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Cory T. Forbes, Knut Neumann & Anja Schiepe-Tiska (2020) Patterns of inquiry-based science instruction and student science achievement in PISA 2015, International Journal of Science Education, 42:5, 783-806, DOI: 10.1080/09500693.2020.1730017


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Scientific literacy is a central aim of science education. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) provides a measure of secondary students’ scientific literacy and reported science instruction in 72 countries. Researchers have analyzed PISA data to identify important relationships between science instruction and students’ science achievement. The purpose of this study is to further explore these relationships by using PISA 2015 data from a sample of 13 participating countries representing a range of mean science achievement. We use Latent Profile Analysis (LPA) to explore how students from highest- and lowest-performing profiles characterize the inquiry-based science instruction they experience. We then use cluster analysis to compare patterns in inquiry-based instruction reported by students in the highest-performing profiles in each country and examine relationships between inquiry-based and other instructional practices. Findings from our analysis reveal fundamental differences in the frequency and nature of inquiry-based instruction reported by students associated with the highest and lowest levels of science achievement. For the highest performing profiles of students, results illustrate both consistencies and unique features of science instruction students report across four distinct clusters of countries. We discuss implications of these results for theory, research, and the design of science learning environments.