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 3: Mathematics Grade 8

Building & Robots Items

Conclusion and Reflections

Building provides a good example of a class of mathematics PSI tasks requiring students to construct a container, structure, or device that will be used for a specific real-world purpose. It also provides a good example of using visuals to help students “see” the path to an end product.

  • Tasks based on related step-by-step activities may be susceptible to having a sequence of items all with similar content (e.g., right angle triangle). However, mathematics assessments at upper grade levels involving algebra and geometry are particularly sensitive to variations in curriculum across countries. Requiring items based on a variety of content would provide a greater range of opportunities for students with different curricular backgrounds to succeed.
  • The graphical constructed response item requiring students to simulate cutting the building’s walls on the board illustrates the promise of digital assessment to go beyond providing an achievement measure. Across the PSI items, the students often were not comfortable when asked to think or reason (e.g., increasing the radius of the rain barrel), but most were engaged enough with cutting the boards to provide process data that can be analyzed to help advance student learning. The student responses to this item also provided grist for research into automated scoring (Appendix C).
  • The Robots items represent an innovative approach to assessment that was not available in the paper-and-pencil environment. Although these prototypes need further development, the idea can be kept in mind for the future.