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Orbis scholae is an academic journal published by Charles University, Prague. It features articles on school education in the wider socio-cultural context. It aims to contribute to our understanding and the development of school education, and to the reflection of teaching practice and educational policy.

ORBIS SCHOLAE, Vol 12 No 2 (2018), 101–124

Factors Explaining the Interest of Czech Students in Reading and Mathematics

Eva Potužníková

DOI: https://doi.org/10.14712/23363177.2018.295
published online: 25. 01. 2019


The goal of the empirical study is to identify significant predictors of student interest in reading and mathematics using data from international large-scale assessments. According to studies of interest development in educational settings, certain instructional techniques are able to evoke situational interest, whereas personal relevance and active involvement are sources of maintained interest. This study compares the effect of engaging instruction with the effect of student-related characteristics, such as gender, family background, free time preferences and perceived difficulty of the subject. The analyses were performed on PIRLS and TIMSS 2011 data for Grade 4 students from the Czech Republic separately for reading (N = 4556) and mathematics (N = 4578). In addition, data from a national follow-up study in Grade 6 was used to study interest development (N = 2955 for reading, N = 2956 for mathematics). Engaging instruction is positively associated with student interest in Grade 4 in both domains. The percentage of students declaring a positive attitude is close to 80% in both domains. A slight decrease in interest levels between Grades 4 and 6 was identified. While the most powerful predictor of interest in reading in Grade 6 is the former interest level, interest in mathematics is best predicted by perceived difficulty. Implications for instructional practice are also discussed.

keywords: student interest; reading; mathematics; engaging instruction; PIRLS; TIMSS

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