Evaluating Attitudes Towards History Fieldwork In Malaysian Secondary Schools

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History fieldwork was introduced into the Integrated Curriculum for Secondary Schools (ICSS) Malaysia in 1988 and reviewed in 2000. This approach is compulsory for all pupils at lower secondary level namely, Forms One, Two and Three. The aim of introducing this method was to expose pupils, in accordance with their age level, to the history of the nearest locality, a much smaller area than a district, state or country. The emphasis of the ICSS history fieldwork component is on understanding community and environment in a Malaysian context. It is designed to encourage pupils to acquire knowledge about (and to display sensitivity towards) groups and their environments as stipulated in the Policy of National Development, the Philosophy of National Education, and the Philosophy of History Education, Malaysia (Ministry of Education, 1988; 2008).

Literature Review

The ICSS was formulated by the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) Ministry of Education (1988; 2000). Its aims in relation to the learning of the history fieldwork are:

i. to develop and enhance pupils' intellectual capacity with respect to rational, critical and creative thinking;

ii. to acquire knowledge, develop a mastery of skills and be able to use them in daily life;

iii. to develop their abilities and faculties for the betterment of themselves and society;

iv. to develop the confidence and the resilience to face challenges in life;

v. to understand, be aware of and appreciate the history as well as the socio-cultural milieu of the country;

vi. to be sensitive to, concerned about and appreciative of the environment and its aesthetic value; and

vii. to be able to develop skills to cope with new areas of knowledge and development in technology.

The ICSS in general aims to provide pupils with a total school experience which includes the learning processes inside and outside the classroom. The foremost feature in the ICSS is the use of a holistic approach which entails integrating first, knowledge, skills and values; second, theory and practice; and finally, the curriculum, extra-curricular activities and the school culture (Ministry of Education, 2008).

The teaching and learning of history fieldwork is focussed on the study of a particular geographical area and anything that is relevant in a pupil's immediate environment. According to Black and MacRaild (1997) the emphasis is shifted from the singular nation to the plural region. The greatest appeal of this definition lies in its quality of immediacy.

As a foundation to history fieldwork, pupils should be given sufficient exposure and guidance concerning the 'nature' of fieldwork approaches to history. This accords with the findings of Andreetti (1993), Watts (1993), and, Southgate (1997) who realised that by using artefacts discovered on sites as a stimulus it is possible to elicit and extend children's understanding of the historical concepts of change, chronology, and cause and effect. Furthermore, the study of artefacts in history fieldwork involves active learning and direct experience (Wood and Holden, 1997). It also provides opportunities for children to discuss their ideas and make connections with their prior knowledge and experience in the quest for historical understanding. This should be followed by the teacher correcting misconceptions, extending children's learning through the input of new knowledge, and helping them to make connections with other disciplines and prior experience. This is because successful teaching and learning depends on appropriate teaching methods which take into account the nature of progression in children's understanding (Wood & Holden, 1997; Cohen, Manion & Morrisson, 1996; White, 1994; Brooks, & Perry, 1993; Dickinson, 1992).

Archer (1985) clarifies that history fieldwork should involve 'field work' rather than 'field teaching'. He defines 'field teaching' as the describing, explaining, posing and answering of questions and the stimulation of discussion as conducted by the teacher. The term 'field work', on the other hand, places the emphasis on the pupils, who play a much more active role examining, describing and explaining the historical features of the site studied or visited. Archer (1985:49) explains that the involvement, participation and contribution of pupils in a fieldwork study are best described as follows:

Fieldwork is to be seen essentially as one of the means whereby pupils can use the physical, visible remains of the past, in conjunction with other source material, in class and in situ to construct an account of the thoughts and actions of people in the past. Such activity may take place in the area immediately adjacent to the school or much farther afield.

This is very much in line with Watts and Grosvenor's (1995) suggestion that pupils are entitled to learning experiences which allow them to demonstrate their progress in knowledge and understanding of history, and imbues them with:

the ability to give historical explanation

the ability to investigate and work with historical sources of different kinds

the ability to provide interpretations of the past that are consistent with the evidence

the ability to locate, select and organise historical information

the ability to present findings appropriately and effectively give historical explanations

a sense of the past - an awareness of how the past has helped to fashion the present

enthusiasm for exploring the past

respect for evidence, toleration of a range of opinions, and a constructive approach to collaborative working.

