In 2006, for the first time, science is the major focus of the PISA assessment of 15-year-olds. A major innovation in PISA 2006 is that many of the science units contain one or two items designed to assess students' attitudes towards science – in particular, their interest in learning about science and their support for scientific enquiry. A second major innovation is that some of the items assess students' knowledge about science – that is, their knowledge of scientific methodology. This paper presents some field trial results that shed light on what science students want to learn, and how their knowledge about science compares with their knowledge of science (biology, chemistry, physics, earth and space science). The field trial conducted during 2005 in all 58 countries participating in PISA 2006 yielded some interesting preliminary results concerning students' attitudes and knowledge. Of particular interest is that girls outperformed boys on knowledge about science items. This and other field trial findings will be the subject of closer scrutiny when the main study results become available throughout the second half of 2006.
McRae, Barry, "What Science Do Students Want to Learn? What Do Students Know About Science?" (2006).