Meaningful Learning and Rote Learning in Physics: A ...· Meaningful Learning and Rote Learning in

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  • Middle Eastern & African Journal of Educational Research, Issue 6

    Year 2013

    60

    Meaningful Learning and Rote Learning in Physics: A

    comparative Study in city Jhelum (Pakistan)

    Dr. Muhammad Safdar

    Vice Principal, Islamabad Model College for Boys, G-6/2, Islamabad (Pakistan).

    safdarpkpk@yahoo.com

    00923225864625

    Abstract

    The work reported here is an empirical investigation to compare the students

    achievement of the secondary school science students taught through meaningful

    learning approach and the rote learning approach in Pakistan. This experimental

    work was carried out on sixty-two science students for the period of one academic

    year in the physics classroom and laboratory. Two Experimenters tools and the

    public examination conducted by the Educational Board were used to measure the

    achievement of the students in the physics theory and practical. It has been found in

    various significant indications that the Ausubelian approach of teaching physics has

    improved the performance of the students. The other significant factor in the

    learning process is the persistent increase in the standard deviations for the

    experimental group which suggests that not all students benefited equally. This

    gives rise to another area cognitive learning styles that should be explored. The

    analysis of data revealed evidence for a major role of relevant cognitive structure in

    meaningful learning. The findings of this study provide qualified support to

    Ausubel's teaching approach of meaningful learning.

    Key words

    Meaningful learning, rote learning, learning style, cognitive structure

  • Middle Eastern & African Journal of Educational Research, Issue 6

    Year 2013

    61

    Introduction

    It is universally acknowledged that any attempt at the improvement in the quality of science

    education ultimately depends on the quality of teaching and learning in the classrooms and

    laboratories. Literature on science education reflects that science education is the core area of

    any education system in the world and same is the situation in Pakistan. Science education

    provides us an opportunity to think critically, and unify the concepts of mans natural

    environment and apply these concepts to the control of the environment for mans benefit.

    Further, more it is a human enterprise, which requires mans best efforts to sustain it at an

    optimum level of productivity.

    At secondary level, science education provides the students with opportunities to think

    critically, practice different teaching methods and develop scientific concepts, which

    facilitate the understanding of the physical environment. Effective classroom teaching in

    science requires advance thinking and proper planning. Certain points like objectives,

    content, teaching methods, teaching aids, evaluation techniques are required to be attended

    to properly in advance for achieving desired outcomes. A good teacher provides guidance

    for the learner. The guidance encourages the learner to do things that result in desired

    learning. Hence, it is said that teaching creates conditions, which encourage and stimulate

    learning.

    In Pakistan, much teaching (which can be described as traditional) is based on teacher-

    centered, lecture presentations to students where the role of the learners is the recording of

    what the teacher says and its accurate memorization. Credit is given to the correct recall of

    as much as possible in formal tests and examinations. This approach does not occur in all

    countries and education systems but is a particular feature of much Pakistani education and

    in many other countries of the world.

    Traditional teaching methods are fine for remembering sequences of objects but do not aid

    the learner in understanding the relationships between the objects. Meaningful learning,

    therefore, is personal, idiosyncratic and involves recognition of the links between concepts.

    In the traditional teaching the teachers main focus is on memorization (rote learning).

    According to Vadidya, (1996), rote learning is not meaningful in the process of

    internalization. It is arbitrary and verbatim in nature. It stays close to the cognitive structure

    of the learner but do not get integrated there. Hence as a result the learner exhibits a non-

    successful learning set.

    Both rote and meaningful learning may be achieved no matter what instructional strategy is

    used (Novak and Gowin, 1984). Either reception learning (passive listener with teacher-

    directed agenda) or discovery learning (active learning where the learner chooses

    information to be learned) may result in meaningful learning. Therefore, it is not necessarily

    how information is presented but how the new information is integrated into the old

    knowledge structure.

    Basic sciences must include the mastery of concepts instead of mere memorization and the

    following of procedures. It must include an understanding of how to make the learning

  • Middle Eastern & African Journal of Educational Research, Issue 6

    Year 2013

    62

    material meaningful and to use the scientific equipments in the laboratory to arrive

    meaningfully at solutions to problems, to verify laws, principles.

    In Pakistan, the curriculum wing, Ministry of Education sets standards for more emphasis

    on understanding of concepts, their logical arrangement, critical thinking and

    communication over recall of facts. In many fields such as mathematics and science it is still

    a matter of controversy as to whether rote memorization of facts is still necessary. Some

    educationists who are in favour of new standards are revisiting in response to sharp

    criticism from those who believe future generations should learn at least as much knowledge

    as previous generations have been taught, rather than just "how to think". It is countered that

    thinking skills alone will not be useful without a base of memorized facts.

    Ausubel (1966) says that Meaningful learning takes place if the learning task is related in a

    non-arbitrary and non-verbatim fashion to the learners existing cognitive structure.

    Ausubel believes that learning should progress deductively from the general to the

    specific, and not inductively, as Bruner recommended (from specific to general).He supports

    the use of direct instructional methods (lecture), and argues that large bodies of knowledge

    are best obtained through this type of learning.

    Direct instructional methods are much more than lecture. It can involve worksheets,

    textbooks, and websites as well as teaching with questioning. The key thing is that the

    instruction is directed by the teacher. This theory can help teachers as;

    We need to remember that inputs to learning are important.

    Learning materials should be well organized.

    New ideas and concepts must be potentially meaningful to the learner.

    Anchoring new concepts into the learners already existing cognitive structure will make the

    new concepts recallable.

    Ausubel (1960), proposed his expository teaching model to encourage meaningful learning

    rather than rote reception learning. In his approach to learning, teacher presents material in

    the carefully organized sequenced and finished form. Students receive the most usable

    material in the most efficient way. It is most appropriate when we want to teach about the

    relationships among several concepts. Another consideration is the age of the students. This

    approach requires students to manipulate abstract ideas; this means expository teaching is

    more developmentally appropriate for students of elementary and secondary stages.

    Traditional teaching methods view teaching as a management procedure involving

    controlling the stimuli to which students are exposed and rewards they receive for learning.

    Johnson, (1979) expresses the views that what can be directly observed is important, and

    through using environmental stimuli and rewards to condition students, anything can be

    learned. In the traditional teaching the teachers main focus is on memorization (rote

    learning). According to Vadidya, (1996), rote learning is not meaningful in the process of

    internalization. It is arbitrary and verbatim in nature. It stays close to the cognitive structure

    of the learner but do not get integrated there. Hence as a result the learner exhibits a non-

    successful learning set.

  • Middle Eastern & African Journal of Educational Research, Issue 6

    Year 2013

    63

    The advocates of traditional methods argue that rote learning is the only way to learn

    material in a timely manner. For example, when learning the English alphabet, the

    vocabulary of a foreign (second or third) language, there is no inner structure or their inner

    complexity is too subtle to be learned explicitly in a short time.

    Brevity is not always the case with rote learning. For example, many Muslims learn by heart

    and can recite the whole Holy Quran. Their ability to do so can be attributed, at least in some

    part, to having been assimilated by rote learning. Rote learning is prevalent in many

    religious schools throughout the world. For example, Jewish use this approach when

    teaching children Torah and Muslim Madrasas utilize it in teaching of Holy Quran. It