Assuming this to be true, fieldwork enables pupils to be more independent in their study, more motivated to learn history, more creative in their thinking, more productive and more self-confident.

Moreover, a fieldwork approach to history is in accordance with the theories of Jean Piaget (1958) which are concerned with the development of logical, interrelated systems or thinking patterns known as 'operations'. The theory focuses on the creation of logical, deductive thinking in children and their habit to develop the capacity to think in abstract terms, to pose hypotheses and to reach conclusions. The child's actions and ability to function in an environment are of fundamental importance in his or her emotional and intellectual development. This aptitude may appear in the formal operational stage at 11 or 12 years of age, i.e. Form One.

In view of the above, this study focuses on the introduction of history fieldwork as a compulsory coursework in the ICSS history curriculum and the examination and observation of its development at the various stages of its implementation.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to examine the pupils' perceptions concerning the basic role and function of fieldwork approaches to history. More specifically, the research intends to answer the following questions:

Do pupils think that fieldwork approaches gives them an opportunity to identify differences between the past and the present?

Do pupils think that fieldwork approaches gives them an opportunity to suggest reasons why people in the past acted as they did?

Do pupils think that fieldwork approaches gives them an opportunity to understand that stories may be about real or fictional people?

Do pupils think that fieldwork approaches gives them an opportunity to develop an awareness that different stories give different versions of what happened?

In fact, these questions are considered as 'guiding hypotheses' with the aim of surveying pupils' perceptions about ICSS history fieldwork.

Methodology of the Study

The researcher identified that the population of this study are pupils of Malaysian Lower Secondary Schools involved in the ICSS. The source of information for determining the population and permission to conduct this research were obtained from the Education, Planning and Research Development (EPRD), Ministry of Education Malaysia, the States Education Department of Perak and Terengganu, and, the principals of the respective schools.

The selection of respondents in this survey was based on 'stratified-random sampling'. A total of 400 pupils from Lower Perak District in Perak and 400 pupils from Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia participated. The sample population involved in the survey was stratified according to district, type of school, level of education, gender and ethnic group. The researcher distributed the questionnaires to the respondents with the help of senior assistants and classroom teachers.

Each questionnaire was verified by the researcher to ensure that it had been satisfactorily completed. The data collected were processed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS Version 14). For content validity, the researcher sought assistance and guidance from lecturers of the Birmingham University School of Education, lecturers and colleagues of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Institute of Education (INSTED). The questionnaire was successfully pilot-tested on fifty sample pupils to attain reliability (Cohen and Manion, 1994).

The results of this study are displayed according to the number of responses, percentage, mean and standard deviation. Best and Kahn (1990), Coolican (1996) and Wiersma (2005) stated that in normal language 'mean' is an average, and 'standard deviation' is simply the square root of the variance. Mean is normally used to measure the 'central tendency' of responses in 'descriptive statistics'. Standard deviation is used to measure the 'dispersion' of responses.

In addition to the questionnaire, the researcher conducted a thirty-minute, face-to-face interview with each respondent. Forty respondents were involved. The respondents were selected via convenience sampling and with the assistance of the classroom teachers (after obtaining prior permission from the school principals). Overall, the principals, teachers and students were very supportive and helpful. The interviewees were asked standard closed and semi-structured questions which had been previously pilot-tested.

After receiving answers from interviewees, the researcher followed up with relevant, provocative questions aimed at examining their knowledge and understanding of certain issues (Babbie, 1977; Wiersma, 2005). Every answer was correlated to a checklist so as not to interrupt the flow of the interviews.

The interviews were tape-recorded with prior permission from the interviewees and granted informed consent from the classroom teachers and principals. All information acquired from the interviews was treated as highly confidentiality and used only for purpose of this research.

The researcher discovered that pupils' statements or arguments were based on the topics they had covered in history fieldwork either individually, in a group or via a class visit. (This may explain why some of the pupils used plural pronouns, especially 'we' in their conversations).

