Lack of ICT in Irish schools beginning to tell in global PISA rankings

1 Apr 2014

The continued failure to blend ICT into lessons in Irish classrooms is beginning to tell in global studies. Irish school kids ranked 17th out of 28 OECD countries and 22nd out of 44 worldwide for computer-based problem solving, according to new PISA results.

It appears Irish students failed to perform as well with problem solving on a computer test as they had in a written test of their maths and literacy skills because the students weren’t as familiar with working on computers as their international counterparts.

The results, brought to light by the Education Research Centre (ERC), came from the most recent PISA study of 15-year-olds in 65 countries.

In that study, Ireland showed the most improvement in science, moving up five places to ninth position amongst 34 OECD countries, according to the latest OECD PISA study. Ireland ranked 13th in maths, up from 26th place in 2009, and fourth in reading, up from 17th place in 2009.

However, in addition to the maths, science and scientific literacy study carried out every three years, 44 countries, including Ireland, also took part in a less publicised 40-minute computer-based assessment of problem solving.

The results are considered a barometer of students’ skill in tackling real-life problems.

Paper or glass, you choose

According to the ERC, Irish students performed less well than expected on computer assessment of problem solving as they did in written assessment of maths, science and literacy.

It suggested the problem may be because the questions/tasks were delivered on a computer.

The ERC believes students in Ireland were at a disadvantage to students from other countries due to less familiarity with using computers at home or in school for school–related tasks.

Students in Ireland reported using IT in school in general in maths lessons and at home for school-related tasks, often less than the than the average across OECD countries.

While the average performance of students for computer-based problem-solving (498) was not statistically significantly different from the OECD average (500), around 20pc of students perform below Level 2, the baseline level of proficiency in PISA, similar to the OECD average 21pc.

About 9pc of students in Ireland perform at the highest levels of proficiency in PISA (Levels 5 and 6), just slightly below the corresponding OECD average (11pc).

Male and female students do not differ significantly in their problem-solving performance (500 for boys and 496 for girls).

Both male and female students in Ireland have similar average scores to the corresponding OECD average of 503 for boys and 497 for girls.

The study found students in Ireland are as likely as students across OECD countries to be successful on knowledge acquisition tasks (exploring and understanding) but less likely to be successful on knowledge utilisation tasks (planning and executing tasks) compared to the OECD average.

However, they are significantly more likely to be successful on tasks involving monitoring and reflecting.

Perhaps education strategists can reflect on possibly coming up with a progressive ICT strategy for Irish schools.

Coding kid image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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