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ERIC Number: EJ1074300
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Sep
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 52
ISSN: ISSN-1871-1502
"Why Bother so Incredibly Much?": Student Perspectives on PISA Science Assignments
Serder, Margareta; Jakobsson, Anders
Cultural Studies of Science Education, v10 n3 p833-853 Sep 2015
Large-scale assessment, such as the Programme for International Assessment (PISA), plays an increasingly important role in current educational practice and politics. However, many scholars have questioned the validity and reliability of the tests and the extent to which they actually constitute trustworthy representations of students' knowledge. In the light of such critical voices the present article adopts a sociocultural perspective of human knowledge and action in order to explore the encounters between students and the science test assignments with which their knowledge is tested. Of particular interest in this study are the described "real-life situations" presented as the relevant background in which scientific literacy is assessed in PISA. According to the sociocultural theoretical onset the methodology used to approach the students' meaning making of the image of science as portrayed in the test were collaborative situations in which students work in small groups with units of PISA assignments, enabling a study of student-assignment encounters in action. The data we worked with consists of video-recordings from 71 Swedish 15-year-old students working with three released units from the PISA science test. According to our analysis, the "real-life situations" described in the test emerge as problematic in the students' meaning-making. This is demonstrated for instance by the students' positioning themselves as being different from and opposed to the fictional pictured students who appear in the backstories of the test. This article provides examples of how the scientific and academic language used by the fictional students in the assignments mediates distance and resistance among the students. The fictional students' use of strict scientific language and methods in day-to-day life situations leads them to be perceived as "little scientists" and as elite stereotypes of the scientific culture. We conclude that, by using assignments of this type, measurements of students' knowledge in science run the risk of becoming a measurement of cultural consistency regarding how well students will overcome the hurdles of scientific cultures. We mean that all though understanding the scientific culture is an important goal for science education, there is a problem that the assessment organizations communicate the results as representations of students' knowledge in science. This study adheres to research that advises caution in not over-interpreting the PISA results and stresses that understanding students' "knowledge" about science is much more complex than what is communicated by the international assessment organizations.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Sweden
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Program for International Student Assessment