The presentations of the findings were mainly based on the interviewees' verbal answers and not so much on their nonverbal communication. Hence, only answers significant to the research questions were selected and included in the discussions. Some of the common answers by the pupils were scrutinised and presented in one quotation, sentence or item.

Background information on the pupils/respondents (including distribution) is presented in the following sections.

Description of Samples: Pupils' Backgrounds

The survey was conducted in two districts; namely the Hilir Perak District of Perak and Kuala Terengganu District of Terengganu. These districts were selected from the states because they met the criteria required for this research, especially with regard to the type of school, pupils, and location. The respondents involved in this research were 400 pupils (50.0%) from each district.

There were three types of schools involved in the survey, namely 'regular' (n=520 or 65%), 'science' (n=140 or 17.5%) and 'religious' (n=140 or 17.5%) schools.

The main sample of this research comprised lower secondary school pupils from Forms One, Two and Three, with 240 (30.0%) respondents chosen from each. The researcher also included selected Form Four pupils (n=80 or 10%) who had experienced history fieldwork teaching and learning in Form Three. The reason for this was to compliment the findings of this research. The researcher selected and distributed the questionnaires to the same number of boys (n=400 or 50%) and girls (n=400 or 50%).

The proportioning of the ethnic groups involved in the study was representative of the nation as a whole, with the Malays being the major participants followed by the Chinese and the Indians. In terms of distribution, the Malays accounted for 66.0% of the participants (n=528), the Chinese, 21.0% (n-168), and the Indians 13% (n=104).

The findings and results of this research on history fieldwork approaches are presented and discussed in the following sections.

Analysis of Findings

The findings of the questionnaire survey are presented according to the number of responses, percentage, mean and standard deviation.

Pupils' Perceptions on Fieldwork Approaches to History

The pupils were asked to respond to four questions regarding the basic elements of the history fieldwork approaches. The results are presented in Table 1 below:

Table 1:

Pupils' perceptions on the nature of fieldwork approaches to history

No

Do you think that fieldwork approaches give you an opportunity to:

Pupils' Responses (N=800)

Mean

SD

VSDA

1

SDA

2

DA

3

AA

4

SAA

5

VSAA

6

Disagreement

Agreement

1.

identify differences between past and present?

19

2.4%

11

1.4%

31

3.9%

100

12.5%

327

40.9%

312

39.0%

5.05

1.08

61 (7.6%)

739 (92.4%)

2.

suggest reasons why people in the past acted as they did?

14

1.8%

36

4.5%

72

9.0%

246

30.8%

297

37.1%

135

16.9%

4.48

1.12

121 (15.1%)

679 (84.9%)

3.

understand that stories may be about real or fictional people?

17

2.1

30

3.8

45

5.6

168

21.0

238

29.8

302

37.8

4.86

1.21

92 (11.5%)

708 (88.5%)

4.

develop an awareness that different stories give different versions of what happened?

21

2.6%

27

3.4%

80

10.0%

223

27.9%

297

37.1%

152

19.0%

4.50

1.16

128 (16.0%)

672 (84.0%)

Average Responses

12.5%

87.5%

4.62

1.19

Key: VSDA -Very Strongly Disagree, SDA - Strongly Disagree, DA - Disagree,

AA - Agree, SAA - Strongly Agree, VSAA - Very Strongly Agree.

Table 1 reveals the pupils to be most in agreement with 'item 1' with 92.4% (n=739) agreeing; and least agreed on 'item 4' with 84.0% (n=672) agreeing.

The analysis and discussion of the pupils' perceptions on item 1' according to 'state', 'type of school', 'level of education', 'gender' and 'ethnic group' is presented in Table 2 below. The other findings are from the three interview questions given to the selected respondents.

Research Question:

Do you think that fieldwork approaches to history give you an opportunity to identify differences between the past and the present?

The findings in Table 2 reveal the positive responses to the question from the state of Perak to be really impressive and higher than from Terengganu. The scores were 95.5% (n=382) and 89.2% (n=357) respectively. The results indicate that different localities have slightly different perceptions about the statement.

