Exploring differential science performance in Korea and South Africa: A multilevel analysis


  • Mee-Ok Cho University of Pretoria
  • Vanessa Scherman University of Pretoria
  • Estelle Gaigher University of Pretoria




science education, school effectiveness, South Africa, Korea, multilevel analysis, TIMSS


This paper reports on secondary analysis of TIMSS 2003 data with the aim of explaining the difference in science achievement of Korean and South African learners. The question asked by this research, i.e. which factors at various educational levels influence science achievement in Korea and South Africa respectively, is addressed from the perspective of school effectiveness. Data from Korea included 5 300 learners from 151 schools, while approximately 9 000 learners from 265 schools were tested in South Africa. The background data were analysed in conjunction with the achievement data by means of factor, reliability, correlation and multilevel analysis. The multilevel analysis revealed that the strongest predictor of science achievement is attitudes towards science in both countries at learner level while, at classroom/school level, the strongest predictors are learner background in Korea and safety in school in South Africa respectively. In addition, factors specifically significant in Korea included educational resources, out-of-school activities, high expectation, professional development, and school size, while South Africa showed factors such as ethnicity and SES-related factors, textbook use, teacher age, teacher qualification, STS-based teaching, physical resources, and class size.


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How to Cite

Cho, M.-O., Scherman, V., & Gaigher, E. (2014). Exploring differential science performance in Korea and South Africa: A multilevel analysis. Perspectives in Education, 32(4), 21–39. https://doi.org/10.38140/pie.v32i4.1882



Research articles