Academic journal article Asian Social Science

What Did Kuwait Learn from Its Participation in TIMSS Study? an Exploratory Case Study from Senior Supervisors' Perspectives

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

What Did Kuwait Learn from Its Participation in TIMSS Study? an Exploratory Case Study from Senior Supervisors' Perspectives

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The Trends of Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is part of a series of studies by The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). TMISS study is a worldwide research project that takes place every four years. It began in 1995, when fourth and eighth grades were tested (Mullis, Martin, Gonzalez, & Chrostowski, 2004).

Kuwait, like many other countries, joined the TIMSS study based on a recommendation from the World Bank in 1995 (Wiseman, Alromi, & Alshumrani, 2014). The World Bank advised the stakeholders at The Ministry of Education (MOE) to participate, as the reform process took place in the education system of Kuwait (Winokur, 2014; Wiseman, Alromi, & Alshumrani, 2014). There were many reasons to participate: the structure of TIMSS helps in providing data about trends in mathematics and science achievement over time; it assesses the knowledge and skills around the world; and it allows researchers to collect extensive background information about the quantity, quality; and content of teaching (Mullis et al., 2004). It also provides international benchmarks that may assist policy makers in identifying the comparative strengths and weaknesses of their educational system. Therefore, the findings from TIMSS can be used

* to inform education policy about their status compared to other countries;

* to improve teaching and learning in mathematics and science for pupils;

* to develop and improve the educational system's capacity to engage in national strategies for educational monitoring and improvement; and finally,

* as a stimulus factor for more reforming processes to improve education (Mullis et al., 2004).

Based on advice from the World Bank, stakeholders at the MOE wanted to explore the performances of their students in both math and science in TIMSS, but the results were not keen nor enthusiastic. Kuwait participated in the study in 1995, 2007, and 2011. Unfortunately, the scores were below average every time Kuwait participated. Consequently, massive reform calls and plans took place in the MOE with regards to curriculum, assessments, and other development plans (Alqabas Newspaper, 2013; Wiseman, Alromi, & Alshumrani, 2014).

The results of TIMSS were discussed as top topics in the media, in the news, at educational conferences, in schools, and in colleges (Alqabas Newspaper, 2013; Wiseman, Alromi, & Alshumrani, 2014). The aim of this study was to investigate the case of TIMSS from the perspective of supervisors. The reason for selecting supervisors was because of their role at MOE in general and their role in TIMSS specifically. Supervisors in Kuwait look over teachers, schools, curricula and assessments. Yet the supervisors were in charge of and involved in many activities during TIMSS (Alkandari 2006, MOE, 2009; National Report of Kuwait, 2008). They were responsible for writing the report, establishing awareness, and grading the tests. Therefore, instead of focusing on participants such as teachers, parents, and their students, we wanted to know the role of the mediator or the facilitators in TIMSS. Our goal and the outcome from this paper was to investigate, in depth, the reason Kuwait is at the bottom of the list in TIMSS in both math and science.

Thus, our research question was, "Among all of the years of participation in TIMSS, why do students still achieve low scores compared to other countries?" This study explores and investigates the problem from supervisors' perspectives.

2. Literature Review

2.1 The Structure of TIMSS

The structure of TIMSS not only looks into the performance of the students in the test but also investigates the surrounding factors that may affect their performance in the tests (Mullis et al., 2004; Mullis, Martin, Foy, & Arora, 2012). The contextual framework and background questionnaires of TIMSS consider the relationship between student's achievements based on certain factors. …

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