With regard to the type of school, positive responses from Science and Regular schools were very high with 95.7% (n=140) and 92.3% (n=520) agreeing respectively. The figure for Religious schools was 89.2% (n=140). The result indicates that all three types of school generally agree with the statement.

Table 2:

Pupils' perceptions on whether fieldwork approaches to history give them an opportunity to identify differences between the past and the present

Respondents (N=800)

Disagreement (%)

Agreement (%)

States

Perak (n=400)

18 (4.5)

382 (95.5)

Terengganu (n=400)

43 (10.7)

357 (89.3)

Type of School

Regular (n=520)

40 (7.7)

480 (92.3)

Science (n=140)

6 (4.3)

134 (95.7)

Religious (n=140)

15 (10.7)

125 (89.3)

Level of Education

Form 1 (n=240)

16 (6.7)

224 (93.3)

Form 2 (n=240)

25 (10.4)

215 (96.4)

Form 3 (n=240)

10 (4.2)

230 (95.8)

Form 4 (n=80)

10 (12.5)

70 (87.5)

Gender

Boys (n=400)

29 (7.3)

371 (92.7)

Girls (n=400)

32 (8.0)

368 (92.0)

Ethnicity

Malays (n=528)

43 (8.1)

485 (91.9)

Chinese (n=168)

10 (6.0)

158 (94.0)

Indians (n=104)

9 (8.7)

95 (91.3)

At the secondary education level, Form Three pupils responded most positively, with 95.8% (n=240) agreeing, followed by Form One, with 93.3% (n=240) and Form Two, with 89.6% (n=240). In Form Four, 87.5% (n=80) agreed. The findings indicate that all forms were generally in agreement with the proposition.

Boys and girls had nearly the same percentage of positive responses to the statement with 92.7% and 92.0% agreeing respectively from 400 respondents in each category.

Finally, the survey reveals that the positive responses to the proposition based on ethnicity were really high. The highest level of agreement was from the Chinese with 94.0% (n=168) agreeing, followed by the Malays with 92.0% (n=528) agreeing and the Indians with 91.3% (N=104) in agreement. The result indicates that all ethnic groups generally agreed with the statement.

The following sections discuss the result of the interviews with the selected respondents based on the four questions related to the nature of history fieldwork approaches, ICSS, Malaysia.

Question 1:

Do pupils think that fieldwork approaches to history give them an opportunity to identify differences between the past and the present?

The results reveal that respondents raised different views about their decisions which were discussed in the interview with the researcher.

Most of the respondents admitted that fieldwork approaches can identify differences between the past and the present. As one of the pupils in Lower Perak indicated, 'By visiting the historical site we could see different type of buildings, tools and other artefacts. These things could be used to identify differences between past and present' (P4).

From the survey it is clear that the positive responses to 'question 1' (Table 2) were higher in Perak than in Terengganu. In fact, the District of Lower Perak, where the survey was done has fewer historical sites and remnants compared to the district of Kuala Terengganu. There is a possibility that the pupils in Perak discovered they have lost most of their local heritage and tourist attractions. Their locality is not as attractive as before and what is left is only the story of the past. This could be one of the reasons why so many of the pupils in Perak strongly agreed with the statement.

One of the reasons for the high agreement in science and regular schools could be that pupils' understanding about the nature of history, particularly 'the past' is in line with most of the definitions of Western history writers, such as Blyth (1989) and Marwick (1989), i.e., it is to enable pupils to differentiate between the past and the present. Moreover, Carr (1990) emphasises that the function of the historian is to master and understand the past as the key to the understanding of the present.

On the other hand, there is a great possibility pupils in religious schools were also influenced by the 'nature of history' as conceptualised in religious subjects. They understood more about life and the affects of what people did and thus can learn how to behave in future and even for all time to come. This was mentioned by a pupil from one religious school: 'What I learned from history fieldwork is beneficial for the present and the future' (P20). This is in line with the comments of another girl who said that, 'The story of starvation during Japanese occupation in Malaya as told by my mother really impressed me. I can learn a lot of lessons from it' (P22). In fact, the learning of lessons from the past for the benefit of those living in the present and future is believed to be the most common approach to teaching history in religious schools.

