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  • EZ Research Monographs VOL. 2 2011120

    Igniting Pupils Enthusiasm in Learning Science through C.A.M.P.

    Kay Cheng Hong

    Casuarina Primary School

    Abstract

    This paper looks at effectiveness of an approach, Learning Science through C.A.M.P. This approach focuses on helping less academically inclined pupils develop an enthusiasm and positive attitude towards the learning of science. This four-pronged approach is specially designed to accommodate and capitalise on pupils learning strengths; Visual, Auditory and Tactile/Kinesthetic. The approach is summarised with the acronym C. A. M. P. which denotes Concept cartoons, Actions cheers, Mindmaps and Puppets. This approach was first piloted in a primary five class for two consecutive years. Due to its observable positive impact on both the pupils and teacher, the approach was then formally carried out as an action research study in a number of primary three, four and five classes in the subsequent year.

    Introduction

    Todays diverse pupils population has resulted in teachers seeking changes in traditional methods of instructing their pupils. The traditional method whereby pupils are regarded as having knowledge holes that need to be filled with information could no longer appeal to the 21st century pupils within our classrooms. This has resulted in a shift in pedagogy in which more pupil-centred approaches are employed to help motivate pupils to learn and increase their excitement and engagement in the learning process. Besides that, there is also a need for pupils to see the relevance of their learning in their everyday living.

    In my years of experience of teaching science, I discovered that pupils who were less academically inclined had little motivation in learning science. This could be due to the difficulties they encountered in understanding and applying relevant science concepts to the questions posed in the examination. As a result of their lack of understanding of the subject, they were not able to achieve good grades in the Science examination. In order to help my pupils regain confidence and develop enthusiasm in science, a four-pronged approach, based on different pupils learning styles was developed. The underpinning theoretical basis of this approach is that, pupils learn in different ways, like seeing, hearing, and experiencing things first hand. (Fleming, 2001) Some pupils remember written facts they have seen, some remember things they have heard, while others remember things they have experienced. While most pupils without any disabilities can learn using any one of these styles, most of them have one for which they show a preference or predisposition to perceive and process information in a particular way or combination of ways (Sarasin, 1998). By using a variety of teaching methods to accommodate different learning styles, teachers will be able to challenge pupils to learn in different ways.

    Kolb also suggested that pupils who were able to learn through a variety of ways were more effective learners. (Kolb, 1994). Therefore, individual learning styles made identical classroom instructional

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    approach effective for some students and ineffective for others. Research had also shown that students also scored higher on tests, had better attitudes, and were more efficient if they were taught in ways to which they could more easily relate (Dunn & Dunn, 1992). Although learning styles would inevitably differ among students in the classroom, Dunn and Dunn proposed that teachers should try to make changes in their classroom that would be beneficial to every child with different learning style.

    Action Research Cycle OneUnderstanding C.A.M.P. Approach

    The majority of the weaker pupils in my primary five classes were not very motivated to learn science. During typical science lessons, the pupils would just wait for me to provide them with the correct answers to the questions in the workbook or worksheets. Acknowledging that this was not the ideal approach to inculcate an inquiry mind towards the learning of science, I decided that something must be done to the way science was been taught to pupils in the weaker classes.

    Having the advantage of been sent by the Curriculum Planning and Development Division (CPDD) of the Ministry of Education to be trained in the United Kingdom on the use of puppets and concept cartoons in the teaching of science in 2008, I specially designed a four-pronged approach on the teaching of science based on learning styles. It was hoped that the approach could help pupils relate the concepts learnt in their science lessons to their lives. In that way, they would naturally develop curiosity and enthusiasm to find out more about science. Fuelled by the enthusiasm seen in my pupils towards the C.A.M.P. approach, I was determined to recommend and implement this approach to other weaker classes in the school. Thus, a formal action research study was carried out to investigate the benefits of such an approach.

    The research aimed to find out how the introduction of differentiated teaching strategies based on pupils learning styles could ignite pupils enthusiasm in learning science and whether such an approach could improve pupils performance in science examinations.

    The approach was summarised with the acronym C.A.M.P. which denotes Concept cartoons, Action cheers, Mind maps and Puppets.

    Concept cartoons are visually stimulating and they serve as effective tools to capture the attention and interest of pupils who are visual learners. They serve as good visual tool to stimulate and develop scientific thinking and promote peer discussion. They are designed to probe understanding and the situations presented in the concept cartoons do not warrant a single right answer. In most cases, the reasonable conclusions are It depends on This reinforces in pupils that in any scientific investigation, there are many variables that will and might affect the outcome.

    Prompted by this emergent need, I embarked on an action research journey through a series of three action research cycles as described in the following sections. As pointed by Dick (2001), Action Research is both a change methodology and a research methodology within a single process. In this research study, Action Research had helped to bring about change or improvement (the action) in such a way that more understanding was developed as parallel outcome at hand. Action Research also assisted the teachers to pursue understanding (the research) in ways that allowed the action to be based upon a better understanding of the problem situation and the research was achieved by being responsive to the situation and by searching strenuously for disconfirming evidence.

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    Action cheers appeal very much to the kinesthetic learners as the cheers encourage them to use different parts of their body to create movements to enhance memorisation of science facts and concepts in a fun way. The cheers are fun and yet educational. Pupils are also challenged to create cheers based on topics that they have learnt before. They have to use different body actions to enhance the meaning of the cheers. The pupils are to recite the science action cheers at the beginning of each science lesson as a form of recapitulating what they have learnt in the previous topics.

    Mind maps are, by definition, a graphical method of taking notes. Their visual basis helps one to distinguish words or ideas, often with colors and symbols. Mind maps help pupils who are more inclined to visual stimulation to capture and organize science concepts. This approach is highly effective for pupils who are visual learners as colorful diagrams are used to represent scientific facts surrounding a key concept. It allows pupils to classify science concepts into different categories. Mind maps that are completed can be displayed on the classroom walls. This helps pupils develop a sense of achievement as they see their work being recognized by their peers and teachers.

    Action Research Cycle TwoIntervention in Science Lessons

    The pupils in my school were streamed according to their academic performance at the end of primary two, three and four. In line with the school science department work plan to level up the learning of science among the weaker pupils, the differentiated teaching approach was introduced to pupils in the two tail-end classes across the three levels mentioned above. Before the intervention was carried out, teachers mostly taught the pupils using traditional teaching method, intermittent with hands-on activities suggested in the science workbook. Besides that, the science textbook was used as a main source of information for both the pupils and teachers. Teachers also taught pupils to answer questions in the process skills worksheets.

    I started using the C.A.M.P. strategies in 2008 with my classes of twenty eight primary five pupils who were weak in their studies. Even though the strategies were introduced gradually to the class, I noticed that the pupils had developed a genuine keenness in learning science as compared to the year before. The strategies were repeated with increased consistency in 2009, the year whereby pupils were preparing to sit for their Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE). A video production of

    Puppets are friends that challenges pupils views on science concepts. They are also tools for pupils to develop an inquiry mind as they interact with the puppets. Puppets in role