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A changing classroom climate?

International surveys track trends in the achievement of students in science, reading and maths but also classroom climate and student behaviour.

Media coverage of the most recent results from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) focused on the fact that Australian students are slipping backwards relative to their peers in other countries in science, reading and maths, but PISA also investigated classroom climate and student behaviour.

Analysis of Australian students’ responses to the PISA school questionnaire investigating classroom climate and student behaviour reveals that the proportion of students who report that other students’ don’t listen to teachers has increased over the six cycles of the PISA surveys since 2000.

According to the analysis, published in ACER’s Snapshots series, the proportion of students reporting noise and disorder in every lesson or most lessons has increased significantly in the same period – from 21 per cent in 2000 to 40 per cent in 2015.

So, has the climate of our classrooms changed over the past 15 years? According to the Snapshots analysis, the answer seems to be ‘definitely maybe’.

While students report that the classroom noise and not listening to teachers is on the rise, they also say their relationships with teachers have improved. Principals’ responses to the PISA school questionnaire indicate that disruption and lack of respect have less impact on student learning today than in the past.

PISA assessed the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in science, reading and mathematics in more than 70 countries and economies.

In Australia, ACER conducts PISA on behalf of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with funding from the Australian, and state and territory governments. â– 

Further information:

Read more about changes in the climate of classrooms in the August 2017 issue of Snapshots.

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