Home learning environment key, research shows

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 - Page 5

A research survey conducted by a National Taiwan Normal University professor showed that improving the learning environment at home contributes the most to improving the academic achievements of junior-high school students in remote areas, followed by the teachers’ experience and teacher turnover rates.

National Taiwan Normal University professor of education Hsu Tien-ming (許添明) reported his findings on the educational resources that affect the learning of junior-high school students in remote and non-remote areas to the funder of the research, the National Science Council, on Wednesday.

Hsu said Taiwanese students have scored well in the Programme for International Student Assessment’s (PISA) mathematics literacy tests — ranking No. 1 in 2006 and No. 4 in 2009, but the gap in scores between students in remote and non-remote areas was 2.6 times that in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member countries.

Hsu said the Ministry of Education has allocated more than NT$20 billion (US$670 million) in the past 10 years to improve schools in remote areas, so the share of resources allocated to each student is actually higher in remote areas.

According to his survey of 203 schools in remote areas and 205 schools in non-remote areas, he said when the quality of the home learning environment is improved, such as through providing more and better extracurricular reading material, dictionaries, desks and other resources and facilities, the students’ math scores improve the most, compared with other factors.

He suggested that the remote schools should inform their students’ parents about the importance of improving the learning environment at home, and that the ministry create incentives to keep teachers in remote areas, to improve the teaching quality by reducing teacher turnover rates.