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Research Paper (postgraduate), 2017
Objective of the Study:
Multiple intelligence and teaching strategies
Analysis of base line data
Teaching Learning Material (TLM)
Overall classroom interaction
Students’ expectation in science class
Comparison of base line data with Post-line data
Teaching Learning Material (TLM)
Overall classroom interaction
Quality science education amongst the youth has become crucial to survive in ever challenging 21st century world. Stakeholders at different levels are concerned that science education in Bhutan is not up to expected level. Science teachers of School X also experienced students’ poor performance. Predominance of teacher centered mode of instruction (traditional method) is one factor that hindered science learning. Various literatures have cited the inherent potential of Multiple Intelligence (MI) teaching strategies to promote science learning, and provide students the learning platform depending upon their well-developed intelligence. This study was intended to promote science learning amongst the grade VIII students of School X through MI teaching strategies. 37 students were randomly sampled for the study and 11 students were selected from the sample population for the in-depth interview. The data were collected twice (baseline data before intervention with MI strategies, and post-line after the MI intervention strategies). Science teachers intervened with teaching strategies based on eight intelligences for the period of two months addressing the learning barriers identified from base line data. The base line and post line data were analyzed and compared. The study revealed that MI teaching strategies upscale the science learning and understanding amongst the students. It indicated that incorporating MI teaching strategies improve science learning in students by fostering variety of teaching-learning activities; promoting different types of teaching learning material and encouraging students to actively participate in learning activities in the class.
Key words:Science, Multiple Intelligence (MI), Teaching strategies, Student learning
Quality science education is of utmost importance for the survival of youth of 21st century for which effective science education in school is essential to face the challenges and develop scientific skills that are critical for the existence in Bhutan and elsewhere in the world (Anderman, Sinatra & Gray, 2012). Whilst there is issue of Bhutanese education system not being able to produce students with quality science education (Royal Education Council (REC), 2008), science teachers of School X have also experienced students not performing well in science subject especially by the lower secondary students. During last two and half years of science teaching in School X, teachers have faced with challenges of not being able to engage students actively in learning activities which ultimately resulted to low academic performance in Science. Besides, not much of the students showed keen interest due to persistent notion of science being difficult subject.
No studies have been done in context to Bhutan till date as to explore the teaching strategies that foster better science learning by the students. Having such empirical studies in place would be of much benefit to educationists and policy makers to work collaboratively towards upholding students’ performance. This action research was intended to promote science learning by exploring and incorporating MI teaching strategies and examining its impact on science learning amongst the lower secondary students.
Reconnaissance is one of the essential components of the action research. Kemmis and McTaggart (1988) used ‘reconnaissance’ in a research context to portray the pre-beginning stage of an action research. It involves the critical analysis of situation at which the action research is conducted; the review of related literature and personal competence of researchers. This section of the paper will uncover situational analysis and literature review.
Science was introduced in Bhutanese education system as compulsory subject starting from primary till secondary education level. Research team has experienced students being poor in science and apparently achieving below the minimum academic requirement. It is also observed that students seldom took part in teaching learning process and passively listens to the teachers. Students have become too much dependent on teachers, and usually expect ready-made notes or solved questions to be delivered to them. As a result, students were not able to apply acquired knowledge in daily living and in professional life as reported by REC (2007).
Such problems were observed by research team ever since they started teaching at School X. Weekly tests and spelling tests were conducted on regular basis and follow up home works were given with strict monitoring. Further, they tried teaching in every best possible way, yet students showed minimum improvement. One significant hurdle they faced was not able to adopt student centered instruction methods while difficulties in embracing the needs of diverse learners became another notable issue.
From all those observations, need of instant interventions was felt. Students are often blamed for their learning predicament, but teachers are also equally accountable. There is an urgent need of paradigm shift from traditional teaching to learner centered instruction method (Ministry of Education (MoE), 2014). Significant number of studies have proven that MI teaching strategies promote learning in students (Campbell, 1989; Haley, 2004; Kaya, Dogan, Gokcek, Kılıc & Kılıç ,2007; Armstrong,2009; Sulaiman, Abdurahman, & Rahim, 2010; Soliemani, Moinnzadela, Kassain & Ketabi, 2012; & Hanafin, 2014). On contrary, literatures have depicted that Bhutanese teachers predominantly use traditional way of teaching; teacher centered teaching (Namgyel, 2013). Not much is known about the implication of MI teaching strategies on student’s learning in Bhutanese context. Therefore, this action research was envisaged to promote science learning amongst the Class VIII students of School X. This action research will not only benefit science teachers and students, it will also be useful to the curriculum designers and other concerned stakeholders. The following research question was employed for the study;
How can we enhance science learning amongst the class VIII students of School X?