One of the reasons for the high number of positive responses from Form Three pupils is that their work in history fieldwork is generally assessed and included in the Lower Secondary Assessment. Therefore, they can be expected to devote more attention to the basic concept of fieldwork. Thus, the concept and nature of the subject will still be fresh in the pupils' minds. The reason for the less positive response from the Form Two pupils was probably because the lessons are taken for granted in Form One due to the absence of stress. There is a possibility that the Form Four pupils, might think that the past stays in the past and thus has little relation to their other school subjects, such as Science and Mathematics. As one of a Form Four boys in Perak said, 'It is difficult to see the relationship between history and Additional Mathematics' (P9). This is in line with the remarks of another pupil who said, 'We do not discuss history in Pure Mathematics' (P31). Both of them agreed that what they acquired in history fieldwork was for the sake of the subject itself. However, the number of responses in agreement among groups of different gender and ethnicity was very encouraging.

Question 2:

Do pupils think that fieldwork approaches give them an opportunity to suggest reasons why people in the past acted as they did?

The interviews in Perak were conducted at a school located near padi fields. Nowadays, the area has been developed into a modern padi farm funded by the World Bank under the Krian-Sungai Manik Development projects.

One of the pupils in Perak said, 'I still can remember that my grandfather used buffaloes to plough the padi (rice) field behind our house. He took several days to finish the job. At that time the people used a "sabit" (chisel or L-shaped knife) to harvest padi' (P2). Another pupil stated: 'The farmers carried the padi on their back to move to places nearby and used bicycles to go further distances. Some of them used bullock carts' (P1).

Asked why such activities were practised at the time, pupils P1 and P2 gave the same answer: 'At that time there was no ploughing tractor and no harvesting machine in their place. The road was very small and not suitable for cars or lorry to carry the harvested padi'. One of the pupils said, 'It was not very long ago...sometime in the 1960s...my father had not married yet. This is what he told me about his experiences during his younger days' (P2).

A Form Four girl clarified, 'Nowadays, everything is different. The farmers use tractors to plough the fields. They use harvesting machines when the padi is ripe. They transport the padi in gunny sacks mostly on motorcycles, and sometimes in small lorries' (P4). This information enables pupils to develop understanding and skills to cope with new areas of knowledge and development in technology as stated in the objectives of ICSS history.

In fact, Statement B2 is basic to the nature of history fieldwork, in particular being related to the concept of empathy. The pupils need to think and give reasons why people in the past acted as they did, or why people in the past failed to adopt obviously better courses of action. Perhaps some pupils might see the failure in a very general function of time and evolution: that is the further back we go, the more backward or primitive people can be expected to be.

The real basis of all this is the inability of the pupil to recognise that people in the past often could not know - either in general or in detail - what the pupil now knows and takes for granted. Add to this pupils' inability to envisage the inherent complexity of human institutions and interactions, and the past becomes a catalogue of absurd behaviour, to which the only possible reaction is one of irritated incomprehension and contempt.

At this level, the additional difficulty of people in the past seeing things very differently from us, and having different values, goals and expectations, begins to enter the pupils' calculations only as part of the problem, not as the first step towards attempting a solution. However, some pupils begin to realise that it was the technology that was less modern than today, not the people. This was confirmed by one of the pupils who said, 'At that time there were no tractors available here. The land surface was not suitable for harvesting machines. The farmers had to do everything manually. Most of them were self-subsistence farmers' (P4).

Many of the interviewed pupils mentioned that they discovered this during their history fieldwork. They agreed that this approach gave them opportunities to suggest reasons why people in the past acted as they did.

This is in line with the aim of ICSS, formulated by the CDC Ministry of Education (2009) which states that analysis and judgement must be illumined by imagination to provide the understanding of people of the past that characterises the historian's perspective. The pupil has to be able to enter the mind and feelings of all the persons involved in an event and appreciate their differing attitudes without necessarily approving of their motives if they are to understand why, given their situation, they acted as they did. Moreover, the imagination must be disciplined by the available evidence (Andreetti (1993).

