How do socioeconomically disadvantaged students overcome the 'odds' to succeed in science? – Evidence from PISA 2015

Studies carried out in numerous national contexts suggest that students from socio-economically impoverished backgrounds are associated with academic underachievement (Filmer & Pritchett, 1999). Some underprivileged students, however, manage to perform outstanding educational outcomes despite their adverse backgrounds. The dynamic process in which these students negotiate, adapt to, and cope with their circumstances is often referred to as ‘academic resilience’ (Wang et al., 1994). This phenomenon is relevant to studying educational inequalities in science, especially focusing on groups of socioeconomically disadvantaged students. Our study aims to understand the prevalence of academically resilient students in science in Vietnam and Sweden and to what extent student motivational characteristics and their perceptions of school science vary between resilient and non-resilient students in two countries. Using the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) cycle 2015 of Vietnam and Sweden, the shares of resilient and non-resilient students were identified by using aggregated economic-social-cultural status (ESCS) and science achievement measures. Our preliminary findings show that the share of resilient students in science in Sweden is lower compared to Vietnam. We also find that in both countries, there are significant differences between resilient and non-resilient students regarding their motivational characteristics (enjoyment of science, science self-efficacy) and perception of school science (perceived teacher support, sense of school belonging, teacher-directed instruction). Resilient students in Vietnam perceived higher levels of inquiry-based science teaching and learning compared to non-resilient students and there are no significant differences between the two groups regarding teachers’ feedback and disciplinary climate. Whereas in Sweden, resilient students perceive lower levels of teacher feedback and a stricter disciplinary climate, and there are no significant differences between groups in inquiry-based science teaching and learning.