Following are the objectives of the study
- To help students learn science easily and actively.
- To improve the instruction methods by incorporating MI teaching strategies.
- To promote science learning in students.
The 21st century youth throughout the world are facing with HIV/AIDS pandemic, global climate change, world hunger, space exploration, and the development and realization of alternative sources of energy (Anderman et al, 2012). Quality science education in school has become essential to confront these challenges. UNESCO (2013) emphasized that branches of science such as engineering is imperative to address essential human needs including health, agriculture, drinking water, industry, building, energy, transport, disaster prevention and poverty eradication. Above all, REC (2017) upheld that purpose of science education in Bhutan is to develop skills to perceive change critically in the light of new evidence and to empower students in a dynamic world facilitating them to handle and instigate change.
Science education has greater role in preparing today’s youth to face the challenges but studies pointed out that education system in Bhutan lagged in producing students with quality science education. Substantiated by REC (2008); outcome in science subject was below the minimum expectation in which students were not able to connect concepts learnt in the class with their daily activities.
There is also indication of lack of interest in science subjects amongst the students. It is evident from the findings of Johnson, Childs, Ramachandran and Tenzin (2008) which reported that somewhere in 2006; only 21% of students were enrolled in science stream in Bhutan. Ali (2012) claimed, the nature of subject is making students incapable to display understanding of fundamental concepts and then they take least interest in attending science classes (Anderman et al, 2012). Possibly it could be due to instruction methods used by the science teachers. Bhutanese teachers frequently are default to teacher centered classroom with lecture as a primary mode of transmitting knowledge and information influenced by factors such as lack of space and school resources, time constraints, doubt that group work leads to right answers, frustration with students’ limited language ability, and inadequate teaching materials (Namgyel, 2013). Odom and Bell (2013) argued that traditional method is associated with individual work, reduced social interaction, and limited concrete experiences and provide inadequate opportunity for students to develop an understanding of the processes of science.
MoE (2014) called for the need of improvement in the methods of instructions that upscale engagement and construct knowledge through own experiences. Weimer (2002) maintained that adopting learner centered teaching strategies creates egalitarian classroom and offer students an avenue to develop critical thinking skills and improves learning as learners become more responsible and accountable. Campbell (1999), Armstrong (2009), Hanafin (2014) and Sulaiman et al (2010) for the same ascertained that the use of MI approach bring enhancement in science learning.
All children have different proclivities in the eight intelligences. Any particular strategy can be successful with one group but ineffective with others. Shifting intelligence emphasis from one presentation to another is essential to engross with their developed intelligences (Armstrong, 2009). Balanced instructional methods that encourage multiple intelligences cater all learners and provide appropriate opportunities to strengthen their underutilized intelligences (Haley, 2004).
Soliemani et al (2012) have observed better performance and improved attitudes of students in language skills such as vocabulary, reading comprehension, and structure after teaching them with MI approach. MI strategies have concurrent implications in science subject as it is evident in the similar study of Kaya, Doğan, Gökçek, Kılıç and Kılıç (2007). Besides, reduced behavioral problems, augmented parent participation, and increased ability to cater diverse learners are some of the reported advantages of MI in science class (Fierros, 2004). MI strategies inculcate positive attitudes in students towards the teacher and the subject taught by the teacher making them more enthusiastic (Haley, 2004).
It is of the utmost importance that we recognize and nurture all of the varied human intelligences, and all of the combinations of intelligences. We are all so different largely because we all have different combinations of intelligences. If we recognize this, I think we will have at least a better chance of dealing appropriately with the many problems that we face in the world (Gardner in Armstrong, 2009, p.5).
Accordingly Gardner argued intelligence as the ability to resolve problems or to design products that are valued in one or more cultural settings. He then proposed the existence of a number of relatively independent human intelligences; linguistic, logical–mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic.
Linguistic intelligence is capacity to use words effectively in written or verbal form. It is sensitive to the sounds, rhythm and meaning of word; sensitivity to different functions of language. The intelligence includes manipulation of structure, sounds and meanings of language, and the practical uses of language (Gardner & Hatch, 1989; Armstrong, 2009). Five teaching strategies suitable for such intelligence are story-telling, brainstorming, journal writing, publishing and tap recording (Armstrong, 2009).
