Science Benchmarking Report TIMSS 1999–Eighth Grade




CHAPTER 3: Average Achievement in the Science Content Areas

What Are the Gender Differences in Achievement for the Content Areas?

Exhibit 3.5 displays average achievement in science content areas by gender for the Benchmarking entities as well as for the comparison countries. On average across all the TIMSS 1999 countries, boys outperformed girls in earth science, physics, chemistry, and environmental and resource issues. In the United States this gender difference was evident only in earth science. There were no gender differences in any country or Benchmarking participant in scientific inquiry and the nature of science; in life science, only the First in the World Consortium had a significant difference, in favor of boys. Among Benchmarking participants, gender differences were relatively rare, and were found mostly in physics, chemistry, and earth science. In physics, boys significantly outperformed girls in Connecticut, Illinois, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, First in the World, Guilford County, Naperville, and the Southwest Pennsylvania Math and Science Collaborative. In chemistry, boys performed better in Indiana, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Chicago, the Delaware Science Coalition, Guilford County, and the Southwest Pennsylvania Math and Science Collaborative. Boys scored better in earth science in Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, and the Southwest Pennsylvania Math and Science Collaborative. Gender differences favoring boys in environmental and resource issues were found in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Jersey City.

The patterns in the performance of girls and boys found in TIMSS 1999 are consistent with previous IEA science assessments. Girls tended to perform about the same as boys in life science in both TIMSS 1995 and the Second International Science Study (SISS),(1) while boys were markedly stronger in earth science, physics, and chemistry.

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1 Postlethwaite T.N. and Wiley, D.E. (1992), The IEA Study of Science II: Science Achievement in Twenty-Three Countries, New York, NY: Pergamon Press; Beaton, A.E., Martin, M.O., Mullis, I.V.S., Gonzalez, E.J., Smith, T.A., and Kelly, D.L. (1996a), Science Achievement in the Middle School Years: IEA's Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College.

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TIMSS 1999 Benchmarking is a project of the International Study Center
Boston College, Lynch School of Education