A new perspective on memorization practices among East Asian students based on PISA 2012

Yi-Jhen Wu, Claus H. Carstensen & Jihyun Lee:

This study examined learning strategy use in mathematics among East Asian students in East Asian educational systems. By employing latent class analysis on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 data, we found four classes of learning strategy types, namely memorization with metacognitive strategies (17.49%), metacognitive strategies with memorization (50.70%), elaboration only (10.33%), and metacognitive strategies with elaboration (16.47%). The results showed that the majority of the students in all seven East Asian educational systems belonged to the ‘metacognitive strategies with memorization’ class, and most students adopted more than one type of learning strategy when learning mathematics. Additionally, students who reported the use of metacognitive strategies along with either memorization or elaboration showed higher mathematics achievement. We conclude that the cognitive processes employed by students of East Asian backgrounds are more complex and nuanced than the previous perception that they relied heavily on memorization.