20 SES 14, International Perspectives on Student Engagement: Using Innovative Smartphone Technology in Science Classrooms
This study explores the question “How do the background and instructional choices of a science teacher impact the engagement of their students?” using data from the United States-Finnish collaborative research project, “EAGER”. Similar to the other papers in this symposium, this study is grounded in flow theory, using a bounded definition of engagement that includes when a student is experiencing high levels of challenge, interest, and skill in their activity. The data are a unique blend of in the momentary student data captured from their science classes by using Experience Sampling Methods (ESM), teacher lesson plan data, and teacher background data using the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) (IEA, 2008). This data structure allows for a multi-level analysis embedding students within lessons and lessons within teachers where student engagement is the outcome. The paper addresses current international discussions around the relationship between student engagement and STEM course taking. The most recent cycle of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) from 2012 devotes an entire volume towards student engagement, drive, and self-beliefs. With respect to performance, Finland performs above international averages in Mathematics, Reading, and Science while the United States performs at or close to international averages in all three subjects (OECD, 2013). Understanding the causes of these differences between the countries has implications for science classroom practices in terms of how teacher beliefs about teaching science are accounted for, teacher training with respect to how material is presented, and how student characteristics interact with teacher choices in the science classroom. While the full analysis is still in process, preliminary results that teachers in Finland spend about 40 percent of their time on lecture with the remainder of their time dedicated individual student work. In the United States the percentage of time for individual work is similar to Finland, but the lecture time is only about 10 percent. The other 30 percent of this time is spent on testing, review, and compliance measures. This initial descriptive work suggests that the teachers in the U.S. dedicate a significantly greater portion of their time towards testing their students compared to Finland. How these instructional differences are related to engagement is still under study, but will be completed by the time of the conference in September.
OECD. (2013). PISA 2012 results: Ready to learn: Students’ engagement, drive, and self-beliefs (Volume III). Paris, France: OECD Publishing.
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