• PISA Scientific Literacy Assessment;
  • education policy;
  • motivation;
  • communication;
  • science activities


Finnish students' opinions about the frequency of learning activities and communication in the Finnish science classroom, their interest in science and science studies and careers, their sense of self-efficacy, and their beliefs about their own competence as well as their performance in science are analyzed based on PISA 2006 Scientific Literacy Assessment data. Students' success on PISA is explained by these context variables and by the national education policy in Finland. The regression analysis revealed that positive student level predictors for PISA science performance were science-related self-efficacy and self-concept, interest in physics and chemistry, and a view of the usefulness of science studies in preparing students for future jobs in science. From the point of view of science teaching, one of the most robust predictors of the high results in Finland were frequent use of teacher demonstrations, practical work in the classroom, and the possibility for students to draw conclusions. Knowledge based society, educational equality, and devolution of decision power at the local level, and teacher education are named as most important educational policy issues behind students' high performance in PISA 2006 science. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 46: 922–944, 2009