Students whose parents have high expectations for them – who expect them to earn a university degree and work in a professional or managerial capacity later on – tend to have more perseverance, greater intrinsic motivation to learn mathematics, and more confidence in their own ability to solve mathematics problems than students of similar socio-economic status and academic performance, but whose parents hold less ambitious expectations for them.
PISA results show that even
when girls perform as well as boys in mathematics
, they tend to report less
perseverance, less openness to problem solving, less intrinsic and instrumental motivation to learn
mathematics, less self-belief in their ability to learn mathematics and more anxiety about mathematics than
boys, on average; they are also more likely than boys to attribute failure in mathematics to themselves rather
than to external factors.
While four out of five students in OECD countries agree or strongly agree that they feel
happy at school
or that they feel like they belong at school, not all students are equally likely to report a strong sense of
belonging: on average across OECD countries, for example, 78% of disadvantaged but 85% of advantaged
students agree or strongly agree with the statement “I feel like I belong at school”.
Although the vast majority of students reported a strong
sense of belonging
, more than one in three students
in OECD countries reported that they had arrived late for school in the two weeks prior to the PISA test; and
more than one in four students reported that they had skipped a class or a day of school during the same
Lack of punctuality and truancy
are negatively associated with student performance: on average across
OECD countries, arriving late for school is associated with a 27-point lower score in mathematics, while
skipping classes or days of school is associated with a 37-point lower score in mathematics – the equivalent
of almost one full year of formal schooling.
Students who are
open to solving mathematics problems
– who feel that they can handle a lot of information,
are quick to understand things, seek explanations for things, can easily link facts together, and like to solve
complex problems – score 30 points higher in mathematics, on average, than those who are less open to
problem solving. Among high achievers, the difference between the two groups of students is even greater –
an average of 38 score points.
Across most countries and economies, socio-economically
not only score lower
in mathematics, they also reported lower levels of engagement, drive, motivation and self-beliefs. Resilient
students, disadvantaged students who achieve at high levels, break this link; in fact, they share many of the
characteristics of advantaged high-achievers.
are strongly associated with greater student engagement with and at school.
One way that a student’s negative self-belief can manifest itself is in
anxiety towards mathematics
. Some 30%
of students reported that they feel helpless when doing mathematics problems: 25% of boys, 35% of girls,
35% of disadvantaged students, and 24% of advantaged students reported feeling that way.
Students’ Engagement, Drive and Self-Belief
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