TIMSS 2007

The results from TIMSS 2007 were released today, and the media appears to be full of reports about how the students in each of our countries are doing. Overall, countries from Asia are on top as usual. If you want to learn more, there is a webcast to watch (.rm and .mov formats), international reports to read as well as a Technical Report and a very interesting set of Encyclopedias, which offer a nice overview of the mathematics (and science) teaching in each of the participating countries. That means: lots of interesting reading to do!

IEJME, October issue revisited

I have written about the October issue of International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education in an earlier post. For some reason, the full-text version of the articles in this journal don’t appear as a new issue of the journal appears – at least for me they don’t! The articles are available now however, and you can freely download them in PDF format. This provides a nice occasion of referring to the articles again, and writing more about one of them:

In this collection, I found the article by Chamberlin, Powers and Novak particularly interesting, so I will provide you with some more details about it. The study reported in this article is related to the No Child Left Behind initiative in the U.S. In relation to this initiative, several professional development courses in the U.S. are required to assess the teachers’ content knowledge. This article reports on the evaluation of the impact of these assessments. Although the article does not provide a very thorough theoretical background, it gives a good overview of the survey that were made to investigate the teachers’ perceptions about these assessments.

One of the results of this survey was that the teachers appeared to learn more because of the assessments. They explain it like this:

We surmise that these positive effects may be due to an important aspect of theassessment process in these PD courses – the assessment and learning of mathematical topics and material was on-going and demonstrating mastery of those ideas was expected.

Many teachers appear to be reluctant to be tested, and this study apparently describes a study which had positive experiences with assessing the teachers after a course, and this might be interesting for other teacher educators or providers of in-service courses to take a closer look at.

Mathematics assessment in East Asia

Frederick K.S. Leung from The University of Hong Kong has written an article in ZDM about assessment in East Asia. The article is entitled In the books there are golden houses: mathematics assessment in East Asia, and it was published online on Tuesday. The paper is an adaption of a plenary lecture that Leung presented at the Third East Asian Regional Conference on Mathematics Education in Shanghai, August 2005. Here is the article abstract:

In this paper, some fundamental issues on mathematics assessment and how they are related to the underlying cultural values in East Asia are discussed. Features of the East Asian culture that impact on mathematics assessment include the pragmatic nature of the culture, the social orientation of East Asian people, and the lop-sided stress on the utilitarian function of education. East Asians stress the algorithmic side of mathematics, and mathematics is viewed more as a set of techniques for calculation and problem solving. The notion of fairness in assessment is of paramount importance, and there is a great trust in examination as a fair method of differentiating between the able and the less able. The selection function of education and assessment has great impact on how mathematics is taught, and assessment constitutes an extrinsic motivation which directs student learning. Finally, the strengths and weaknesses of these East Asian values are discussed.