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Students cite low interest, confidence in math, science

Posted December. 12, 2012 07:34,   


Korean elementary and middle school students are among the world`s top performers in math and science, but their small interest in these subjects demand an improvement in educational methods, according to the most recent report on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.

Released by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, the 2011 results ranked Korea first to third based on subjects. Among 50 countries, fourth graders ranked second with 605 points and first in science with 587 points. Among students in 42 countries, Korean eighth graders ranked No. 1 in math with 613 points and third in science with 560 points. The scores were converted from an average of 500 points and standard deviation of 100 points.

The most recent assessment was conducted on 300,000 elementary and middle school students. In Korea, a combined 4,335 fourth graders and 5,167 eighth graders were studied from 150 schools, respectively.

The Korean students` confidence and interest in math and science, however, remained sharply low than those of other countries. Among those in the fourth grade in Korea, 23 percent said they like math, less than half of the global average of 48 percent, and 39 percent said they liked science, a far cry from the world average of 53 percent.

Just 8 percent of eighth graders in Korea said they liked math (global average 26 percent) and 11 percent said they liked science (global average 35 percent), with both figures for Korea ranking at the bottom of the study.

The perception of confidence in Korea was even lower. Among fourth graders, just 11 percent said they were confident in math (global average 34 percent) and 15 percent in science (global average 43 percent). The corresponding figures for eighth graders was 3 percent for math (global average 14 percent) and 4 percent for science (global average 20 percent), the second lowest after Japan. On the value of math and science, the percentage of Korean fourth graders who said they valued both subjects constituted just a third of the international average.

The Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, which participated in the execution and analysis of the study, said, "A negative attitude toward math and science is notable in countries with high scores and Asian countries," adding, "We are devising educational methods that arouse interest and curiosity, such as storytelling and convergence talent education."