Cand.scient. ida Friestad Pedersen
Title of dissertation:
Insights from TIMSS Advanced on Critical Aspects of the Advanced Mathematics Program in Norwegian Upper Secondary School, Content, Competence, and Motivation.
Concerns have previously been raised regarding recruitment to tertiary studies in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This includes (1) insufficient participation and female underrepresentation in this field, and (2) students entering tertiary studies with an inadequate mathematical background. With this as a backdrop, I aim to offer insights on the mathematical content of courses offered to upper secondary school students opting to specialize in mathematics, on the mathematical competence of these students, and on their motivations for participating in mathematics.
This thesis utilizes data from the large-scale international achievement study TIMSS Advanced, and presents analyses of student responses to assessment items and background questionnaires, as well as descriptions of the mathematical content of the TIMSS Advanced assessment instruments and the Norwegian curricula for the advanced mathematics courses.
Briefly, my analyses reveal that the curriculum documents appear to place the greatest emphasis on applying procedures, while the more advanced cognitive processes (analyzing, evaluating, and creating) seem virtually absent. I also find that there is a moderate agreement between the curriculum and the TIMSS Advanced mathematics tests, indicating that there are differences which should be taken into account in order to draw valid conclusions from this large-scale survey. Turning to student competence, my results show that although the curricular emphasis is on applying procedures and methods, the students tend to perform weakly when items require the use of algebraic procedures and stronger when they are required to formulate mathematical models or use mathematics in applied contexts. Finally, the utility value of mathematics for university admission was an important motivation for choosing mathematics, alongside interest in mathematics as a school subject. These findings may inform the development of teaching approaches, or interventions aimed at encouraging student participation in STEM.
This dissertation is a contribution to the field of mathematics education research, and has been conducted at the Department of Teacher Education and School Research, University of Oslo.