Comparing Adult Mathematical Literacy with PISA students: Results of a pilot study

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In Germany, very little empirical data about the mathematical competence of adults is available. The aim of this study is to test the level of mathematical competence in an adult sample. For this purpose, a mathematics test was constructed using the PISA mathematics framework as a guideline. The test consisted of fourteen public items from the mathematics test in PISA 2000. The study was implemented by carrying out house visits (Germany). The sample was comprised of 64 adults (90 % women, age: 41 years). The test results were scaled in the metric of PISA 2000. Compared with the average German student competencies in PISA 2000, the average competency in the adult sample was on the same level as the fifteen-year-old comprehensive secondary school student (at a German Gymnasium). Further analysis shows that the mathematics competency level in the adult sample is positively connected to the individual vocational education degree.

Original languageEnglish
JournalZentralblatt für Didaktik der Mathematik
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)159-167
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

The data collection was nested in the DFG Project „Die Förderung selbstbestimmter Formen der Lernmotivation in Elternhaus und Schule“ (Wild, 1999; Wild & Remy, 2002), which is part of the framework of the German Research Foundation’s (DFG) special programme „Die Bildungsqualität von Schule: Fachliches und fächerübergreifendes Lernen im mathematisch-naturwissenschaftlichen Unterricht in Abhängigkeit von schulischen und außerschulischen Kontexten“. Within the scope of this longitudinal study, about 250 parents were visited and interviewed in the spring of 2003 for a third time. When the students took part at a mathematics test for a third time, a sub sample (n = 62) of these 250 parents could gained for the mathematic competency test. The test was organised and supervised by the test leaders. There was no time limit to the test. The average time for solving the test was about 20 minutes.