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Highlights From the TIMSS 1999 Video Study of Eighth-Grade Mathematics Teaching

Similarities Across Countries

Differences Across Countries



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The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 1999 Video Study is a follow-up and expansion of the TIMSS 1995 Video Study of mathematics teaching. Larger and more ambitious than the first, the 1999 study investigated eighth-grade science as well as mathematics, expanded the number of countries from three to seven, and included more countries with relatively high achievement on TIMSS assessments in comparison to the United States.

The countries participating in the mathematics portion of the TIMSS 1999 Video Study included Australia, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong SAR,1 Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United States. The TIMSS 1995 and 1999 average mathematics scores for these countries are displayed in table 1. On the TIMSS 1995 mathematics assessment, eighth-graders as a group in Japan and Hong Kong SAR were among the highest achieving students while eighth-grade students in the United States scored, on average, significantly lower than their peers in the other six countries. This report focuses only on the mathematics lessons; the report on science lessons will be released at a later date.

Table 1
Average scores on TIMSS 1995 and TIMSS 1999 mathematics assessments of countries participating in the TIMSS 1999 Video Study participating countries

Table 1 - Average scores on TIMSS 1995 and TIMSS 1999 mathematics assessments of countries participating in the TIMSS 1999 Video Study participating countries

-Not available.
2TIMSS 1999: AU, NL>US; HK, JP> AU, CZ, NL, US.
3Nation did not meet international sampling and/or other guidelines in 1995. See Beaton et al. (1996) for details.
4International average: AU, CZ, HK, JP, NL, US>international average.
NOTE: Rescaled TIMSS1995 mathematics scores are reported here. Due to rescaling of 1995 data, international average not available. Switzerland did not participate in the TIMSS 1999 assessment.
SOURCE: Gonzales, P., Calsyn, C., Jocelyn, L., Mak, K., Kastberg, D., Arafeh, S., Williams, T., and Tsen, W. (2000). Pursuing Excellence: Comparisons of International Eighth-Grade Mathematics and Science Achievement from a U.S. Perspective, 1995 and 1999 (NCES 2001- 028). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

Release of the TIMSS 1995 Video Study results garnered attention from those interested in teaching and learning. In part, this attention was due to both the novel methodology, in which national samples of teachers were videotaped teaching an eighth-grade mathematics lesson in their regular classrooms, and the differences in teaching among the countries. Three countries participated in the 1995 Video Study-Germany, Japan, and the United States-and comparisons of the results suggested that each country had a distinct cultural pattern of teaching mathematics. Discussion of results from the 1995 Video Study can be found in Stigler et al. (1999) and Stigler and Hiebert (1999).

In many ways, the TIMSS 1999 Video Study of eighth-grade mathematics lessons begins where the 1995 study ended. Some findings address lingering questions that could not be answered in the first study or questions that have emerged over time as many audiences have interpreted the results. Other findings address new questions arising from advances in the field and from advances in the research methodology used in the study-the "video survey."

The mathematics portion of the TIMSS 1999 Video Study included 638 eighth-grade lessons collected from all seven participating countries. This includes eighth-grade mathematics lessons collected in Japan in 1995 as part of the earlier study.2 In each country, the lessons were randomly selected to be representative of eighth-grade mathematics lessons overall. In each case, a teacher was videotaped for one complete lesson, and in each country, videotapes were collected across the school year to try to capture the range of topics and activities that can take place throughout an entire school year. Finally, to obtain reliable comparisons among the participating nations, the data were appropriately weighted to account for sampling design. Sampling and participation rate information, as well as other technical notes, are detailed in an appendix to the report Teaching Mathematics in Seven Countries: Results From the TIMSS 1999 Video Study, from which this highlights summary is drawn (Hiebert et al. 2003). For more detailed discussion of the technical aspects of the study, see the technical report (Jacobs et al. forthcoming).

1 For convenience, Hong Kong SAR is referred to as a country. Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China.
2 Japan agreed to collect new data for the science component of the video study. Therefore, the Japanese mathematics lessons collected for the TIMSS 1995 Video Study were reexamined following the revised and expanded coding scheme developed for the 1999 study.

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