Showing posts from October, 2014

How can education systems embrace innovation?

by Dirk Van Damme
Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress division, Directorate for Education and Skills

Innovation in education is a highly contentious issue. Talking to education ministers one quickly gets the impression that education systems in general are very reluctant to innovate, and that there is strong resistance to change among teachers. But teachers would give you the opposite idea, by telling you that there are too many changes imposed on them without much consultation and without ensuring the necessary preconditions for a successful implementation of change. In some countries, innovative change has been implemented without either the care and diligence needed or the appropriate prior testing, experimentation and evaluation. In its recent publication, Measuring Innovation in Education, the Innovation Strategy project of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) provides evidence that suggests that there are a lot of changes happening at various levels…

Doctorate degree holders take research skills outside academia

by Dirk Van Damme
Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress division, Directorate for Education and Skills

The doctorate degree, or PhD, is the highest qualification included in the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED, level 8 in the ISCED 2011). It is also  unique because it bridges education with scientific research and innovation. Although the number of professional doctorates is increasing, in most cases they are qualifications acquired after several years of research leading to an original contribution to the scientific evidence base. The qualification rewards deep knowledge of  a specific field of research and mastery of research methodologies. It acknowledges the doctorate holder as a member of the scientific community and grants access to academia.

In recent years the doctorate degree has been the focus of policy initiatives, both from the higher education policy field and the policy field of science and research. Many countries have tried to radically…

Maths education for innovative societies

by Stéphan Vincent-Lancrin
Senior Analyst and Project Leader, Directorate for Education and Skills

Mathematics is at the core of science, engineering and technology. Mathematic modelling of various phenomena underpins technology innovation. No wonder that mathematics education has always ranked high on the innovation policy agenda.

There is now ample evidence that preparing students for an innovative society goes well beyond preparing them for science-related professions. Given that a large share of professionals contributes in some way to innovation, the new educational imperative is to equip a critical mass of workers and citizens with the skills to thrive in innovative societies.

How can education systems meet this demand through mathematics education? First, they should improve students’ technical skills in mathematics. By technical skills, I mean the know-what (for example, the theorems) and the know-how (for example, the procedures to solve different types of problems). The 2012 …

Combatting bullying in schools

by Tracey Burns and Andrew Macintyre
Directorate for Education and Skills

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me". So goes the English nursery rhyme taught to children to console them if they have been called names, or teased by their friends or classmates. But no matter how often you repeat it as a child, it doesn’t really make you feel better. Why? Because it’s not true.

Being called names does hurt. A lot. So does being picked on, being pushed around, being excluded from groups – in short, being bullied. Bullying is not new – Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, wrote about it in 1847 and Tom Brown’s School Days (1857) brought the issue widespread attention. It has been the subject of countless  teenage coming of age books. And it regularly makes national headlines with stories of teens being pushed into desperate situations, even suicide, as a result of relentless bullying.

While bullying has been around for a long time, it has recently taken on…

Spread the wealth, reap the benefits

by Marilyn Achiron, 
Editor, Directorate for Education and Skills

Quick: Who has more up-to-date textbooks: students in wealthier schools or students in poorer schools? Actually, it depends where you live. As this month’s PISA in Focus explains, not only are some countries better than others in allocating their educational resources more equitably across schools, but students in these countries generally perform better in mathematics.

PISA 2012 asked school principals to report whether teacher shortages, or shortages or inadequacy of physical infrastructure or instructional materials, like textbooks, hindered their school’s ability to provide instruction. PISA found that while disadvantaged schools benefit from investments in smaller classes, they are also more likely to suffer from teacher shortages and inadequate instructional materials than advantaged schools. In general, schools with more socio-economically disadvantaged students tend to have less adequate resources than schools wit…

Infinite Connections: The Digital Divide

by Tracey Burns
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills
Roxanne Kovacs 
 MSc in International Development at Sciences Po, Paris

In 1973, Martin Cooper, a researcher at Motorola, made the first call from a handheld mobile phone prototype. This phone weighed 1.1 kg, took 10 hours to re-charge and was limited to 30 minutes of talking time. When it was commercialized in 1983, the phone cost approximately 7,000 USD.

Today, only 30 years later, mobile phones are not just smaller and more affordable, they are also much more powerful. Smartphones now function as small computers and allow us to do everything from shopping online to programming complex applications.

Increasingly affordable, adaptable and powerful ICTs have influenced all aspects of our lives. As OECD societies continue to become more knowledge-intensive, the importance of digital skills continues to grow. And yet, not everyone in OECD countries has the digital skills they need to succeed in our modern world. A recently rele…

Delivering feedback for better teaching

by Katarzyna Kubacka
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

October 5 marks the 20th anniversary of UNESCO’s World Teachers' Day, a day devoted to “appreciating, assessing and improving educators of the world”. This gives us a great opportunity to reflect again on how schools can celebrate and develop great teaching. One way to do that is through critical exchanges – building constructive feedback systems within the schools.

The OECD Teaching and Learning Survey (TALIS) asks teachers about the feedback they receive within their schools. The TALIS definition of feedback includes formal and informal communication, resulting from some form of observation of teachers’ work. For example, feedback can be provided by comments from the principal, at the end of the school year, in regards to teacher’s work, or in the form of an exchange between teachers who jointly taught a class or observed each other’s classes.

The different ways in which feedback can affect teachers’ professional e…