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 4 – Footprints

On Screen 4, students are shown the four footprints and required to demonstrate their ability to make consistent, accurate measurements by using the ruler tool to measure the length in centimeters of each footprint from top to bottom. Students had to correctly position the ruler for each footprint, read the centimeter scale, and record their answers using the number pad. The scoring guide allowed for a tolerance of ± 0.1 cm for student responses. To receive credit (1 point) students had to record correct measurements for all four footprints.

Click video to play

Maximum Score Points: 1
Content Domain: Life Science
Topic Area: Characteristics and Life Processes of Organisms
Cognitive Domain: Applying
Science Practice: Generating Evidence


Exhibit 18 presents for each country the percentage of students making all four measurements correctly, overall and separately for boys and girls. This item was well suited to the students’ abilities, with 59 percent on average internationally completing the task for all four footprints, and another 11 percent percent completing three of the four. Performance ranged from 81 percent correct in Chinese Taipei to 29 percent in Qatar. There was no difference overall in the performance of boys and girls. Although this item required the students to manipulate the ruler tool to make the measurements of footprint length, it did not require any science content knowledge, which may have contributed to the reduced gender difference compared to earlier items.