PISA 2015 Results, published this week, analyses for the first time students’ motivation to perform well in school, their relationships with peers and teachers, their home life, and how they spend their time outside of school. The findings are based on a survey of 540,000 students in 72 participating countries and economies who also completed the main OECD PISA 2015 test on science, mathematics and reading.

Many students are very anxious about school work and tests and the analysis reveals this is not related to the number of school hours or the frequency of tests but with how supportive they feel their teachers and schools to be: on average across OECD countries, 59% of students reported they often worry that taking a test will be difficult, and 66% reported feeling stressed about poor grades. Some 55% of students say they are very anxious for a test even if they are well prepared. In all countries, girls reported greater schoolwork-related anxiety than boys; and anxiety about schoolwork, homework and tests is negatively related to performance.

Happier students tend to report positive relations with their teachers

Teachers play a big role in creating the conditions for students’ well-being at school and governments should not define the role of teachers solely through the number of instruction hours. Students in schools where life satisfaction is above the national average reported a higher level of support from their teacher than students in schools where life satisfaction is below average.

Image by oecd.org

On average across OECD countries, most 15-year-old students are happy with their lives, reporting a level of 7.3 on a scale of life satisfaction that ranges from 0 to 10. But there are large variations across countries: while less than 4% of students in the Netherlands said that they were not satisfied with their life, more than 20% of students in Korea and Turkey were.

Girls and disadvantaged students are less likely than boys and advantaged students to report high levels of life satisfaction. The lower life satisfaction reported by 15-year-old girls in PISA is possibly a reflection of girls’ harsh self-criticism, particularly related to their image of their own bodies at a time when they are undergoing major physical changes.

Image by oecd.org

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