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Multilevel Modeling of Factors that Influence Mathematics Achievement in Ghana: A Secondary Analysis of TIMSS 2007 and 2011 Open Access


Other title
Mathematics achievement
Multilevel modeling
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Butakor, Paul K
Supervisor and department
Rogers, Todd W (Educational Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Cui, Ying (Educational Psychology)
Glanfield, Florence (Secondary Education)
Leighton, Jacqueline P (Educational Psychology)
Buck, George (Educational Psychology)
Department of Educational Psychology
Measurement, Evaluation, and Cognition
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The purpose of this study was to examine which student, teacher, and principal variables best explained the performance of the population of Grade 8 students in Ghana. This study was necessitated by the consistent low performance of Ghana’s grade eight students in TIMSS since 2003. Ghana, as a country, ranked second last, second last, and last for the 2003, 2007, and 2011 TIMSS assessments. A probability sample of Grade 8 students in a probability sample of schools participated in the TIMSS 2007 (5,294 students nested within 162 schools) and 2011 (7,323 students nested within 160 schools). The students responded to the mathematics achievement test for which a matrix item and student matrix sampling design was used. The students, teachers, and principals responded to their respective questionnaires. Since the students were selected from classes that were nested within schools, HLM analyses were used to analyze the data. However, only one class was selected from each school in each year. Consequently, 2-level HLM analyses were conducted. Prior to the analyses, the maximum likelihood with expectation maximization (EM) algorithm was employed to replace all the missing values at both the student level and teacher/principal level for both 2007 and 2011,and exploratory factor analyses conducted for clusters of similar items in the three questionnaires to reduce the number of predictor variables. The final numbers of variables were 40 student and 40 teacher/principal variables in 2007, and 15 student and 37 teacher/principal variables in 2011. The final parsimonious HLM model contained 20 student variables and five teacher/principal variables which accounted for 27% of the student variance and 51 % of the teacher/principal variance in 2007; the corresponding numbers for 2011 were nine, seven, 20%, and 54%. The change in the number of variables in the final models for the two years is due to changes made in the questionnaires. These changes precluded comparing the 2007 and 2011 results other than to say the variance explained at the student level and at the teacher/principal level were similar in each year (approximately 20% at the student level and 54% at the teacher/principal level). Taken together, it was concluded that lack of proper preparation of teachers in rural areas, questionable school climate and safety, emphasis on lower rather than higher thinking skills, inconsistent use of homework, failure to engage students in their learning, lack of progress of girls, lack of students’ interest and confidence in mathematics, and students’ lower educational aspiration contributed to Ghana’s low performance on the TIMSS 2007 and 2011 assessments. Implications for practice and recommendations for research are provided.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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