What Are the Major Findings From the TIMSS 1999 Video Study of Eighth-Grade Science Teaching?
Each of the countries has a distinct approach to science teaching, although the pattern in the United States is different from the other countries in its use of a variety of teaching approaches rather than one consistent, core instructional approach. The different approaches to eighth-grade science teaching taken in each of the countries provide students with different ways to learn science.
The ways the lessons varied in their instructional organization, science content, and the students’ actions are described below. Following these presentations, a summary of the science teaching pattern for each country is presented.
Differences in Instructional Organization
- Instructional purposes: In each country except the Czech Republic, at least three-quarters of lesson time was devoted to developing new content (table 2). However, when this activity is compared to other lesson purposes, country-specific differences emerge. For example, teachers in Japan allocated more lesson time (93 percent) to developing new content than did teachers in three other countries. Czech science lessons included more time for review (19 percent) and assessment (9 percent) than did lessons in three
other countries. Students in Dutch science lessons spent relatively more time going over homework (12 percent) than did students in three other countries. Czech and Japanese science lessons allocated a smaller average percentage of lesson time for “other” purposes, such as administrative tasks, compared to the other three countries.
- Social organization: Lessons also were organized differently in terms of whole-class and independent work and in terms of the opportunity for students to engage in practical work (hands-on, laboratory) versus seatwork (reading, writing, and discussing) activities.
- Independent practical activities occurred in fewer Czech and Dutch science lessons than in Australian and Japanese science lessons. In the United States, fewer lessons than Australia and more lessons than the Czech Republic provided students with independent practical activities (data not shown).
- A similar pattern emerges when use of instructional time is examined. Australian and Japanese science lessons allocated more time for independent practical activities than Czech and Dutch lessons. Four percent of instructional time was spent on independent practical activities in Czech science lessons, less than in the science lessons of the other countries (figure 2).
- Dutch science lessons allocated more time for independent seatwork activities than Czech and Japanese science lessons (figure 2).
- In contrast with the other four countries, practical activities within Czech science lessons occurred more often as a whole-class activity than an independent activity (figure 2).
Figure 2. Average percentage distribution of science instruction time in eighth-grade science lessons devoted to each combination of social organization type and science activity, by country: 1999
1AUS=Australia; CZE=Czech Republic; JPN=Japan; NLD=Netherlands; and USA=United States.
2Whole-class practical activities: AUS, CZE, JPN>USA.
3Whole-class seatwork activities: CZE>AUS, JPN, NLD, USA; USA>AUS.
4Independent practical activities: AUS, JPN, NLD, USA>CZE; AUS, JPN>NLD.
5Independent seatwork activities: NLD>CZE, JPN; USA>CZE.
NOTE: Detail may not sum to 100 because of rounding and data not presented for "divided class work." Analysis is limited to those portions of lessons focused on science instruction. See table 3.2 and figure 3.2 in the full report (Roth et al. 2006).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Video Study, 1999.