09 SES 01 C, Assessments in Secondary Education: Gender Differences in Competencies and Attitudes
Parallel Paper Session
Since the 1990s, there has been a growing interest in assessing not just curricular achievement but the more general cognitive and affective goals of education. The most well known endeavour is the triennial OECD PISA study, but also the European Union project for defining key competencies for lifelong learning – including learning to learn, the framework of the present study, and the 21st century skills assessment project are expanding the notion of what is seen as salient outcomes of education. Common to all these projects at the level of assessment is their mixing of cognitive tasks and self-report questionnaires pertaining to diverse factors believed to indicate readiness for new learning and successful adaptation to the rapidly changing demands of the future.
The present study is part of a longstanding Finnish research project on the formation and fostering of learning to learn, one of the eight EU key competences, as part of educational effectiveness (Hautamäki et. al, 2002; 2006; 2010; see also Hoskins & Fredriksson, 2006; Kupiainen et al., 2008). In the Finnish framework, learning to learn refers to “the diverse cognitive and affective factors that are central to the application of existing skills to novel tasks and to new learning” (Hautamäki et al., 2002, p. 5). Accordingly, the instrument developed for its measuring comprises both cognitive tasks related to but sufficiently removed from curricular content and self-report questionnaire scales pertaining to diverse affective factors allegedly contributing to (new) learning. Both, it is claimed, can (and should) be fostered at school by the means of good teaching.
The aim of the study is to look more closely at the role of and the internal relationships between factors relevant for school achievement on the one hand, and for students’ performance in the low stakes learning to learn assessment, on the other. Special attention will be paid on gender differences in these and on the role of context-specific factors (listening in class, homework, effort, task interest) on the achievement of students of different attainment level.
The cognitive tasks in the test fall into three main domains (reasoning skills, reading comprehension and mathematical thinking) while the affective scales cover dimensions relevant for learning and school achievement (e.g., achievement goals, agency beliefs, self-regulation, learning strategies, means-ends-beliefs, self-efficacy, academic self-concept). All have been used in several earlier large-scale cross-sectional studies with norm data from nationally representative samples. The test also comprised scales regarding homework and listening in class. Additionally, all cognitive tasks were followed by three questions inquiring students’ views of the difficulty and interest of the task as well as their perceived success in it, while the test booklet ended with questions regarding students effort in the test as a whole and whether they had tried harder had the test been high stakes – a question adapted from PISA. Data regarding students’ socio-economic background and school achievement was collected concurrently with the test.
Hautamäki J., Arinen P., Eronen S., Hautamäki A., Kupiainen S., Lindblom B., Niemivirta M., Pakaslahti L., Rantanen P. & Scheinin P. (2002). Assessing Learning-to-Learn. A Framework. National Board of Education, Evaluation 4/2002 Hautamäki A., Hautamäki J. & Kupiainen S. (2010). Assessment in Schools – Learning to Learn. International Encyclopedia of Education (2010), vol. 3, pp. 268. Hautamäki J., Kupiainen S., Arinen P., Hautamäki A., Niemivirta M., Rantanen P. & Scheinin P. (2006). Learning-to-learn assessment in Finland – versatile tools to monitor and improve effectiveness and equity of the education system. In Jakku-Sihvonen R. & Niemi H. (eds.) Research-based teacher education in Finland – reflections by Finnish teacher educators. Kasvatusalan tutkimuksia 25/2006, s. 189–202. Hoskins, B. & Fredriksson, U. (2008). Learning to learn: What is it and can it be measured? JRC Scientific and Technical reports. EUR 23432 EN 2008. Kupiainen, S., Marjanen, J., Vainikainen, M-P. & Hautamäki, J. (2011a) Oppimaan oppiminen Vantaan peruskouluissa. Kolmas-, kuudes- ja yhdeksäsluokkalaiset oppijoina keväällä 2010. [Learning to learn in Vantaa basic schools. Third, sixth and ninth graders as learners in spring 2010] Vantaan kaupungin sivistysvirasto ja Helsingin yliopiston Koulutuksen arviointikeskus. [Vantaa City Department of Education and the University of Helsinki centre for Educational Assessment]. http://www.vantaa.fi/instancedata/prime_product_julkaisu/vantaa/embeds/vantaawwwstructure/62699_Perustopetus_Oppimaan_oppimisen_raportti_2011.pdf Kupiainen, S., Marjanen, J., Vainikainen, M-P. & Hautamäki, J. (2011b). Relations between Finnish students’ cognitive abilities, learning-related attitudes, and GPA at grades 3, 6 and 9. Paper presented at EARLI 2011, Exeter, England. Manuscript to be submitted in spring 2012.Kupiainen, S., Hautamäki, J. & Rantanen, P. (2008). EU Pre-Pilot on Learning to Learn. Report on the compiled data. 2008-1190/001-001 TRA-TRINDC. Loaded 1.2.2012 at http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-policy/doc/pilot_survey/report_en.pdf
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