From the Bottom to the Top: Investigating Learning Strategies and PISA Mathematics and Science Outcomes of Students of Differing Abilities in Singapore

Project Number
OER 33/12 SA

Project Duration
January 2013 - August 2014


High-performing education systems invariably focus their attention and efforts on enabling school children not just to acquire knowledge but also to become capable, confident, and enthusiastic lifelong learners. At school, students with a well-developed ability to manage their own learning tend to enjoy good learning outcomes because they are able to choose appropriate learning goals, to use their existing knowledge and skills to direct their learning, and to select learning strategies appropriate to the academic task at hand. Beyond school, children and adults who have developed the ability and motivation to learn on their own initiative are well-placed to become lifelong learners. While the development of these skills and attitudes has not always been an explicit focus of teaching in schools, it is increasingly being explicitly identified as a major goal of schooling and should, therefore, also be regarded as a significant outcome of the learning process. Thus, an overall assessment of the outcomes of schooling needs to consider not only students' knowledge and understanding but also their approaches to learning. This study, therefore, drawing on data from the fourth cycle of Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), seeks to examine student approaches to learning and PISA mathematics and science outcomes among students of differing abilities in Singapore. The relatively large sample sizes in the PISA 2009 survey make it possible to look at the characteristics of various subgroups of the student population in terms of their approaches to learning. Such analyses may help identify the degree to which weaker approaches to learning are concentrated in certain groups, and therefore whether and where remedial help needs to be focused. Thus, the findings of the study can give particular indications to educators about what aspects of approaches to learning are important in different respects. Moreover, results of the study can be used to explore how various aspects of student approaches to learning are related to each other and to student performance in Singapore.

Research Themes
Applied Cognitive Development & Motivational Studies

Funding Source

Related Projects