Data like these reveal important differences that warrant further exploration. For example why are girls less confident than boys about their ability despite performing just as well? Given the emphasis on encouraging more young women to study science, these findings help us see that there is more work to do. The UCL IOE team has been discussing the results with teachers, subject experts and subject associations and we are planning more research to better understand the results of TIMSS19. There is a lot we can learn about teaching, the curriculum and learning, from exploring the TIMSS results in detail.
Looking to the future, what is important at the moment is encouraging schools to engage with this TIMSS cycle so as to understand more about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our schools. We’ll be working closely with our colleagues at Pearson to support them in the delivery of TIMSS 2023 in England and then sharing the results and our analysis with the aim of learning as much as we can. Participation in the study means that not only will schools and pupils be providing valuable data about how the pandemic affected subject-specific teaching and learning, about which we know very little. We hope that TIMSS data will feed into a global international evidence base designed to improve education, raise standards and most importantly, help address attainment gaps both nationally and worldwide. TIMSS 2023 participants remain anonymous so it’s not a high-stakes test in the conventional sense because its purpose is to provide a snapshot of the education system rather than providing information about performance for individual schools or pupils.
We are well aware of the immense challenge that schools in England have faced over the past 18 months as classrooms moved online and teachers, students and parents were compelled to use unfamiliar technologies to continue learning. This experience has not only changed the way that we view teaching and learning, we have also learned a great deal about online assessment. It’s true to say that in the past, the education sector has been somewhat slow to embrace the potential of new technologies for learning and assessing. However, confidence in them has grown and research is uncovering the benefits of sometimes using more online, computer-based assessments – TIMSS is no different. In 2019, schools in England participated in the new tablet-based TIMSS tests and found pupils and teachers alike enjoyed them, so we welcome working online again for TIMSS 2023.
As the TIMSS study for 2023 progresses, we encourage you to join this valuable research if you’re given the opportunity and to help the teams at Pearson and UCL continually improve our knowledge and understanding of mathematics and science learning. The UCL IOE team will be posting regular blogs to explain on-going research, new findings relating to teaching and learning in mathematics and science, and much more. We view participation in TIMSS as a way to enhance our understanding of teaching and learning; being involved in these studies is a way to be a part of the critical conversations about policy, educational reform and learning.