Logical-mathematical intelligence is ability to use numbers effectively and to reason well. A person with logical-mathematics is sensitive to logical or numerous patterns, statements and propositions (cause-effect), functions, and other related abstractions (Gardner & Hatch, 1989; Armstrong, 2009). Five possible teaching strategies according to Armstrong (2009) are classification and categorization, heuristic, science thinking, calculation and quantification and Socratic questioning.
Spatial intelligence is expertise in perceiving the visual-spatial world accurately and to perform innovative transformations after perceptions. It involves sensitivity to color, line, shape, form, space, and the relationship that exists between these elements and abstractions (Gardner & Hatch, 1989; Armstrong, 2009). The five teaching strategies as suggested by Armtsrong (2009) are color cues, visualization, idea sketching, graphic symbol and picture metaphor.
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is proficiency in using ones whole body to articulate ideas and feelings and facility in using one’s hands to produce or transform things. It includes physical skills such as coordination, balance, dexterity, strength and flexibility (Armtsrong, 2009). Gardner and Hatch (1989) summarized it as capacity to control one’s body movements and to handle objects skillfully. Five suggested teaching strategies are body answer, kinesthetic concepts, hands on thinking, body maps and classroom theatre (Armstrong, 2009).
Musical intelligence is expertise in sensing, discriminating, transforming, appreciating and expressing in musical forms. It constitutes sensitivity to the rhythm, pitch or melody and timbre of musical piece (Gardner & Hatch, 1989; Armstrong, 2009). Rhythms, songs, raps, chants, super-memory music, musical concepts, mood music and discographies are recommended teaching strategies for musical intelligence (Armstrong, 2009).
Interpersonal intelligence is capacity to discern and respond suitably to the moods, temperaments, motivations, and desire for others (Gardner & Hatch, 1989). It accounts the one’s sensitivity to the facial expression, voice, and gestures and ability to differentiate and respond to the interpersonal cues. Peer sharing, people sculptures, board games, simulation and cooperative groups are proposed teaching strategies for interpersonal intelligence.
Intrapersonal intelligence is ability to understand one’s own feelings and to discriminate among them and draw upon them to guide behavior; knowledge of one’s own strengths, weaknesses, desires and intelligence (Gardner & Hatch, 1989). Armstrong (2009) confirmed it as self-knowledge and ability to adapt by understanding self. Possible teaching strategies are one minute reflection period, personal connections, choice time, feeling toned moments and goal setting session (Armstrong, 2009).
Naturalist intelligence is proficiency in the identification and classification of the numerous kinds of living and non-living components in the individual’s environment. This also includes sensitivity to other natural phenomena such as cloud formation and geographical features. The recommended strategies are window onto learning, nature walk, and plants as props, pet-in-the classroom and eco-study (Armstrong, 2009).
The study was conducted amongst the grade VIII students of School X. 37 students consisting equal number of male and female were randomly sampled to collect quantitative data. 11 students from the research participants were selected for the in-depth interview. The data for the study were collected using both qualitative and quantitative tools. Questionnaire that sought answer to the research question was properly designed and administered to the research participants. Questionnaires were pretested among the few non-participants for validation prior to the actual survey. Semi-structured interviews were conducted as to understand the students’ in-depth experience in the science class during the research period. Observations of lesson by critical friends were carried out twice a week for three participant teachers to assess the nature of instruction method.
As mandated in general ethic of action research, two sets of data were collected. Pre-line data were collected prior to the intervention strategies and pose-line data after the intervention with MI teaching strategies. During study period, participant teachers intervened with Multiple Intelligence (MI) teaching strategies for the period of two months after analyzing the base line data. MI teaching strategies were designed based on Armstrong (2009, p.72-98).
The quantitative data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) while thematic analysis was done to derive conclusion from qualitative data. Data collected from different tools were triangulated for authentication of results. Baseline data and post line data were then compared to examine the impact of MI approach in promoting science learning amongst the students. The result generated was then corroborated with other related literatures.
In the quantitative data, 24.3% and 10.8% of the students agreed or strongly agreed that science is an easy subject which means that more than half of the students felt that science is either difficult or moderately hard subject. Qualitative data confirmed that science is difficult subject for many of the students due to bulky syllabus and presence of chemical equations in chemistry part of the subject (R4, R8, R9, R10 & R11). 54.1% and 13.5 % of the respondent students reported that they were able to connect the concepts they learnt in science class to their daily life practices. 18.9% and 62.2% of the students strongly agreed or agreed that they like learning science subject. (See table 2, 3, 4).
