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 2: Science Grade 4

Farm Investigation

Screen 2 – Clues in the Garden

Screen 2 shows all the animals on the farm (the list of possible “suspects”) and asks the students to suggest two different clues that George should look for to help him decide which animal ate his plants. This question requires some basic knowledge of attributes/characteristics of the farm animals shown, and expects the students to think about what evidence George would need to advance his investigation. For full credit (2 points), students provide two of the following clues: hair/fur, footprints/tracks, poop/scat/excrement, bite marks, eggs, feathers, and which plants were eaten.

Click video to play

Maximum Score Points: 2
Content Domain: Life Science
Topic Area: Characteristics and Life Processes of Organisms
Cognitive Domain: Applying
Science Practice: Generating Evidence


Exhibit 16 presents the percentage of students in each country, overall and by gender, that earned full credit on the item by providing two acceptable clues. The percentage earning partial credit by providing just one clue also is shown. Students generally found this item to be challenging, with just 25 percent earning full credit on average internationally, and 21 percent earning partial credit. Average performance was highest in Sweden, Hungary, Finland, and England, where 40 percent or more of the students achieved full credit. Girls performed a little better than boys, with 27 percent achieving full credit on average, compared with 24 percent for boys.