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RESEARCH TITLE An Examination on Teachers Perceptions of Students Readiness for Learning Primary Science

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background Introduction

Learning primary science includes the acquisition of cognitive skills such as science process skills and it goes beyond just scientific knowledge acquisition. Gagne (1963) views science process skills as the foundation for scientific inquiry, and knowledge is developed inductively from sensory experience. These skills consist of basic and integrated science process skills. The Malaysian Primary Science Syllabus has given due emphasis to the acquisition of both basic and integrated science process skills. There are 12 skills outlined in the syllabus. The skills of observation, classification, measurement and using numbers, time and spatial relationships, making inference, prediction and communication are categorized as the basic science process skills. While the skills of controlling variables, interpreting data, defining operationally, formulating hypotheses and experimentation are categorized as the integrated science process skills. Students readiness is one of the various factors that influence the acquisition of science process skills. Students' readiness is perceived as learner's developmental level of cognitive functioning (Driscoll, 2000). It is the cognitive maturity that is assumed to determine the extent to which learners are capable of learning. Therefore, students' cognitive level should be taken under consideration in teaching students. Ausubel, Novak, and Hanesian (1978) see readiness as a function of previously acquired knowledge. They emphasized that what students already know influences their learning. Readiness in this sense depends on the learner's cognitive structure. What they already know facilitates subsequent learning. Taking this point into consideration, it is important for teachers to know their students' prior knowledge before proceeding on to other lessons. This

case study research aimed to examine the dimensions of students readiness that influence the acquisition of science process skills and its implications to the teaching and learning of primary science as perceived by the Science teachers in the upper level classes in Malaysian primary schools.

1.2

Statement of Problem Learning basic science process skills at the upper primary level which starts at Year

4 requires students to be at the late concrete and formal operation stage according to Piaget's stages of cognitive development (Inhelder & Piaget, 1958). However, majority of the Malaysian primary school students are operating at the concrete operational stage (Palanisamy, 1986) where students will not be able to handle multiple variables. This is due to the fact that concrete thinkers are not cognitively 'ready' to handle multiple variables. In Malaysia, there is also a problem arising in most Science teachers where they are ill equipped with some form of specific training in teaching their students the basic and integrated science process skills. Apparently, in Malaysian primary school, the primary science skills are taught in most cases using the traditional approach and rote learning which stresses on the scientific knowledge acquisition rather than the science process skills. Rote learning and teachercentered teaching approaches have been a common practice in the Malaysian school due to its convenience for the teachers to since they can teach a large amount of information and facts to many students. It is much easier for teachers to drill and focus on cognitive processes and teach facts to students rather than to identify their learning readiness individually and differentiating their teaching instructions (Tomlinson, 2001). To make the situation worse is that some teachers tend to brush aside their students learning readiness during their teaching as they are unaware of the importance of identifying their students readiness as the first step to the development growth for acquiring the science process skills. Due to this, some of the primary students especially the weaker students face problems in acquiring even the basic science process skills. Getting students ready to learn, creating interest by showing the value of the subject matter, and providing continuous 2

mental or physical challenge, is usually the biggest challenge any Science teacher face in the Malaysian primary school. Given these problems faced in the Malaysian primary there was a need to examine the factor that can improve students acquisition in science process skills which in this case is the students readiness. There were limited local past studies that have yet to address the dimensions of students readiness for primary science in upper level primary school classes. Thus, it seemed significant to look into this research area to gain better understanding of the dimensions of students learning readiness in primary science in the Malaysian upper level primary classes. In addition, the science teachers perceptions on these dimensions of the students readiness will also be examined.

1.3

Purpose of Study In line with the above, it is evident that the teachers awareness and perception of students learning readiness in primary science should be examined so as to facilitate the upper level primary school students acquisition in the science process skills. The objectives of this study were: 1.3.1 To identify the dimensions of students readiness in learning primary science in upper level primary classes. 1.3.2 To investigate the teachers perceptions of assessing students readiness in learning primary science in upper level primary classes.

1.4

Significance of the Study This study hoped to lend credence to the belief that identifying and gauging the students learning readiness is very important in the teaching of primary science in the Malaysian primary schools. Secondly, it was hoped this study will help the Science teachers in the primary schools to see the benefits of identifying and building the students readiness before employing any activities in their pedagogical Science teaching approach in

the upper level classes in the Malaysian primary schools. Lastly, it was hoped to contribute to the primary school students development in terms of improving the acquisition of their science process skills and motivational development of their level of self confidence in higher order thinking, analytical and scientific skills. 1.5 Research Questions The research questions formulated were as follows: 1.5.1 1.5.2 What are the dimensions of students readiness in learning primary science What are the teachers perceptions of assessing students readiness in

in upper level primary classes? learning primary science in upper level primary classes?

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Nature and Limitations of the Study The proposed study followed a mixed method research approach, involving the use of a 7-Likert-scale survey and a 5 - item semi structured in-depth interview to examine the dimensions of the students readiness in primary science teaching. It was limited to no more than 20 upper level Science teachers of more than 3 years of teaching experience in the upper level classes in the class of ESR 1B of International Education Centre (INTEC), MARA University of Technology (UiTM), Section 17 Campus, Shah Alam, Selangor because of the time constraint involved in interviewing and subsequent data analysis. Due to the nature of the case study, there was a problem of generalization of the findings for all upper level primary schools in Malaysia.

