Final Paper for Evidence-Based Discovery

Final Paper for LIS 590 AG – Evidence-Based Discovery (Fall, 2013)

Analyzing the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2011: A Brief Overview


The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is a quadrennial assessment taken internationally. The test is administered to 4th and 8th graders, who are tested on math and science skills. They and their teachers and principals also fill out extensive background questionnaires which help determine the conditions surrounding educational attainment in the countries in question. The most recent cycle of the assessment, given in 2011, was taken by students in students in 63 countries with results from an additional 14 benchmarking regions within participating countries used to calibrate the assessment. In 2011, the 4th and 8th grade surveys resulted in a total of 608,641 student participants, 49,429 teachers, 10,612 school principals, and each country’s National Research Coordinator. Some new countries participated in this cycle, while other previous participants elected not to participate this time.

With such a large number of participants and a series of extensive background questionnaires available, asking such diverse questions such as whether students have access to academic resources at home and whether they feel safe at school, there are a wide range of questions that can potentially be explored.  For this analysis I chose to examine the following questions.

1) Are there clear differences in who is taking the test in each country?

2) Is there an observable relationship between feelings about math and results on the assessment?

3) Are there clear differences in overall math results between countries, both with and without respect for gender?

4) Is there a clear connection between parents’ highest level of educational attainment and students’ scores and feelings towards math?

5) Is there an obvious impact based on economic factors such as government spending on education?