Educational achievement among East Asian schoolchildren 1967–2020: A thematic review of the literature

Autor(es): Boman, Björn

Date: 2022

Pages: 14 p.


The high educational achievement among East Asian nations in ILSAs like TIMSS and PISA is widely known. However, a comprehensive review of the research literature is lacking. The current study reviewed the literature in English between 1967–2020 with the aim to identify underlying explanatory factors and their relative importance with regard to educational achievement among East Asian schoolchildren (Grade 5–10) in Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. N = 99 studies, and seven main themes with 53 corresponding sub-themes for these years were discerned. N = 56 studies emphasized cultural and educational quantity variables as pertinent for achievement among East Asian nations and populations. Cultural and educational quantity sub-themes such as more annual study hours, higher effort, and family expectations dominate as the explanatory variables, often emerging as a cross-national theme among East Asian countries. Another theme of significance are non-cognitive abilities such as math self-concept and math resilience. Other themes include higher-than average cognitive ability levels, although that has partly been contested, as well as curricular themes.

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