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The intentions of this research study were to investigate how Information Communications Technology (ICT) can enhance the teaching and learning of Trigonometry at Sixth Form Level, to investigate any correlation between having done Additional Mathematics in the O-Levels and the results obtained from the tests, to investigate any correlation between students' gender and the students' achievement, and to investigate the problems faced by students regarding Trigonometry.
The study focused on the teaching and learning of Trigonometry using ICT tools and ICT-based activities. The ICT-based intervention aimed to develop and reinforce the students' understanding of trigonometric concepts either algebraically, geometrically or graphically. The student-centered lessons designed for this intervention process included activities using a dynamic geometry software and other online software which can help enhance students' conceptual learning.
Rationale of this Study
Current Issue: ICT in Education
Brunei Darussalam's National Vision (Wawasan Brunei 2035) has the aims of redefining Brunei Darussalam as a nation recognized for the accomplishments of its educated and highly skilled people as measured by the highest standards and one of the top 10 nations in the world with a dynamic and sustainable economy that offers a high quality of life.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) has made several educational changes through the implementation of the National Educational System for the 21st Century or "Sistem Pendidikan Negara Abad Ke-21 (SPN21)". In line with the National Vision, SPN21 aims to equip students with 21st Century Skills, emphasizing the implementation of Information Communications Technology (ICT) to enhance teaching and learning in real classrooms.
During the Executive Development Workshop on Inspiring Change (2009), Hj Abd Rahim Derus, Acting Director of ICT Department at MoE, stated that despite the huge amounts of money invested by the MoE, teachers were still not utilizing ICT in their teaching and learning. The Acting Director added that there was a lack of students using ICT for school work such as group presentations and co-curricular activities. He attributed the above statement to the inadequate teacher training in the implementation of ICT for teaching and learning purposes, in addition to the slow supply of ICT equipment due to the procedural issues that suppliers faced.
Hj Abd Rahim Derus, Director of ICT Department at MoE, (BICET 2012) pointed out the importance of keeping a balance between direct teaching and making use of technology in teaching. He defined such a practice as "Blended Learning". He emphasized the importance of students' social interaction and collaboration with their peers and teachers in school through the use of technology. National Manager of Expanding Learning Horizons, Travis Smith (BICET 2012) supported the Director's statement and added that teachers have to be mindful on the how and when of implementing ICT into their teaching.
Based on my years' experience of teaching Advanced Level Mathematics at Sekolah Menengah Sayyidina Othman, students' achievements have been inconsistent. Students are unable to perform to the minimum standards when it comes to the real examinations even with extra help and guidance. I have questioned myself regarding the possible causes such as methodology used, pace of lessons, student's learning ability, and have adjusted my teaching to hopefully improve the results over the years of teaching.
What has come to mind is that "What if ICT was implemented into the teaching... Would it help the students to better understand with the delivery of the lesson?"
The topic chosen for this research study was Trigonometry. Through years of teaching the topic, I have observed that Trigonometry has caused problems amongst the students and contributed to the low achievements in Mathematics as a whole.
Students have difficulty in remembering the trigonometric ratios of special angles, correctly drawing the graphs of trigonometric functions, solving trigonometric equations, remembering trigonometric identities and hence, are unable to correctly prove certain trigonometric identities.
Students have learned most of the topics in the syllabus by formula and rote learning. Teachers still practice the "drilling method" of teaching in schools. Without understanding the concepts, students are unable to apply the correct formula, draw graphs correctly and end up not getting the correct solutions (Lu, 2008).
Rosney (2008) highlighted that the majority of students affected by the problem were the weaker students. This was due to their inability to cope with the techniques used because relational understanding was not emphasized during the delivery of the lesson.
The implementation of ICT into teaching is no easy task for teachers, especially with Brunei's education system being examination-oriented. Teachers' lack of initiative and confidence in using ICT as part of their teaching, are two of the main reasons as to why there is a minimal amount of ICT-based school work done in classrooms.
This study is carried out to investigate the teaching and learning of Advanced Level Trigonometry through Discovery Learning with the implementation of ICT. The following research questions guided this study:
To what extent does learning Trigonometry with ICT-enhanced activities improve students' achievements in Trigonometry?
Is there a correlation between having done Additional Mathematics at O-Levels and students' achievement in the learning of Trigonometry?
Is there a correlation between gender and students' achievement in the learning of Trigonometry?
What are the problems / difficulties encountered by students in the learning and understanding of Trigonometry?
