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

NCES 2006-017
April 2006

Who Participated in the Study and How Were Lessons Selected?

The TIMSS student assessments of mathematics and science were conducted in 1994-95, in 1998-99, and again in 2003. The countries participating in the science portion of the TIMSS 1999 Video Study included Australia, the Czech Republic, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States. The countries were selected based on their performance in mathematics in 1995. At that time, the other four countries outperformed the United States (on average) in science as well as in mathematics. In 2003, U.S. studentsí average score in science was not measurably different from the average score in Australia and the Netherlands, but remained significantly below the average score of Japanese students. The Czech Republic did not participate in TIMSS 2003. The TIMSS 1995, 1999, and 2003 average science scores for these countries are displayed in table 1.1

View Table View Table 1. Average science scale scores of eighth-grade students, by country: 1995, 1999, and 2003

The science portion of the TIMSS 1999 Video Study included 439 eighth-grade science lessons collected from the five participating countries. In each country, the lessons were randomly selected to be representative of eighth-grade science lessons overall. Each country was required to sample 100 schools. The response rates of the final sample of schools participating in the study ranged from 81 percent (weighted) in the Netherlands and the United States, to 100 percent in the Czech Republic. 2 From the schools that agreed to participate, one eighth-grade science class was randomly chosen from a list of all science courses in the school in which eighth-graders were enrolled. The randomly selected science class was videotaped for one complete period or lesson. No substitutions of schools or science classes were permitted. 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. In addition, teachers and students were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding the videotaped lesson.

1Rescaled TIMSS 1995 science scores are reported here (Gonzales et al. 2000). The average for Australia in 2003 cannot be compared to the averages in 1995 and 1999 due to national level changes in the starting age/date for school. The 1995 and 1999 averages are those reported in Gonzales et al. 2000. The 2003 average is the one reported in Gonzales et al. 2004. Since the TIMSS 1999 Video Study sample selection of countries is based on the 1995 averages, and the target population for Australia in both 1995 and in 1999 was a mix of eighth and ninth grades, table 1 presents the averages for that population.

2Twelve of the lessons selected from the initial sample of 100 schools in the Czech Republic included only economic and political geography content and were excluded from the sample of eligible science lessons. See table A.1 in appendix A of the full report by Roth et al. (2006).