyze data from PISA 2006 for nations experiencing high rates of immigration (i.e., Germany, Spain, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand). The outcome measures used for these countries were achievement scores in science, mathematics and reading. The variables examined at the student level were science self-efficacy, science self-concept, immigrant status and socioeconomic status. The variables examined at the school level were student level aggregates of school proportion of immigrants and school socioeconomic status. In the correlation analysis between science literacy and either science self-concept of science self-efficacy, findings suggest that at the student level, students with both higher science self-concept and higher science self-efficacy tend to achieve higher academically. However, at the country level the relationship was negative between self-concept and academic achievement in science (i.e., countries with higher science self-concept tend to achieve lower on scientific literacy). When the variables that comprised each of the cultural, social, and economic components of SES were regressed on scientific literacy for the PISA sample, cultural capital accounted for 16% of the variance in scientific literacy scores compared to 14% for social capital, 13% for the composite Economic Social and Cultural Status (ESCS), and 12% for economic capital. In the HLM null models, the intraclass correlations for the all countries except for Germany ranged from .16 to .29 (Germany’s was between .57 and .68). In the final models, at level-1 country, immigrant status tended to negatively influence achievement (i.e., non-native students are predicted to have lower performance), while science self-efficacy and science self-concept positively influenced achievement. The student level ESCS variable also impacted achievement positively. At the school level, level-2, school mean ESCS or school proportion of immigrants were found to significantly influence the level-1 predictors; however, a good deal of variability across nations was observed. The findings from this study demonstrate that there are some distinct national differences in the relationships between science self-beliefs, immigrant status and academic achievement.



PISA, Multilevel Models