Research Topic

Mind the Gap: To What Extent Do Social, Economic, and Psychological Factors Explain Underperformance in PISA Assessments? Identifying Interventions to Narrow the Gap

About this Research Topic

There is a growing consensus among educational researchers that cognitive skills and social, economic, and psychological factors are important variables that may explain academic performance, and thus the long-term economic growth of developed and developing countries. However, after decades of careful ...

There is a growing consensus among educational researchers that cognitive skills and social, economic, and psychological factors are important variables that may explain academic performance, and thus the long-term economic growth of developed and developing countries. However, after decades of careful analysis of individual-level data on academic performance, the evidence on the association between these factors and school performance remains inconclusive.

Over the past two decades, large-scale international assessments have been on the rise, and the International Student Assessment Program (PISA) is seen by many specialists in the field as strategic in international debates on educational policy. An increasing number of investigations have indicated that: there is a positive relationship between the socioeconomic level of students and their academic performance; the socioeconomic level of the school can be a much stronger predictor than the socioeconomic level of individual students; preschool attendance is related to performance; student beliefs, motivation to learn, and anxiety appear to be strong predictors of achievement; and that differences in achievement between schools are increasing. On the other hand, it has been questioned whether: the family background of students in developing countries explains the difference in their performance; variation in the quality of school resources may be more important than variation in family inputs; and whether culture can play a mediating role in the relationship between family history, cognitive abilities, and student achievement. The PISA tests, without a doubt, are an enormous source of information for families, teachers, and governments. Its periodic application mode, in particular, makes it possible to go from a cross-sectional design to a longitudinal design, which in turn allows links to be drawn between interventions in an educational system and their results years later, both within and between nations. The results of a large number of investigations suggest that studies based on the PISA dataset have led to progress in educational research while pointing to the need for caution in using this research to inform educational policy.

In this Research Topic, we aim to bring together different aspects of the field in order to understand to what extent the differences between individual, family, school, teaching, and institutional characteristics contribute to explaining different levels of academic performance, considering the cultural differences between various countries. Likewise, this topic welcomes studies that report on interventions that have been shown to increase student achievement on the PISA tests over different periods. In this way, it is hoped that the empirical findings presented here will improve educational systems and contribute to the economic and social development of emerging countries. Authors submitting papers to this Research Topic should follow appropriate data management and analysis techniques to account for the complex nature of the PISA data. In particular, authors are advised to use specifically designed software for the analysis of international assessment data (e.g. IEA IDB analyzer) and/or any other software or statistical analysis techniques that would allow them to handle multiple plausible values and account for the multilevel structure of the sample.


Keywords: Academic Performance, Pisa Assessments, Explanatory Factors, Educational Interventions, Cross-Cultural Differences


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Submission Deadlines

17 November 2020 Manuscript
17 December 2020 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

17 November 2020 Manuscript
17 December 2020 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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