Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 - global competence: results - highlights

The results of the PISA 2018 assessment of Global Competence, showing Scotland’s results and those of other participating states.

Chapter 3: Main messages from the report

In the 2018 survey, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) assessed 15-year-old students' global competence. Global competence is defined as:

A multidimensional capacity that encompasses the ability to examine global and intercultural issues, understand and appreciate different perspectives and viewpoints, interact successfully and respectfully with others, and take action for collective well-being and sustainable development.

Results of the assessment

  • Scotland's average score in the global competence assessment was 534 which was higher than the average of all participating countries of 474.
  • Two countries achieved an average score higher than Scotland, two countries were similar, and 22 countries were lower.
  • Girls outperformed boys in every country taking part in the assessment, with the exception of Scotland where performance was similar.
  • Twelve per cent of students in Scotland were at Level 5, the highest level in the assessment, compared to 4.3% of students across all countries. Only two countries had a higher proportion of students assessed at Level 5.

Attitudes and Dispositions

  • The student questionnaire was used to construct indices to measure different areas of global competence. The OECD average is set at zero; values above zero are above the OECD average (in blue), and values below zero are above the OECD average (in red). Scotland's scores for each index is shown below:
Chart 3.1: Global Competence indices - Scotland compared to OECD average
chart description below

Chart description

Global Competence was measured by nine different indices. Scotland was above the OECD average for three indices, which were attitudes towards immigrants, respect for other cultures, and student awareness of global issues. Scotland was below the OECD average for five indices, which were global mindedness, cognitive adaptability, perspective taking, student interest in other cultures, and self-efficacy. Scotland is similar to the OECD average for awareness of intercultural communication.

  • Compared to the OECD average, students in Scotland had above average scores in their attitudes towards immigrants (0.34), respect for people from other cultures (0.25), and awareness of global issues (0.09). Students in Scotland had lower than average scores in interest in other cultures (-0.16) and self-efficacy (-0.19).
  • Reported attitudes and disposition varied by gender in Scotland. Girls were more likely to have positive attitudes towards immigrants and respect for people from other cultures than boys in Scotland and the OECD average for girls. Boys scored higher than girls in Scotland for self efficacy regarding global issues, while boys and girls had a similar level of awareness of global issues.
  • Reported attitudes and disposition varied by social background in Scotland and internationally. Across almost all indices, with the exception of perspective taking, scores for global competence are higher for students from a more advantaged background. This is particularly the case for student awareness of global issues and self-efficacy.
  • Immigrant students in Scotland had above average scores in all of the indices and had higher scores than non-immigrant students.

Students' awareness of global issues

  • Students in Scotland had a higher awareness of global issues (0.09) than the OECD average.
  • Girls and boys in Scotland reported a similar level of awareness of global issues.
  • The global issues that students in Scotland were most familiar with were causes of poverty (87% of students), equality between men and women (85%), and climate change/global warming (78%).

Understanding and appreciating the perspectives and worldviews of others

  • Students in Scotland had an above average respect for people from other cultures (0.25), including respecting their values and opinions.
  • Students in Scotland were among the 10 countries/economies (out of 66) with the most positive attitudes towards immigrants (0.34).
  • Students in Scotland had a below average interest in learning about other cultures (-0.16), particularly concerning the religions of the world.
  • Girls have a more positive attitude to learning about and respecting other cultures than boys, while boys report greater cognitive adaptability.

Ability to engage in open, appropriate and effective communication across cultures

  • Compared to the OECD average, students in Scotland were more likely to have contact with people from other countries in their famiy or at school, but less likey to have contact in their neighbourhood.
  • Across all countries and economies, including Scotland, girls reported greater awareness of intercultural communication than boys.

Taking action for collective wellbeing and sustainable development

  • A higher proportion of students in Scotland (81.4%) reported thinking of themselves as a citizen of the world than the OECD average (76.2%)
  • Almost two-thirds of students in Scotland (64.2%) reduce the amount of energy that they use at home to protect the environment.
  • Girls, students from advantaged backgrounds, and immigrant students in Scotland reported taking more actions for sustainability and wellbeing.

Education for living in an interconnected world

  • Students in Scotland report fewer learning activities related to global competence in school (4.9) compared to the OECD average (5.4).
  • More than 4 out of 5 students (82.2%) were in a school where teachers felt they could adapt their teaching to the cultural diversity of students.



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