With regard to the above, Sebba (1994:7) clarified that 'the importance of history as a vehicle for delivering this entitlement comes from a number of aspects of teaching history which are intrinsic to the subject'. Firstly, history deals with human motivation; and secondly, history has a very important part to play in pupils' cultural development. Carpenter (1990) and Smith and Holden (1994) stated that an exploration of why people acted in the way they did often reveals dimensions of motivation which are usually social and cultural, often moral and sometimes spiritual. It is difficult to find a better way to understand one's own culture than by looking at others. In fact this is the true territory of history.

Question 3:

Do pupils think that fieldwork approaches give them an opportunity to understand that stories may be about real or fictional people?

The respondents raised different views concerning their decisions which were discussed in the interviews with the researcher.

Three Form One pupils (P36, P39 and P41) from three different schools in Terengganu, who were coincidentally studying the same topic, stated that they visited Telemong, the place associated with Haji Abdul Rahman Limbong who led the Farmers Uprisings in 1926, 1927 and 1929 (Abdullah Zakaria 1986). They claimed that they got the facts and evidence by interviewing his families and relatives. All of them agreed that fieldwork approaches give them an opportunity to distinguish which stories may be real and those which may be fictional. This thought is in line with Blyth (1989) who stated that history is about real people and real events interacting with each other in the past.

In the interviews, a Form Three pupil said, 'What I acquired from my fieldwork were facts about Kiyai Haji Yasin. His contributions to religious matters, education, socio-economic activities and politics were real' (P15). Another pupil mentioned that 'Dato Haji Hasan Adli was the figure who was responsible for the development and upgrading of Madrasah Ulum-Syariah. At the present this school has a joint-programme with the University of Al-Azhar, Egypt' (P14). The researcher was informed by the school administration that Madrasah Ulum-Syariah was the first religious school in Perak to have such 'great' progress, that is, a partnership with a higher education establishment in another country. This can help pupils to understand, be aware of, and appreciate the history as well as the socio-cultural milieu of the country as aspired to by the ICSS.

The pupils re-affirmed that a fieldwork approach can give them an opportunity to find out whether the stories were about real or fictional people. This is in line with Marwick (l989) who stressed that one of the important aspects of history is the activity of enquiry into the past, based on the rigorous study of sources, and striving conscientiously to challenge myth and legend.

These answers were commonly highlighted by respondents during the interviews. They realised that some of the information presented by the narrators or sources was exaggerated. This was mentioned by a Science school pupil in Lower Perak 'It is difficult to prove a story that Sungai Manik was defended by eight 'bullet-proofed' leaders during the Bintang Tiga Communist attacked on the village' (P16). This is line with the argument of another pupil who stated that, '...and it is also difficult to totally reject the story, because we can see the result that there is no single Chinese living in Sungai Manik today' (P15). Perhaps, this can give pupils the confidence and the resilience to face challenges in life as stipulated in the ICSS approach to history.

Therefore, further investigation and more objective research needs to be carried out by more qualified historians.

Question 4:

Do pupils think that fieldwork approaches give them an opportunity to develop an awareness that different stories give different versions of what happened?

In this respect, the researcher wishes to highlight one of the interesting in-depth interviews with the pupils in Perak as discussed below.

One of the pupils in Form Two science school stated, 'We visited Pasir Salak in Kampung Gajah Teluk Intan. It is a place where J.W.W Birch, the first British Resident was assassinated' (P17). Another pupil, who did the same topic said, 'We acquired different information about the reasons for the assassination. There were three main reasons given by the local people' (P13). These were as follows:

First, the introduction of a new law by Birch, second, the interests of local noblemen were threatened, and, third, Birch tak faham bahasa which means Birch did not understand the language. The pupils claimed 'the reasons were given by three different categories of people'.

