Comparing international and national science assessment: what we learn about the use of visual representations



Within the research community in science education, there has been a tendency to show limited interest in examining PISA results with reference to the national context of participating countries although this approach can give valuable insight into a country’s students’ achievement. Since the interpretations of PISA results could be based on a thorough analysis of the actual items used in international and national contexts, the main issue addressed in this study is to compare PISA test items with assessment tasks used in the Greek school context. 281 PISA science test items as well as 947 assessment tasks included in science school textbooks and 4,248 science examination test items in Greece, were analysed in regard to the frequency of inclusion, the type and the functional role of visual representations within this assessment tasks. The results demonstrate that while PISA test items use visual material in order to communicate scientific information in everyday life contexts by means of specialised graphs and photographs of familiar entities, schooling does not familiarize Greek students with visual representations widely used in science and embedded in real-life situations.


PISA, Science, test items, school-based examinations, textbooks, visual representations, functional role, type

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Educational Journal of the University of Patras UNESCO Chair | ISSN: 2241-9152 | Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education University of Patras

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