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Projects 2015

How school context, teachers’ characteristics and practices are related to high school students’ outcomes and post-school educational trajectories

Direction 1. Why do Russian pupils cope with TIMSS and PISA tests differently?

According to the international organizations' reports, the change of the industrial era to the post-industrial, leads to a change of educational outcomes requirements. The school must form not only knowledge, that limited by particular subject, but also general skills, such as cognitive skills of dealing with problem situation. These skills involve process of goals setting, planning, monitoring and controlling of the dealing with the problem, as well as analyzing of success and failures. One kind of tasks, that requires those skills complex, is represented by PISA test. Rather low score of Russian students on the PISA test and high level on average mathematical knowledge as a result of another math tests (TIMSS) at the same time, require explanation due to importance of those skills for students’ development.

The purpose of the research: to determine general features of the problems which Russian school graduates face while solving unfamiliar, complex and non-routine tasks (e.g., math tasks).

Goals:

 to determine what makes PISA tasks more difficult for Russian students comparing with students from other countries;

 to estimate the input of subject-specific knowledge and general skills (general problem solving) in the result of unfamiliar, complex and non-routine tasks solving (PISA tasks);

 to determine which kind of factors according to the tasks type are helpful and which interfering students to represent it's structure the most useful way for solving;

 to identify the most difficult cognitive steps in solving of complex tasks (PISA tasks);

 to determine the role of the assistance, provided at different stages of the problem solving, all along the test or few stages of problem-solving;

— to evaluate the effect of motivating students during the test on the results and the effect of gender stereotypes on student achievement in mathematics.

To address these issues will be developed a set of tasks which are various in difficulty degree, context and volume of the material, that required for its solving. Further, we are planning to develop design of several experimental studies, up to 300 of 8-10th grades will participate in this experiments. Methods of experimental research, observation and interviews will be used.

Direction 2. School administration characteristics, teachers' attitudes, practices and academic achievements of the students.

Modern educational studies indicated that variation in the level of students' abilities is caused by different reasons. At the same time, from the standpoint of educational practice, extremely important is the question of relationship between academic achievements of students and characteristics of the main agents of educational fields: school administration and teachers. Another problem is a perception of the students' families’ cultural background by school administration and teachers through their attitudes. According to PISA and TIMSS reports, there are high percent of students who have not reached the minimum skills level and low percent of students who, by contrast, have mastered the program at the highest level in Russia. This indicates that modern Russian school's methods of teaching are not focused on that part of students which is the most motivated and family supported. Finally, in the studies focused on effectiveness of education, attention called to the problem-based learning and ability to transfer knowledge to new situations. However, most of these studies have been conducted on a small and unrepresentative sample and often have problems with external validity. In addition, the results of these studies do not allow to figure out specific teacher practices that determine the ability of students to use the subject knowledge in other contexts.

The purpose of the research: to investigate teachers' and school administrators' attitudes toward school activities and math teachers’ attitudes toward the teaching process, as well as the relationship between the teachers’ characteristics and pupils’ educational outcomes.

Goals:

— To examine school administrators’ and teachers’ vision of successful work, their understanding of educational goals and objectives;

To examine the presence of distinction, which teachers do between students with high and low cultural capital, transfer of this distinction to the school’s and teacher’s objectives, teaching practices;

— To examine math teachers’ practices and attitudes toward practice oriented tasks;

— To analyze the relationship between teacher’s characteristics, practices and pupils’ educational outcomes.

To address these issues will be implemented qualitative analysis of teachers’ and school administration interviews, analysis of classes’ video data. To assess the relationship between teachers’ characteristics, practices and student’s educational achievement statistical analysis will be implemented. Particular models of analysis will be chosen on the design developing step. 

Direction 3. Development of a positive attitude toward school classes as a factor of academic achievement and professional self-determination.

There is a strong interest to the process of professional self-determination of youth. The process of profession choosing in Russia often related with the prevailing attitudes and stereotypes or current educational opportunities. Professional choice is mostly situational and unrelated to the real interests and abilities of children. However, the results of studies show, that those students, who have made their professional choice according to their own interests and abilities are more positive with studying and confident about their future career (Popov, Tumeneva, Kuzmina, 2012). In this context, an understanding of professional self-determination process, which starts at school, is impossible without evaluation of students' motivation, perception, abilities and attitudes to the studying.

The purpose of the research: to estimate the features of formation of a positive attitude towards school subjects and its relation to professional self-determination.

Goals:

— To highlight teachers' and school characteristics, which are related with the formation of a positive attitude toward school subjects (mathematics and science);

— Tassess an effect (direct and indirect) of self-confidence and interests on further academic achievements and career trajectories choice;

— Tanalyze the validity and reliability of the engagement in the process of professional self-determination scale;

— To estimate the relationship between school factors and engagement in the process of professional self-determination;

— To collect the data (teachers and students of vocational schools contextual data, syllabus and students’ educational achievements information - longitudinal study).

According to the research goals, longitudinal study data of students’ life trajectories will be analyzed. To estimate the relationship between self-confidence and further achievements, occupational trajectories regression analysis, fixed effects model and path analysis will be implemented. To explore validity and reliability of engagement in occupational self-determination process scale confirmatory factorial analysis and IRT analysis will be implemented.  

 


 

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