Centre College’s Ellen Prusinski, assistant professor of education, recently co-authored a policy brief for the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) that was publicly released at the Royal Society in London, generating a number of conversations around the world.
The policy brief utilizes data from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMSS) 2015 and examines the relationship between how safe students feel at school and their academic achievement through the lens of gender.
“Specifically, the brief uses student test scores from around the world to investigate whether there are gender differences in feeling safe at school and academic achievement and how this relationship changes as students age,” Prusinksi said. “Interestingly, in countries across the globe, the relationship between feeling safe at school and academic achievement was stronger for grade eight students than for grade four students and also stronger for girls than for boys.”
By looking specifically at gender, she said the policy brief aimed to further contribute to an understanding of the relationship between school safety and achievement.
At the end of the study, Prusinksi said they found that girls were more likely to report feeling safe than boys. The study concluded that in many countries, for boys and girls, feeling safe in school appeared to be positively related to academic achievement.
Prusinski added that she is thrilled by the amount of conversations the brief has initiated. As someone who focuses on international education and has deep respect for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), she said she’s excited that the brief was shared on the UNESCO HIV and Health Education Clearinghouse website and through their social media accounts, as a resource for research on school safety.
The policy brief has also generated discussions on Twitter, and Prusinski hopes this sparks conversations in the schools as well. She said that improving school safety for all children—regardless of gender—needs to be something that all levels of educational decision-making see as their responsibility.
“Personally, it means a lot to me to have worked on something that is having an impact both inside and outside of traditional academic circles,” she said. “One of the reasons I find education studies such a rewarding field is because it gives me the opportunity to engage with both theoretical and applied work. Additionally, I love that education is a constantly changing, evolving area of study. To be at the forefront of an emerging conversation within the field was a tremendous opportunity for me.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
March 21, 2019