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All you need to know about assessing contexts of learning – background of PISA 2015

What are students’ learning requirements? And what educational outcomes can we expect beyond achievement? A new publication summarizes current research findings and presents details regarding how such learning conditions can be assessed based on the example of the 2015 PISA study. Concurrently, validated questionnaire instruments are made available online.

A frequently vocalized criticism about international large-scale assessments of student achievement is that they seem to reduce learning to achievement and performance rankings. However, studies like PISA also inform about diverse aspects of students’ learning conditions and are thus much broader in scope. These conditions for example include children’s socio-economic background or teacher qualifications. The studies moreover provide information about educational outcomes beyond achievement – e.g. the students’ professional aspirations and subject-specific interests. Hence, the studies provide a sound basis for explaining educational trajectories in detail and improving instruction.

The German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF) has now published an edited volume entitled “Assessing Contexts of Learning – An International Perspective“ which provides an overview of the state of research and policy debates involved in the context assessment of international large-scale assessments. Theoretical and methodological foundations are outlined for assessing learning conditions and non-cognitive educational outcomes. The volume also explicates how these theoretical considerations may impact education research, policy, administration and practice. In parallel with the book publication, DIPF released a large amount of prepared questionnaire instruments targeting exactly these aspects. The questionnaire material is freely accessible online, available in many language versions and can be used in other contexts, e.g. for research projects, school evaluations or university coursework. This combination of edited volume and questionnaire material thus supports an international relatedness and comparability of context assessments. “Learning contexts have never before been dealt with in such depth and presented such broad applicability”, said Dr. Susanne Kuger (DIPF), the first editor of the volume.

The team of editors furthermore includes Professor Dr. Eckhard Klieme and Dr. Nina Jude, also DIPF, and Professor Dr. David Kaplan from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the USA. The international group of authors refer to PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) 2015 to illustrate and explain their theoretical considerations. The volume is therefore an important source for background information on the current PISA study and links this knowledge to original questionnaire material. But the authors also make references to and compare with other international large-scale assessments, e.g. TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), ICILS (International Computer- and Information Literacy Study) and TALIS (Teaching and Learning International Survey).

The outline: Four introductory chapters of “Assessing Contexts of Learning” provide a transparent insight into theory building, quality development and quality control of context assessment instruments. The subsequent 15 chapters are organized according to three thematic categories (1. student background, 2. learning outcomes beyond achievement, and 3. learning in schools).Each chapter provides an overview of crucial research and policy debates in the literature for a specific topic of learning contexts. For instance, the authors describe in due detail how to study students’ attitudes and opinions by broadening the view to include different sub-facets (e.g. interest, motivation and aspirations) as well as adjoining facets (e.g. well-being in school and environmental attitudes). Dr. Kuger gives the example of motivation: “We know that motivation greatly impacts on learning and different learning outcomes. But motivation to deal with learning in the future is in itself an important learning outcome; therefore respective insights are highly relevant for school improvement worldwide.”

The questionnaire material that was developed based on these considerations is now accessible online for all learning contexts covered in the volume, via the Database for School Quality maintained by DIPF. A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) links each chapter to the pertinent record. In total, the validated questionnaires are available in 59 languages – in many cases different versions and dialects are supplied. To gain a complex picture of learning contexts from multiple perspectives, the assessment instruments were developed for students, their parents, school principals and teachers.

The book was published by Springer: http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-45357-6
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-45357-6

To access the questionnaire instruments online: https://doi.org/10.7477/150:0:1


Learning contexts: Dr. Susanne Kuger, DIPF, +49 (0)69 24708-246, a3VnZXJAZGlwZi5kZQ==
Philip Stirm, DIPF, +49 (0)69 24708-123, c3Rpcm1AZGlwZi5kZQ==, www.dipf.de

The German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF) delivers empirical educational research, digital infrastructure and targeted knowledge transfer, thus contributing to coping with challenges in education. Knowledge for education is processed and documented by the Leibniz Institute to support science, politics and practice in education – to the benefit of society. Amongst its activities, DIPF has developed and prepared questionnaires that are internationally administered in PISA 2015 and PISA 2018 tapping students’ learning conditions.

last modified May 08, 2017