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

Conclusions and Reflections

The scenario underlying the School Party PSI task generally was appropriate for the fourth grade students, and it was colorful with a number of interactive features to keep students engaged and motivated. However, taken all together, the task may have been a little too ambitious, resulting in unusually high levels of non-response (see Appendix A) and lower achievement than expected on many of the items.

  • School Party was a full-length PSI task administered together with other difficult PSI items in a 36-minute session, such that 21 percent of students stopped responding before the end and 14 percent ran out of time. Future fourth grade PSI tasks should only be half as long, mini-PSI tasks, and should be administered in sessions together with regular TIMSS items.
  • Interactivity can be very successful in encouraging high performance, as for example, the autofilling pie chart on Screen 6. However, it can create a barrier to accomplishing the task if students cannot recognize what to do, as with the slider for the bottles of lemonade and water on Screen 7.
  • While working to realize the potential benefits that technology has to offer, it is crucial to keep in mind the basic principles: avoid item dependency, minimize reading load, and ensure that students know how to input their responses to the items.