Paper presented at Australian Association of Research in Education Conference

Paper presented at Australian Association of Research in Education Conference

Monday, 23 January 2017

Dr Teo Tang Wee Assistant Professor of Natural Sciences & Science Education Academic Group at NIE presented a paper co-written with Dr Jonathan Goh Wee Pin, Associate Professor of Policy & Leadership Studies Academic Group at NIE at Australian Association of Research in Education Conference held in Melbourne, Australia on 30 November 2016.

Titled “Singaporean Lower Track Students’ Science Inference Skills: A Rasch Analysis”, her presentation based on her OER project “Examining Normal Academic/Technical Students’ Science Learning from a Sociological and Cultural Lens” discussed how Singapore education had attracted much attention around the world as a result of the students’ scholastic performances on mathematics, science, and reading in international benchmark assessment tests such as TIMSS and PISA. These tests also revealed the achievement gaps between the high- and low-achievers. However, there was little research about Singaporean lower-achievers, and a systematic, rigorous, and large-scale study of their process skills was absent. The purpose of this study was to examine the Singaporean lower track students’ ability to make inferences—an important 21st century competency skill—in science.

Analyses showed that items that involved pattern recognition, selecting an answer from a given range of values, application of a given concept, and limited information were easier for the lower track students. While interpreting graphs, tables, diagrams, or charts, or that which required them to extend their thinking beyond the given information are more difficult for the students. They also had difficulty in deducing answers using the elimination technique and items that involved experiments and variables. Further, it was found that although there were no misfitting items, there were “voids” areas in the Wright distribution map where no items corresponded to the students’ ability level.

This study had implications for science education researchers on research design, and also for science teachers on assessment writing and instruction.