Academic journal article Education

Confidence in Mathematics and Algebra Achievement of Eighth-Grade Students in Japan: Findings from the TIMSS 2011 Assessment

Academic journal article Education

Confidence in Mathematics and Algebra Achievement of Eighth-Grade Students in Japan: Findings from the TIMSS 2011 Assessment

Article excerpt

Recent findings have indicated that students in Japan have generally showed high achievement levels on international mathematics assessments (Kelly, et al., 2013). These results have led to further research studies on mathematics teaching practices and student learning outcomes in Japan. Findings from the PISA 2009 assessment showed that mathematics achievement of tenth-grade students in Japan was significantly associated with their learning strategies and engagement in the learning process (Matsuoka, 2013). In addition, results from the TIMSS 2007 assessment indicated that fourth-grade students in Japan showed higher achievement test scores when they worked problems on their own and explained their answers during class (House, 2009). Further, student interest in mathematics and preference for learning conditions that utilized competition were positively associated with the achievement of students in Japan (Shin, Lee, & Kim, 2009). Finally, the use of software for geometry teaching was positively associated with connections between classroom learning and practical applications for students in Japan (Miyazaki, et al., 2012).

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessments have provided opportunities to examine factors associated with student achievement outcomes. For instance, findings from previous TIMSS assessments have indicated that student beliefs about mathematics were significantly associated with test scores of eighth-grade students (House & Telese, 2013). Similarly, the use of specific instructional practices has been found to be related to student beliefs about mathematics and interest in learning mathematics. Mosvold (2008) used data from the TIMSS 1999 Video Study and reported that real-world examples were used in classrooms in Japan in order to increase student interest in mathematics concepts. In addition, recent findings indicated that the use of independent learning activities and developing explanations for information learned in science lessons were positively related to motivation for learning science for eighth-grade students in Korea (House, 2012a). Further, findings from the TIMSS 2007 study showed significant associations between mathematics self-concept and achievement test scores for students in the United States and Japan (Yoshino, 2012).

There were two purposes for this study. First, this study was designed to examine relationships between confidence in mathematics and algebra achievement test scores for eighth-grade students in Japan. Second, this study was intended to build upon prior research findings regarding relationships between student beliefs and mathematics achievement for students in Japan (House & Telese, 2012). Finally, this study was conducted using data from the most current TIMSS 2011 assessment.


Students included in these analyses were from the TIMSS 2011 Population 2 eighth-grade sample from Japan. There were 4,296 students who completed the survey items regarding confidence in mathematics.

As part of the TIMSS 2011 assessment, a scale was developed to measure student confidence in mathematics. Nine items that measured student beliefs about mathematics were included on the scale: (1) I usually do well in mathematics, (2) Mathematics is more difficult for me than for many of my classmates, (3) Mathematics is not one of my strengths, (4) I learn things quickly in mathematics, (5) Mathematics makes me confused and nervous, (6) I am good at working out difficult mathematics problems, (7) My teacher thinks I can do well in mathematics lessons with difficult materials, (8) My teacher tells me I am good at mathematics, and (9) Mathematics is harder for me than any other subject. For each of these statements, students indicated their level of agreement as: (1) Disagree a lot, (2) Disagree a little, (3) Agree a little, or (4) Agree a lot. Finally, the dependent variable included in this study was the algebra test score on the TIMSS 2011 International Mathematics assessment. …

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