Overview Of Cycle One And Two Education Essay

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INTRODUCTION

The education system in Brunei Darussalam has been reformed to fulfil the Ministry of Education's mission and vision in providing students with profitable knowledge, language proficiencies and multi talented skills. Teachers are expected to substitute the concept of rote learning and drilling methods with improved teaching methods and learning environment so that students, rather than being informingly absorbent, will be able to retain the lesson longer. Besides, the Ministry of Education is also aiming to raise the number of students enrolling into higher institutions along with a better standard in achievement from all four compulsory subjects; Bahasa Melayu, English Language, Mathematics and Science (Ministry Of Education, 2008).

With these rationales, the Ministry of Education has officially begun the interim stage of 'Sistem Pendidikan Negara Abad ke-21 '(SPN 21) or 'The National Education System for the 21st Century' in the year 2008 for the new students enrolling in Year 7. Changes were made in stages and both educational structure [1] and the curriculum was also affected. The curriculum under the SPN21 now promotes variety of teaching practices and learning in class. According to the Ministry of Education, students should be equipped with the 21st century skills (Ministry Of Education, 2008). This contributes to one of the major encouragement in implementing the use of technologies in a lesson.

ICT in Brunei

Many efforts have been made to emphasize the integration of technologies in teaching practice and learning in a classroom. Billions of dollars have been funded to schools to ensure that the use of technology is being implemented in Bruneian schools. Computers, Smart Boards, Graphic Calculators and even wireless internet are few examples of what have been provided and fully subsidized by the Brunei Government to each school.

A further major step has been made to accelerate this purpose. As of February 2011, the Ministry of Education has launched e-Hijrah and planned a six year strategy to fully transform the education style in Brunei Darussalam. This six years plan includes stakeholders and teachers' workshop and training to "develop practical and hands-on skills and approaches to developing an ICT (Information and Communications Technology) mindset and culture" (Ministry Of Education, 2011, para. 3).

E-Hijrah, an Arabic word that means 'moving forward', expects to support the country's aspiration 'Wawasan 2035' whereby "citizens must possess a wide array of ICT skills and be effective users of ICT within all facets of their lives" (Ministry Of Education, 2011, para. 1). To achieve this, teachers, who are role models to their students should all be computer literate and be able to integrate the use of ICT in their lesson as urged by the Ministry of Education (2011) in the e-Hijrah website, "To maximize the impact of ICT in education requires changing mindsets about education, including the role of teachers, the way we design and implement curriculum, and the processes by which we manage schools and administer national education" (para. 2).

Learning Study

According to Elliot (2005), to create an impact on the students, teachers are accountable in designing a lesson that should practically involve students' learning experience. The experiences gain in a lesson should be cognitively active and suits the objectives of the curriculum. The design of the lesson is such that teachers plan the lesson collaboratively and modify it after each cycle through peer observation. The on-going process is called 'Learning Study'. Elliot (2005) further adds in his article that Learning Study is about exploring new kinds of pedagogical goals and should focus more on learning rather than teaching.

Learning Study in Brunei has become part of the curriculum assigned by the Ministry of Education to be carried out by teachers in the secondary schools. The process is quite similar to that being described as before. A particular sub-topic is chosen by a group of teachers. Research lesson which includes planning the lesson and its content is designed by these teachers. For the first cycle, one of them will teach in his or her respective class. Colleagues who are involved in this Learning Study will observe the lesson. Pre-test is given to students before the actual lesson is carried out and post meeting will be held as soon as the post test is administered. The discussion among the teachers in the post meeting will later on decide whether the research lesson should be modified or not. If the result is still unsatisfactory, then the process will have to be repeated for the second cycle but with a different teacher and a different set of students (see Figure 1).

Pre-Meeting:

Design Teaching Plan

Pre-Test

Post-Meeting

Evaluation and Modification

Implementing Research lesson

Post-Test

Teaching Cycles

Figure 1. The Learning Study cycle in Brunei

Overview of Cycle One and Two

Two cycles for the topic 'Conversion of Travel Graphs' were carried out in the year 2011. All stages were followed in order as shown in Figure 1 above. The first activity was designed following the teaching strategies by Ai Ling (2010) on Conversion of Travel Graphs. She posted the video on conversion of speed-time graph to distance-time graph in her blog singaporeolevelmaths.com. Appendix A shows all three pages of this first activity. Meanwhile, the second activity was designed as an application of their conceptual understanding from the first activity into an actual graph (refer to Appendix B). This activity looked further into applying their previous lesson on 'Area under the Graph' to calculate the distance covered by the object while the first focused on finding mainly the gradient of the curves.

In Cycle One, 19 Year 9 students who are in the Science stream [2] were involved. During the observation made in Cycle One, it was found that students had difficulty in noticing the changes of their gradient results for the last three graphs, labelled as Graph C, D and E, as they had no other gradient to compare with. These were then modified using similar steps used in Graph A and B as shown in Appendix C. More sub-questions were added to the last question in the second activity. This is because students had failed to write down the distance covered for the object's journey on the y-axis. Therefore, to make sure that students were guided into this, questions on calculation of distance travelled at each specific time interval were added as shown in Appendix D.

In Cycle Two, two Year 9 classes with different abilities were involved: 12 students from the express [3] class and 14 from the low achievers attended the lesson and sat for both pre-test and post-test. Two lessons were used to conduct the research lesson to the express class whereas four lessons were carried out for the low achievers class. It was found during observation of the lesson, after modification, that the activities were easily understood by the low achievers. Even more, the express students were able to grasp the concept quickly than the science students. This showed that the modification of the lesson in Cycle Two was more effective in enhancing the students' understanding on the basic concept of Conversion of Travel Graphs.

