Educational practice and learning environments in rural and urban lower secondary science classrooms in Kalimantan Selatan, Indonesia
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This study investigated the educational practices and learning outcomes in rural and urban lower secondary school science classrooms of Kalimantan Selatan, Indonesia. Guided by six research questions, this study focused on curriculum implementation and its association with the existing working and learning environment, learning process and learning outcomes. The investigations were conducted in two stages and used two research methods. The classroom learning environment and school level environment were investigated at the first stage using the questionnaire survey as a research method. The questionnaires were developed and validated with a sample of 1188 Year 9 students and their teachers in 16 schools. Validation of the questionnaire confirmed that the Indonesian version of the modified WMIC is a valid and reliable instrument to measure the classroom learning environment in the Indonesian educational context. The results regarding the status of the classroom learning environment are summarised in four assertions. First, students tended to prefer a more favourable classroom learning environment than the one they actually experienced. Second, female students generally held slightly more positive perceptions of both actual and preferred learning environments. Third, students in rural schools experienced a less positive learning environment than did their counterparts in urban areas. Fourth, teachers’ perceptions were more favourable than their students on both the actual and preferred learning environment for all seven scales, except on Task Orientation in which their perceptions were matched. This study also confirmed that the Indonesian version of SLEQ, administered to relatively small number of respondents, has gained in merit as a good instrument.Each scale of the Indonesian SLEQ has acceptable internal consistency reliability and was able to differentiate between the perceptions of teachers in different schools. Further analysis indicated differences between perceptions of school environments of biology and physics teachers and of rural and urban school teachers, particularly on Resources Adequacy. This study also indicated the differences between teachers’ views of the actual and preferred school environments in which the differences are not only statistically but also practically significant. It is suggested that research for improving school environments, by matching teachers’ actual and preferred perceptions, is noteworthy and more research needs to be conducted. The second stage of this study explored the existing science curriculum documents, teachers’ perceptions of the science curriculum, the implementation of science curriculum in the classrooms, and the students’ outcomes in school science. In lower secondary school, science is compulsory for all students of all Year levels, and is aimed to introduce the students to the basic concepts of scientific knowledge and to emphasize the use of tools and equipment during laboratory observations. Science in the lower secondary school consists of physics and biology subjects that were taught separately, but were given the same amount of classroom periods per week. The content was organized into themes or topics. Despite the content to be taught, the development of students’ process skills and students’ attitudes towards science and the environment were also emphasized.The suggested teaching approaches included the conceptual approach, the problem-solving approach, the inductive-deductive approach and the environmental approach, whereas the suggested teaching methods in science classroom are the experimental method, the demonstration method, the discussion method, the excursion method and the lecturing method. The evaluation and assessment sections of the curriculum documents expected science teachers to systematically and continuously assess the students. Three techniques were suggested to conduct evaluation in the science classroom, which included paper and pencil tests, verbal evaluations, and practical tests. Science teachers and superintendents possessed different perceptions of the science curriculum as expressed in their preferences towards curriculum metaphors. The metaphor ‘Curriculum as Content or as Subject Matter’ was a view perceived by three teachers. ‘Curriculum as intended learning outcome’ was the second metaphor preferred by two teachers, who hold this view for different reasons. In contrast, two superintendents expressed their most preference on the metaphors ‘Curriculum as discrete task and concepts’ and ‘Curriculum as programme planned activity’, respectively. Investigation of the implementation of the science curriculum in the classrooms confirmed that science-teaching practices in urban lower secondary schools was in agreement with those suggested in the curriculum documents.Science teachers in urban schools tended to use a variety of teaching methods, employed good questioning techniques, provided clear explanations and had high outcomes expectation, and maintained effective classroom management. On the other hand, to some extend science teaching practice in the rural lower secondary schools was not as expected in the curriculum document. Mostly, teachers in rural schools tended to use traditional chalk-and-talk teaching methods, employed a limited questioning techniques, had relatively unclear outcomes expectation, and performed less effective classroom management skills. With regard to students’ outcomes, this study showed less favourable results. Students’ attitudinal outcomes, which were measured by the Indonesian version of adapted TOSRA, were not maximised, and students’ cognitive outcomes are disappointing. The mean scores on the national wide examination, which is 5.46 out of possible maximum score of 10.00, indicated the poor performance of students in learning School Science. No statistically significantly differences were found on attitudinal outcomes between rural and urban and between male and female students’ perceptions. However, the study identified that students’ cognitive scores were statistically significantly different between rural and urban schools. Students in urban schools scored higher in the examination than did their counterparts in rural schools. The study found association between students’ outcomes and the status of classroom learning environments. Both simple analysis and multiple regression analysis procedures showed that all scales of the Indonesian WMIC were statistically significantly associated with two scales of the Indonesian adapted TOSRA and students’ cognitive scores.
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