Non-cognitive characteristics and academic achievement in Southeast Asian countries based on PISA 2009, 2012, and 2015

Non-cognitive characteristics of students in four Southeast Asian countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Viet Nam – were reviewed based on the PISA 2009, 2012, and 2015 data. Overall, students in this region demonstrated similarities with respect to their non-cognitive dispositions such as learning habits, approaches to learning, motivation for school subject matters and self-beliefs about their abilities. The non-cognitive characteristics that were most prevalent in the region included enjoyment and instrumental motivation to learn, which were evidenced by the indices of intrinsicmotivation for mathematics (INTMAT), instrumental motivation for mathematics (INSTMOT), enjoyment in learning of science (JOYSCIE), and instrumental motivation in learning science (INSTSCIE). However, these variables were not strong predictors of student achievement in this region. The review also revealed that the best non-cognitive predictors of student achievement were metacognitive awareness (METASUM and UNDREM) for reading achievement; self-efficacy, self-concept, and anxiety (MATHEFF, SCMAT, and ANXMAT) for mathematics achievement; and environmental awareness and epistemological beliefs (ENVAWARE and EPIST) for science achievement. These variables were also the best predictors, on average, across all PISA participants and economies. However, some region-specific non-cognitive predictors were also noted. These were intrinsic motivation (INTMAT) in Malaysia; perseverance (PERSEV) in Thailand; and mathematics intentions (MATINTFC)in Viet Nam. Overall, the similarities found in the non-cognitive characteristics among Southeast Asian students suggest that (a) regional collaboration in designing the educational strategies may be beneficial and that (b) an implementation of regional questionnaires in future PISA surveys may be useful to gain an in-depth understanding of achievement-related factors in this region.

Published on October 15, 2020