Top of the Class

High Performers in Science in PISA 2006

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The rapidly growing demand for highly skilled workers has led to a global competition for talent. While basic competencies are important for the absorption of new technologies, high-level skills are critical for the creation of new knowledge, technologies and innovation. The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has taken an innovative approach to examining educational excellence, by directly assessing students’ knowledge, skills and attitudes and exploring how these relate to the characteristics of individual students, schools and education systems. Based on PISA survey results, this report examines who the highest performing students are, what the characteristics of the schools they attend are, to what extent they engage in science related activities outside of school, what their motivations and attitudes towards science are, and what their career intentions are.



Experiences, Attitudes and Motivations for Excellence

Having looked at individual and school characteristics of top performers in science, this chapter turns to the analysis of student experiences, attitudes and motivations. It investigates differences among performance groups and identifies what characterises top performers in science. The chapter is divided into four sections: The first describes student experiences with science teaching and learning as they relate to top performance; the second analyses the motivations of top performing students; the third reviews the aspirations of top performers in science for a future career in science; and the fourth and final section analyses a particular group of top performers in science, those relatively unmotivated. 


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