Earth Sciences and PISA

Are the mediated core competencies sufficient?

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Whether primary and secondary school, high school or comprehensive school all school systems prepare their students for the challenges of the knowledge society. But at least since PISA, the question arises whether the skills learned are in fact sufficient to succeed in society. In the third survey round of the international school performance survey in 2006, the sciences were now for the first time in the foreground. The results are eagerly awaited at the end of this year they also affect the geosciences.


"PISA 2006 puts the concept of basic science education very far", explains Dr. med. Silke Rönnebeck from the Leibniz Institute for the Education of Natural Sciences in Kiel. "The focus is on the extent to which young people can apply their acquired knowledge and skills in everyday situations." The survey therefore focused on the identification of three basic competences: to recognize scientific questions, to explain phenomena scientifically and draw conclusions, based on evidence.

Knowledge and motivation required

"These competences must be applied in life situations in which science and technology play a role, " explains Rönnebeck. "They require an understanding of the natural world, based on scientific knowledge as well as knowledge of the natural sciences." PISA's attitude and motivation towards science was addressed in PISA 2006 through questions of interest and appreciation of science research. There were also questions about the willingness to deal responsibly with resources and the environment.

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But where do the geosciences come into play? "Geosciences offer a number of possible contexts for PISA tasks, such as climate change, the extinction of species or natural disasters, " explains Rönnebeck. In the knowledge test, the students also encounter questions about the "system earth", the history of the earth and the solar system. "In these contexts, the remaining aspects of the conceptual framework such as competencies, knowledge and motivation can then be found again."

Excited waiting for results

Initial results on the international comparison of the 58 states that participated in PISA 2006 will be published by the OECD and at the same time by the German PISA consortium in early December 2007. With regard to the geosciences, there are various possible questions at the national level: Are certain aspects of mathematical competence such as stochastics or geometry more important than others to successfully master geoscientific tasks? or: Do young people in regions threatened by environmental disasters show greater interest in geoscientific issues?


PISA - Leibniz Institute of Science Education (IPN)


(Silke Rönnebeck, Leibniz Institute for the Education of Natural Sciences, Kiel, 18.05.2007 - AHE)