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High achievers are the best in applying their school knowledge

On April 2, 2014 at the XV April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development the "Development of Education» section has discussed the results of international comparative studies of the quality of education TIMSSi PISA on the same sample of Russian schoolchildren.

High achievers are the best in applying their school knowledge

On April 2, 2014 at the "School and Society" session of the "Development of Education» section of  the XV April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development has discussed the results of international comparative studies of the quality of education TIMSSi PISA on the same sample of Russian schoolchildren.

The results were presented by Alena Waldman (Institute of educational content and teaching methods of the Russian Academy of Education) and Julia Tyumeneva (Institute of Education- HSE). Another participant and inspirer of the research - Martin Carnoy (Stanford University professor and scientific director of the International Laboratory for Educational Policy Research- HSE) couldn't attend the conference. 

This research has been repeatedly referred by the participants of the traditional weekly Seminar of the Institute of Education Higher School of Economics and by the authors of the publications in the media. Viktor Bolotov- scientific advisor of the HSE Center for Education quality monitoring- has mentioned that the research is unique and unprecedented, mostly because of the fact that although the TIMSS and PISA were conducted in many countries, only Russia has managed to make a comparative analysis of their results. 

A well-known problem of Russian schools is the fact that our children are able to perform complex actions, for example, in mathematics, but can not interpret a graph with the same features in real-life situations. Our children are successful in solving school tasks  that are given as part of TIMSS, however, facing the tasks associated with everyday context (the PISA study foundation), puts them in a dead end.

Does the school knowledge help in solving problems that we face in real life? Is it useful to thoroughly study the subject, if  is not useful in future? Maybe, basic knowledge is enough? It should be noted that these questions are asked not only by young people who consider themselves overloaded in studying ."Must pass, but do not know", " what I do in life is not useful" - typical slogans of many students and even scientists around world.
As Alain Waldman said, there is a problem of inconsistency of educational outcomes that form the school and real-life situations faced by children.
TIMSS and PISA assess virtually the same subject and cognitive domains. But contexts have different tasks, the logic of their construction is different. While in the first case it is necessary, for example, to calculate the area of the shaded figure, in the second - the area of the apartment and the job will be a lot of information from which it is necessary to isolate and express it mathematically.
The study sample consisted of more than 4,300 children, carry out the task of both comparative studies. One of the challenges was to analyze the performance not only of all the jobs in a row, but those who largely correspond to each other. Therefore, in the PISA tasks have been allocated curriculum-based, that is, based on the content of the school curriculum with clearly highlighted the theme: for example, in a kind of "life" job needed to apply the formula for the area of a circle. In tota, 22 tasks were selected.
TIMSS sample participants were divided into 5 groups according to the result - from the strongest to the weakest. The researchers then analyzed the percentage of jobs PISA which were carried out by representatives of each of these groups. This made it possible to answer the question to what extent the possession of the subject material helps in life. It turned out that the increase in PISA assignments in the transition from the first (the weakest) in the second group is 6-7 per cent, and then the transition from group to group, this increase remains constant. With one exception: the transition from the fourth to the fifth - the most powerful - a group rises sharply to 14 percent.

The conclusion is obvious: the better the pupil has subject material (in this case - in mathematics), the more likely he will be able to use this knowledge in life. But this dependence is nonlinear: those, who are the best in using of knowledge in practice are the best in school material.

Boris Elders, HSE News Service