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PISA, TIMSS and Finnish mathematics teaching: an enigma in search of an explanation
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
2014 (English)In: Educational Studies in Mathematics, ISSN 0013-1954, E-ISSN 1573-0816, Vol. 87, no 1, 7-26 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Finnish students’ success on all three content domains of each of the four cycles ofthe OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has created muchinternational interest. It has also prompted Finnish academics to offer systemic explanationstypically linked to the structural qualities of Finnish schooling and teacher education. Lesswell-known has been the modest mathematics performance of Finnish grade 8 students on thetwo Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in which Finland hasparticipated, which, when compared with its PISA successes, has created something of anenigma. In this paper, we attempt to shed light on this enigma through analyses of Finnishmathematics classroom practice that draw on two extant data sets—interviews with Finnishteacher educators and video-recordings of sequences of lessons taught on standard topics. Dueto the international interest in Finnish PISA success, the analyses focus primarily on theresonance between classroom practice and the mathematical literacy component of the PISAassessment framework. The analyses indicate that Finnish mathematics didactics are morelikely to explain the modest TIMSS achievements than PISA successes and allude to severalfactors thought to be unique to the Finns, which, unrelated to mathematics teaching practices,may be contributory to the repeated Finnish PISA successes. Some implications for policyborrowingare discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 87, no 1, 7-26 p.
Keyword [en]
Finland, Mathematics didactics, Mathematics teaching, Teacher educator conceptions, PISA, Classroom norms, TIMSS
National Category
Other Mathematics
Research subject
Mathematics Education
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-105748DOI: 10.1007/s10649-014-9545-3ISI: 000339826900002OAI: diva2:731284
Available from: 2014-07-01 Created: 2014-07-01 Last updated: 2015-01-06

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Andrews, PaulSayers, Judy
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