It is difficult to determine the 'immediate and ultimate' reason because the pupils acquired different versions of what happened. In fact, pupils P13 and P17 both argued that they were more confused by the third reason 'tak faham bahasa'. This phrase could be interpreted in various ways, such as 'did not understand the language', 'did not listen to people', 'did not respect the people' and 'did not understand the norms and culture'. The pupils (P13 and P17) stated that they managed to clarify the reasons acquired during the fieldwork through discussion with the teacher in class. Marwick (1989) considers this as the general attempt by humans to describe, reconstruct and interpret the past. This 'dilemma' has been clarified by Cooper (1992) and Southgate (1997): one must read not only on, but between, the lines of a record to achieve reconstruction. But this usually cannot be done, without an underpinning of enabling knowledge.

From the findings of the study, it is clear that fieldwork approaches to history are significantly related to the theory of Jean Piaget (1958), which concerns the development of logical, interrelated systems or thinking patterns known as 'operations'. The study focuses on the creation of logical, deductive thinking in pupils and their habit to develop the capacity to think in abstract terms, to pose hypotheses and to reach conclusions. These habits, known as problem solving abilities, are formed through the interaction of the pupil with his or her environment where new experiences are assimilated into existing thought patterns. The pupil's actions and environment or historical sites are fundamentally important in his or her emotional and intellectual development. This aptitude may appear in the formal operational stage at 11 or 12 years of age (Form One). As a result of this existing dimension of 'pure thought', pupils may show the ability to take results of concrete operational thought, shape them into propositions or hypotheses and deduce further information from them. Therefore the relation of the finding of this study to Jean Piaget's theory is exclusively obvious and logic.

Summary and Recommendations

The results from the interviews show that the study of fieldwork in history can fulfil a variety of purposes and aims of the ICSS, Malaysia (1988, 2000); first, to make pupils aware that the visible remains of the past around us are as important as a resource for understanding history as written documents; second, to equip pupils with knowledge, skills and techniques which will enable them to identify remains, study and interpret them, and place them in their wider historical context; third, to enable pupils to reconstruct the lives of the people associated with a settlement at a particular period or periods in the past; and finally, to construct pupils interest in exploring the environment's history which they will find a rewarding leisure pursuit as a school student for years to come.

However, the overall mean achievement of 4.62 out of 6.00 for nature shows that the overall tendency to agree with the statements is still not wholly satisfying and could be enhanced. These achievements indicate that there are still some weaknesses in the implementation of the subject in the ICSS Malaysia.

Therefore, judging from the results of the study, there is firstly, a need to inspire pupils to be more sensitive and take part in the development of their surroundings; secondly, a need to clarify to the science schools pupils the meaning and importance of history fieldwork, in order to inspire them to be more scientifically creative; and thirdly, a need to awaken some of the Malay pupils from the regular schools from their 'aimless dreams' and help them to find objective reasons why people in the past acted as they did.

Another crucial problem, in relations to the teachers' role, is that weaknesses were identified in the implementation of the fieldwork methods. The researcher believed that this was not because of a lack of motivation on the part of the teachers, but rather a lack of exposure, knowledge and skills. They need to employ expertise to solve these problems. In relation to this matter, the researcher strongly recommends that teachers should be given sufficient training in order to equip themselves with the appropriate knowledge and skills about the implementation of fieldwork approaches to history. This should also include the exposure of teachers to the elements associated with effective history curriculum development, according to ICSS.

Conclusion

It can be concluded that the perceptions of pupils on fieldwork approaches to history in the ICSS were highly positive. The study reveals that fieldwork approaches give pupils an opportunity to identify differences between past and present. The teaching and learning of history through fieldwork can expose pupils to various kinds of historical sources from the simplest and nearest to the more complex and abstract with activities set by the teacher to help pupils understand further. Perhaps, capturing the pupils' interest by using stimulating sources should be implemented as the fundamental stage followed by discovery learning for important sources. This would enable pupils to acquire knowledge, develop a mastery of skills and be able to use them in daily life, which also can develop and enhance pupils' intellectual capacity with respect to rational, critical and creative thinking. Fieldwork in history assigns to pupils the task of judging the past, and of instructing the present for the benefit of the coming era (in order to develop the abilities and faculties necessary for the betterment of themselves and society). This is in accordance with the statement that history is about the past teaching by example, inspiring people in the present and pointing them in the right direction for the future.

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