Findings from the TIMSS 2019 Problem Solving and Inquiry Tasks

Ina V.S. Mullis, Michael O. Martin, Bethany Fishbein, Pierre Foy, and Sebastian Moncaleano

Chapter 1: Mathematics Grade 4

School Party

Screen 6 – Buying the Fruit

Item 6A

Item 6A asking students to complete a pie chart based on a table of results was among the items with the highest achievement on the School Party PSI task. The fourth grade students felt confident about completing the pie chart even this late in the assessment, because nearly all of the students still working on the task attempted this item. They also found it engaging. When a student drags one of the fruits, for example “apples,” onto the chart, the section autofills with apples, providing some colorful interactivity. There were 6 sections in the chart, and analysis of the process data found that across the countries students averaged 8 autofills (revising their original answers). Interestingly, some students really liked the autofill feature. The maximum number of autofills was 97 by a student in the Netherlands, a student in Hong Kong SAR had 94, in the United States 92, and Spain 91. Across countries students averaged a maximum of 54 autofills.

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Maximum Score Points: 1
Content Domain: Data
Topic Area: Reading, Interpreting, and Representing
Cognitive Domain: Applying

Results 6A

On average, 65 percent of the fourth grade eTIMSS students correctly applied the data in the table of class to create a pie chart (see Exhibit 10). Hong Kong SAR performed very well with 90 percent correct, followed by Singapore (84%) and Norway (81%). On average across countries, boys had slightly higher achievement than girls.

Item 6B

In contrast to the high performance on the pie chart, 6B was one of the most difficult items in this PSI task. Students were asked to use the class results where 15 out of 30 students voted for apples, to decide how many of the 400 pieces of fruit being bought for the party should be apples. Eighteen percent of the students on average skipped over this problem that required simple proportional reasoning based on one-half (or several steps of calculations).

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Maximum Score Points: 1
Content Domain: Data
Topic Area: Using Data to Solve Problems
Cognitive Domain: Reasoning

Results 6B

Exhibit 11 shows the low percentages of correct responses provided by students in eTIMSS countries, with only 14 percent of the students on average providing a correct response. Korea with 28 percent was the highest performing country, but the rest of the eTIMSS countries had 25 percent correct or less (a number of countries had less than 20 percent or even 10 percent correct). Because 3/6 and 1/2 were relatively common among the incorrect responses, some students understood that half the pieces of fruit should be apples but did not convert that fraction to determine that the party planners should buy 200 apples for the party.

In contrast to the small gender differences in the relatively high levels of success shown for making the pie chart, Part B revealed considerable gender differences across countries on average favoring boys, although both boys and girls had relatively low percentages of success in using proportional reasoning or calculations to determine the number of apples to buy.