Significance of the Study
Teachers' Professional Development
Susilawati (2004) pointed out that lack of expertise in using ICT, unfamiliar pedagogical practices and lack of direct accessibilities to ICT contributed the main reasons why teachers avoided implementing ICT into their teaching. She found that teachers believed that teaching in an exam-oriented education system does not allow enough time to stray away from the traditional methods of teaching.
This study will hopefully offer teachers an alternative solution in teaching Trigonometry using ICT tools that are readily available. Students' understanding and performance in the topic will also be assessed during the course of the research. Obtaining positive results will hopefully trigger the button of some teachers which will entice them to start the implementation of ICT in their teachings in the future.
Trigonometry involves conceptual understanding and multiple representations such as geometrical, algebraic and graphical. Most students have struggled with most of the concepts which include the students who possessed Additional Mathematics knowledge.
The research study will involve instructional strategies and tools which will help students to better understand and grasp the trigonometric concepts. This will hopefully improve the students' achievements in the future.
There were various limitations that arose during the course of this research which will be briefly explained below.
Time constraints were one of the main factors of the research. There were different problems regarding time that could affect the outcomes of the research study. These problems included time factors arising from technical breakdowns, waste of time in setting up the lesson, punctuality of students for the lessons, interruptions during lesson by announcements or assemblies etc.
In addition to the above reasons, the short duration of intervention and limitations that arose because students have both to master the software and learn during this short intervention.
Lack of Facilities
The chosen school was a brand new Sixth Form Centre in Brunei Darussalam. There was a lack of facilities during the time of intervention, including the lack of availability of computers in the computer lab and lack of internet connection. The above limitations have to be considered and addressed with importance by informing and reminding the students to bring their laptops to class.
Some students did not have any laptops of their own due to family's situation as a number of them came from low income families. These students had no choice but to perform the tasks by sharing their friends' laptops.
Lack of Support
Having full support from both the school's administrative team in giving permission for the research to be carried out in the school as well as from the cooperating teacher were very important in determining the success of the research. In addition to that, getting the cooperation and support from the students also played an important part in the success of the lessons.
Lack of Educational Research Articles
Having to search for research articles related to the topic of study proved to be a very challenging problem. This was because there were very few studies available done locally, and the library had limited resources on similar research studies done regionally. So the only source possible to gather information on such research studies was the Internet. Even with the huge amount of resources available over the Internet, there were a few issues faced along the way, one of which that the majority of the research articles needed to be paid for. Another issue was the authenticity and validity of the articles.
Lack of Knowledge
Getting comfortable with the software was necessary before implementing and introducing it to the students. Students' adaptability to the new software was seen to have caused problems during the lesson. It was observed that some students did not practice using the software during their personal time, as they could not perform the activity tasks smoothly without having to refer back to the guidebook at most times.
Students' interest in the subject matter also played an important role in the success of the research. It could be seen during the lesson implementations using ICT, some of the students were not paying full attention to what was being presented. Some were seen to be engaged in other activities of their own such as accessing their Facebook accounts, taking photos with their friends, playing games and so on.
With the assumption that there is an estimated 5000 students currently studying in the Lower Six in the country, the sample size of 82 students used in the research accounted for only about 1.64% of the total population. The sample size chosen for this research is small, may be unrepresentative, and cannot be used to provide general implications for the whole country.
Students' Level of Mathematics Knowledge
The classes chosen to be part of the research study needed to be of similar background knowledge. Otherwise, the results obtained will not be as reliable to conclude the research.
This chapter has introduced some of the current issues of the implementation of ICT in Education. The Ministry of Education, through the National Education System for the 21st Century, emphasized on enhancing teaching and learning in real classroom using ICT. Representative from the ICT department in MoE stressed on the lack of ICT implementation in classrooms despite huge investments have been made. There should also be a balance between direct teaching and using ICT in teaching.
It was explained that the main goal of the research study that was to create an effective ICT-based teaching and learning experience for Sixth Form students in the Advanced Level on the topic of Trigonometry.
The chapter has stated the four research questions which have guided the research study to gather information regarding the use of ICT-based activities in enhancing students' achievement, investigate any correlation between having done Additional Mathematics at O-Levels and students' achievements, investigate any correlation between students' gender and the achievements and finally to find out any difficulties or problems that students may have faced during the intervention period.
The significance of the study was to provide teachers with an alternative solution in teaching Trigonometry using ICT tools that were readily available, and hopefully trigger teachers to try implementing ICT into their teaching.
Limitations of the study were also discussed in this chapter which included time constraints, lack of facilities in the sample school, lack of support from the chosen school as well as the students, limited educational research articles that were available, lack of knowledge, students' interest in the lessons, the small sample size that was chosen and the students' level of Mathematics knowledge.