In depth analysis of data collected through semi-structured interview, survey questionnaire and observations specified that science learning amongst the students was impeded by learning barriers; such as predominance of entire lesson period by lecture method of instruction, lack of well-prepared teaching aids and insignificant students’ engagement during the teaching learning process. The barriers are discussed under three major themes; teaching strategies, Teaching Learning Materials (TLM) and overall classroom interaction.
Teaching strategies practiced by teacher significantly affects the students’ learning both insides and outside the classroom. Of 37 research participants, 67.6% of respondents reported that their teachers always teach through lecture method while 16.2% of the students asserted that lecture is often used instruction method. But 58.3% and 16.7% of the respondents maintained that group work is often or always implemented in the science class. Majority of the students (64.8%) agreed that their science teachers relates the concept learnt in the class with daily life experiences. However, data proved that active learning strategies such as field learning and experiment were incorporated rarely in the science class. 86.4% of participants responded that field learning is rarely or never incorporated while more than 70% of students have the same opinion about the experiment.
Qualitative data also pointed out that all teachers (Teacher1 (T1), Teacher2 (T2) and Teacher3 (T3)) primarily used lecture method of instruction; which is the typical characteristics of traditional mode of instruction. Students positioned that they either listen to lecture or explanation made by science teachers (R1, R3, R4, R5, R6, R7, R8, R9, R10 & R11). R8 said “…lecturing is method that is mostly used by the teachers” while R7 stated “I think it is the starting of the year, that is why our science teachers are just lecturing or solving exercise questions.”
The observations of lessons by critical friends on all T1, T2, and T3 corroborated that a commonly practiced teaching strategy was lecture method. Teachers were noticed of talking for almost whole length of lesson period with few question-answer sessions in between. Specifically teachers were either not prepared well or handicapped with properly planned learning activities. It was apparent from the observation made by critical friends (CF1 and CF4) that there was no sequential flow of lesson or new topics were introduced without making necessary connections with student’s previous knowledge.
More than half (60%) of the respondent students stated that their science teachers rarely or never use TLM other than chalk and board. The observation of teaching by critical friends pointed that science teachers are either without well prepared TLM or not planned for using any TLM available in the class (CF1, CF2, CF3 & CF4). It was validated in the observation made by CF1, CF2 and CF4 that teacher explained concepts using things like fans, table and students body parts with ad hoc plan during the instruction period. The commonly used TLMs were chalk board, chalk, textbook, notebook and pen (CF1, CF2, CF3 & CF4).
It was perceptible from the baseline data that there was minimum classroom interaction. Majority of the students agreed or strongly agreed that they felt shy when participating in learning activities while significant percent (27%) of the participants viewed that they are scared of teachers. Observation of lesson established that whole length of class was controlled by the teachers’ lesson delivery and instruction with little classroom interaction (CF1 & CF2). Students were less engaged in the teaching learning process and where found sleeping, playing with pen or fingers, eating and whispering during the lesson delivery (CF1, CF2, CF3 & CF4).
During the lesson observation, students were noticed of being reluctant to interact with teachers and their friends (CF1 & CF2). Students were either hesitant or shy to share their opinion in the class (R3, R7, R8, & R9). The student R2 mentioned “I feel shy thinking that answer might be wrong”. Students were found responding only after insisted by the teachers and that too by few active students (CF1 & CF2).
On contrary to the current practice of teaching strategies, student respondents have claimed that they learn science more when they were taught through active teaching strategies such as experiment and group discussions (R2, R3, R6, R7, & R11). R7 stated “…my expectations from science teachers are to demonstrate and show us the clear concepts through experiment.some students never listen to the teachers’ lecture.” Some students emphasized the need of teaching learning material during the science class (R8 & R1) while others stated that teacher should teach with humor and without being harsh on students (R1 & R2).
It was shown that students were having positive view about participating in learning activities. 94.6% of the students agreed or strongly agreed that they learn science more when they were taught through experiment whilst 91.8%, 57.1%, 81% and 66.6% of total participants have same view on examples related to daily life experience, field learning, group work and use of TLM respectively. Semi structured interview authenticated that students feel happy and proud when they are able to respond with correct answer (R1, R2, R5, & R6). They viewed that their teacher rewards them whenever they respond with precise answer. Students believed that they learn from their peers and are fond of discussing with their friends. Students were self-motivated by the fact that science is important in their daily and professional life in future (R2, R4 & R11) (see table 12-16).
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