Despite the differences in the students' pace of conceptual understanding, an overall result for all three classes showed an improvement in their post-test when compared to the pre-test scores. From the post-test analysis, it was found that students were more aware of the changes of the curve from speed-time graph to distance-time graph. It was perceived that the activities designed in this Learning Study may be helpful in developing students' understanding.

Background of the Study

The study that I have proposed for this research is a continuation of the Learning Study that I have started in 2011. This study will focus more on Cycle Three but will be related to the other two cycles for a slight comparison on findings in Chapter Four. Issues related to the study will be discussed briefly in this section.

Conversion of Travel Graphs

The Learning Study related to this research exercise is using a subtopic on Travel Graphs (refer to Appendix E for a detailed content coverage on Travel Graphs) entitled 'Conversion of Travel Graphs' which focus on converting speed-time graphs to distance-time graphs and from distance-time graph to speed-time graphs. Students should have learnt the topics listed below as part of their prerequisite:

Gradient of a straight line.

Graph of functions.

Area of polygons (specifically on squares, rectangles, triangles and trapeziums).

The reason behind this chosen topic is because generally students are found to have a difficulty in converting the speed-time graph to distance-time graph and vice versa. Whether in the class or during an exam, students either skipped the question or answered by sketching similar lines to that of the given travel graphs. As agreed by the Mathematics department's members in the previous school that I had taught (hereafter will be referred as School X), this misconception should be rectified and hence, the selection of this topic for our Learning Study. Furthermore, the first two cycles for this particular topic began in 2011. Since Learning Study is an on-going project by the Ministry of Education, members involved agreed to continue this topic in 2012 but with a different approach.

The Use of ICT

Even though we are approaching a new era of e-Hijrah, as far as is known, the use of ICT is still lacking in schools. Despite the fact that billions of dollars have been invested, not all teachers are fully committed in supporting the rationale of e-Hijrah just yet. The pressure of finishing the syllabus on time (Krestina, 2008) has always been a major excuse used by teachers and to add further, designing an interactive lesson is assumed to take a longer time to plan.

Purpose and Significance of the Study

The main aim for this chosen study is targeted to teachers' development in teaching and students' development in their learning. The purpose is to enhance students' understanding on a mathematical concept with the integration of ICT in a Learning Study and to shift teachers away from the traditional methods of teaching to a more systematic and meaningful learning through the work of collaboration between colleagues. One might agree that students will benefit more from meaningful learning as it exposes them to different types of skills such as ICT skills, problem solving, communication skills and many more which will be useful in their future undertakings. Furthermore, students will have the advantage of applying the concept of Conversion of Travel Graphs to subjects like Additional Mathematics and Physics and even apply them in real life context.

Apart from that, the primary purpose of the study is to discover teachers' perceptions on Learning Study and ICT and to investigate the impact of technology on students' understanding on Conversion of Travel Graphs. Students' misconceptions are also sought into in this study. The plan for this research is to do an intervention by adopting the research lesson from the Learning Study that was designed and conducted in the year 2011 in School X. This is going to be in it's third cycle and will target on its impact on the topic chosen.

It is expected that with the above purposes, teachers will benefit the outcomes of the study. The process of designing and modifying the research lesson in Learning Study helps to develop the collaboration between teachers and improve the standard of the lesson content to a more cognitive approach. Teachers will be able to use the instruments used in this research as a base in assessing their students when teaching the respective topic. Additionally, teachers will help to promote technology exposure to the students by involuntarily teaching students to the use of free software from the internet.

Research Questions

As described from the above purposes, it can be deduced that the study will primarily focus on students' performance and teachers' perceptions on ICT and Learning Study. The three research questions for this study will concentrate on these interrelated aspects and they are:

What is the impact of integrating ICT in a Learning Study context on students' performance on Conversion of Travel Graphs? (hereafter will be referred as RQ1)

What are the students' misconceptions after the intervention takes place? (hereafter will be referred as RQ2)

What are the teachers' views on Learning Study and on the integration of ICT in a Learning Study? (hereafter will be referred as RQ3)

Scope and Limitations of the Study

The topic Conversion of Travel Graphs is specifically to be taught to all Year 9 students who are taking GCE O' Level Examination. This topic will be taught towards the end of the whole lesson on Travel Graphs (refer to Appendix E) after all of the contents on applying formulas, drawing and interpreting graphs and reviewing gradients are fully covered. In addition to this, Year 9 students should be taught two prerequisite topics beforehand, Coordinate Geometry and Graphs of Functions, both of which are the topics to be covered in the same year. This makes the topic to be delivered probably before the school's third term break. The time for all this is around early or late August. This will slightly delay the intervention.

The study will focus on a small number of samples only. Students chosen are of both high and medium achievers. This is because the research lessons will take at least three lessons. Each lesson will take approximately one hour. Students considered as medium to low achievers are not selected. It is thought that it will affect the subject teacher's schedule in following his or her scheme of work. Medium to low achievers are thought to require more time in terms of scaffolding the lesson to them.

Another expected limitation will be on the issue of students' absentees. Students' absence will reduce the small number of students that are to be assessed. This in turn will lower the number of students participating in this study. The result may also be affected due to the Hawthorne effect. Students may act differently under the influence of observation by the teachers involved in the Learning Study. According to Draper (2010), Hawthorne effect is an experimental effect where any positive significant effect has no actual causal basis only because the participants know that they are being studied.

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