Students take fourth in computer test

Updated: 2014-04-03 07:33

By Wang Hongyi in Shanghai (China Daily)

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While 15-year-old Shanghai students are adept at solving problems with the help of computers, their skills don't measure up to their extraordinary abilities in math, reading and science.

Shanghai students tied for fourth place in a new computer-based test on their problem-solving abilities under the Program for International Student Assessment. The results were released by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday.

The triennial program aims to rate the performance of 15-year-old students in the OECD and other countries through a range of tests in math, English and science.

A computer-based problem-solving test was added into the test option list in 2012. Lu Jing, secretary-general of the Shanghai PISA Project, said the computer-based test aims to find out how proficiently a student uses technology to solve problems in an examination context.

About 85,000 students, including 2,372 from Shanghai, took the 40-minute exam. They were selected from 510,000 students from 65 countries and areas who had taken the PISA paper-based test in April 2012.

Shanghai students tied with their peers from Macao and Hong Kong for fourth place in the exam. Students from Singapore and South Korea tied for first place, with Japan in third.

In 2009 and 2012, Shanghai students ranked first in the paper-based PISA tests.

"Compared with their competence in math, reading and science, Shanghai students' computer problem-solving performance isn't as good," said Zhang Minxuan, program manager for Shanghai PISA.

But even so, Zhang said he believes the results were "unexpectedly good" considering the gap between Shanghai and Western countries in terms of the ability to use technology in studies.

Test results showed that 89.4 percent of Shanghai students reached a score of "Grade 2" or above, which means that they met the requirements of dealing with their future work and social lives.

Of those who reached Grade 2 or above, 18.3 percent reached Grades 5 or 6, the highest level.

"This has too much to do with computer use in schools and at home," Zhang said. "Students should be encouraged to have more chances to work with technology in the future."

In recent years, Shanghai education authorities have promoted technology development and computer use for students. Tablets have been introduced into classrooms, which is believed to have helped improve computer proficiency.

"The result indicated that Shanghai students are better at solving static problems than interactive ones. In this regard, more open, practice-oriented and research-based study should be given to them," Zhang said.

(China Daily 04/03/2014 page7)