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Containers
Technical Quality Information
Contributed by: Third International Math and Science Study (TIMSS)


This task was produced by TIMSS and was administered to students in 1994-1995.

In general, this was a difficult task for fourth graders. Although most students in most countries were able to use a laboratory thermometer, in many cases, the data gathered were incomplete or contained small inaccuracies in measurement. Students did reasonably well in identifying the container that keep water hottest, but almost none could explain insulating capacity in terms of the materials from which the containers were made.

An interesting misconception appeared when students were asked to apply their findings to a different situation - that of keeping ice cream cold. While 15% of students internationally recognized that the container that was best for keeping a hot drink warm would also be best for keeping ice cream cold, almost none could explain why. About one-quarter of the students seemed to see the ice cream as an opposite case, explaining that the container in which the temperature of a hot drink declined most rapidly would be the one to keep ice cream cold the longest.

Unit Name: Containers

Unit Content: Physical Science

Unit Theme: Properties of Materials

Unit Statistics:

Containers Task: Average Percentage Score on Item 1 - Fourth Grade
Country Overall Task Average Average Percentage Score on Item
Item 1
Meaasure Temperatures and Record in Table
Ability to Use Thermometer Quality of Data Gathering
1 point 3 points
Cyprus 42 (1.3) - - 82 (3.8)
Canada 40 (1.1) 94 (2.1) 69 (2.8)
New Zealand 33 (1.4) 95 (1.8) 38 (3.3)
Iran, Islamic Rep. 30 (3.5) 63 (7.6) 49 (5.3)
Portugal 26 (1.9) 78 (5.5) 31 (4.7)
Countries not satisfying guidelines for sample participation rates
Australia 39 (0.8) 93 (2.8) 57 (3.9)
Hong Kong 41 (1.3) 99 (0.6) 58 (2.9)
United States 40 (1.1) 98 (0.7) 64 (3.1)
Countries not meeting age/grade specifications
Slovenia 38 (1.3) 100 (0.0) 54 (4.0)
International Average

37 (0.6) 91 (1.1) 56 (1.3)


Containers Task: Average Percentage Score on Items 2 and 3 - Fourth Grade
Country Overall Task Average Average Percentage Score on Items
Item 2
Identify Best Insulator
Item 3
Explain Best Insulator
2 points 2 points
Cyprus 42 (1.3) 60 (4.5) 6 (1.5)
Canada 40 (1.1) 56 (2.7) 7 (1.1)
New Zealand 33 (1.4) 50 (4.4) 3 (0.8)
Iran, Islamic Rep. 30 (3.5) 39 (5.3) 9 (1.8)
Portugal 26 (1.9) 33 (5.0) 3 (1.3)
Countries not satisfying guidelines for sample participation rates
Australia 39 (0.8) 65 (2.5) 5 (1.4)
Hong Kong 41 (1.3) 56 (3.8) 11 (2.8)
United States 40 (1.1) 32 (3.5) 8 (1.2)
Countries not meeting age/grade specifications
Slovenia 38 (1.3) 45 (3.2) 4 (1.5)
International Average

37 (0.6) 48 (1.3) 6 (0.5)


Containers Task: Average Percentage Score on Items 4 and 5 - Fourth Grade
Country Overall Task Average Average Percentage Score on Items
Item 4
Apply to Ice Cream
Item 5
Explain Application
1 point 2 points
Cyprus 42 (1.3) 4 (1.9) 1 (0.6)
Canada 40 (1.1) 14 (2.4) 3 (0.8)
New Zealand 33 (1.4) 10 (1.9) 1 (0.6)
Iran, Islamic Rep. 30 (3.5) 17 (4.2) 2 (1.4)
Portugal 26 (1.9) 11 (2.3) 2 (1.0)
Countries not satisfying guidelines for sample participation rates
Australia 39 (0.8) 14 (2.7) 3 (0.9)
Hong Kong 41 (1.3) 18 (3.0) 5 (1.2)
United States 40 (1.1) 31 (3.5) 4 (1.0)
Countries not meeting age/grade specifications
Slovenia 38 (1.3) 18 (3.1) 7 (1.5)
International Average

37 (0.6) 15 (1.0) 3 (0.3)

 


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