The power and paradoxes of PISA: Should Inquiry-Based Science Education be sacrificed to climb on the rankings?


  • Svein Sjøberg Department of Teacher Education and School Research (ILS), University of Oslo, Norway



PISA, IBSE, Inquiry Based Science Education, Science Education Policy, experiments, globalization


Since publication of the first PISA results in 2001, the PISA scores have become a kind of global “gold standard” for educational quality. Climbing on the international PISA rankings have become a high priority for national educational policies world-wide, also in the Nordic countries. This article first explores why and how the OECD, with PISA as the main instrument, has emerged as the key defining organization for educational quality and policy. Some of the underlying assumptions, ideologies and values are critiqued. Secondly, the article draws attention to PISA findings that are surprising, unexpected and problematic. The most problematic finding for science education is that PISA-scores correlate negatively with nearly all aspects of inquiry-based science teaching (IBSE), the kind of teaching that is recommended by scientists as well as science educators.






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