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Relationship between Science Teaching Practices and Students’ Achievement in Singapore, Chinese Taipei, and the US: An Analysis Using TIMSS 2011 Data

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The assumption that inquiry-based instruction is more effective in influencing student science achievement than traditional didactic teaching has been the driving force of science education reform in recent decades and in many countries. However, the empirical relationship between these two kinds of science teaching and student science performance is not soundly established, which is worth a careful examination. Framed through the theoretical perspectives of inquiry-based instruction and culturally relevant pedagogy, using a two-level hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) approach and simultaneous multiple regression, this study examines the above relationship using the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 8th grade dataset from Singapore, Chinese Taipei, and the US. The study found that for the low-performing students, none of the inquiry-based teaching practice items measured had a significant relationship with the science achievements at any performance levels of students in any country/region except for the case of two inquiry-based teaching practice items that were positively related to Chinese Taipei students’ achievements. No didactic teaching practice items were associated with the Singapore students’ science achievement, three of these practice items were found negatively related to Chinese Taipei students’ science achievement, and one traditional didactic teaching practice was negatively related to the science achievement of U.S. students. However, for medium- and high-performing students, none of these inquiry-based or traditional didactic science-teaching practices were found to be positive predictors of science performance in all three countries/regions. However, in the case of Chinese Taipei, one didactic teaching practice item was negatively related with the medium level performing students’ achievement and two didactic teaching practices were found to hinder high-performing students’ science achievements.


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