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Definitions of Terms 1.7.1 Learning readiness: the possession by the learner of the requisite emotiveattitudinal, cognitive, behavioral characteristics, skills, and orientations needed to be a successful learner.

1.7.2

Primary Science process skills: skills which promote thinking in a critical, creative, analytical and systematic that are divided into two types: basic and integrated skills.

1.7.3

Upper level primary school students: Year 4, 5 and 6 students ranging between 10 to 12 years old. CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1

Introduction Developmentally appropriate practices help primary students develop a broad range of characteristics or dimensions associated with learning readiness. These basic dimensions provide the scaffolding for children needed to be successful learners. Over time, views of testing and readiness assessment were used to help teachers be more effective in their pedagogy teaching of any subjects in the school.

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Definition of Readiness
Learning Readiness, from our perspective, is the possession by the learner of the requisite emotive-attitudinal, cognitive, behavioral characteristics, skills, and orientations needed to be a successful learner (Maddox, Forte, & Boozer, 2000). Learning readiness is not

an end in itself; it is the beginning of an active teaching and learning engagement. Bruners (1966) stated that a child who is ready to learn something will not learn unless he is taught it, or unless the conditions are propitious for the child to learn it on his or her own. Waiting for children to demonstrate their readiness by learning something spontaneously without some intervention or preparation of the environment is, in his view, fruitless. Here, Bruners perspective casts light on the fundamental relativity that if readiness consists of a mastery of simpler skills that permit one to reach higher or more complex skills, one childs readiness may be another childs long-ago-accomplishment or another childs yetto-be-achieved success as different children have different life experiences or opportunities for learning. Thus, here lies the challenge for the teachers to assess their students of multilevel learning readiness and differentiate their instructions so as to attend to their 5

students differences to maximize their individual potential in the classroom. Teachers are hunters and gatherers of information about their students and how those students are learning at a given point. Whatever the teachers can glean about their students readiness level helps them to plan the next steps in their teaching instructions which will lead to a more successful and satisfying student learning (Vygotsky, 1986). 2.3 Differentiation in the Science Pedagogical Practice Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Whether teachers differentiate content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction (Tomlinson, 2000). A differentiated classroom will have a combination of teacher directed, teacher selected activities, and learner centered, learner selected activities; whole class instruction, small group instruction, and individual instruction. The first step for teachers to do this is to gauge their students learning readiness level as assessment is ongoing and tightly linked to instruction. Then the teachers need to ask themselves, what do they want their students to know, understand, and be able to do, what will they do instructionally to get their students to learn a certain topic and how will their students show what they know (readiness). In teaching primary science too, one size does not fit all. Science teachers also need to assess their students learning readiness first before teaching any basic Science process skills. Recently, there is a plan to shift from rote learning to creative critical thinking and experiential learning skills in order to improve the acquisition of basic Science process skills (Keng, 2010). Thus in doing so, teachers need to consider the important factor which is the students learning readiness first in order to ensure Malaysian primary school students to master the science process skills. Science teachers need to "stretch" their students. It is common in constructing skills check-lists to have columns for "cannot yet do", "can do with help", and "can do alone". As laid down by Vygotsky (1978), in his theory of the "Zone of Proximal Development" (ZPD) where "Proximal" simply means "next", the ZPD is about "can do with help" stage moving towards being able to do something on your own. The key to "stretching" the students is to know what is in that students ZPDwhat comes next, for them. Hence, here lies the importance of assessing

the students learning readiness and then providing instructions that are always in advance of the students current level of mastery, that is, within a students zone of proximal development. As Byrnes (1996) also emphasized that if new knowledge or skills or materials are presented at or below the mastery level, there will be no growth and if presented well above the zone, children will be confused and frustrated. 2.4 Dimensions of Students Learning Readiness According to Blaustein (2005), the basic dimensions or characteristics that lay the foundation of readiness of young students in learning primary Science are having adequate cognitive functioning such as being able to engage and adapt in appropriate hands-on activity or experiential learning and connect social, emotional, physical, and cognitive experiences through repeated meaningful social and concrete interactions; multiple situations to use imagination to wonder, dream, and expand notions of the real world and complex abstract concepts; and varied opportunities to integrate play with learning experiences and link old and new knowledge. Mercer, Wegerif, & Dawes (1999) and Bruner (1966) highlighted on a readiness dimension that is having the disposition for learning is important as students learn best when they are physically, mentally, emotionally and intrinsically motivated ready to learn using their spontaneous energies, and they do not learn well if they see no reason for learning. Another dimension is having adequate knowledge base for the content or subject that will be taught during the learning process. Young students learn by using all of their senses to experience the physical world. During this multisensory learning process, children meet the basic need to integrate new awareness with previous knowledge through the process of active inquiry (Kohlberg & DeVries, 1987). They integrate acts of sight, sound, and touch with language as they experience, explore, question, and use new knowledge. This integration builds understanding and insights into the concrete world; generates new ideas; and allows children to wonder about, discuss, and explore different outcomes. Another dimension of readiness is students having adequate study skills and strategies where they have the opportunity to practice making instinctive decisions and deliberate choices using critical thinking skills, test how new ideas affect old ones, being aware of their own strengths and willing to learn with peers so as to integrate the new

knowledge and making connections into a meaningful understanding of their world (Muller-Ackerman, 2002). The ability to link knowledge, experience, and new ideas is crucial in an ever-changing world.

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Conclusion In conclusion, when developing and accommodating appropriate pedagogical practices in teaching primary Science, the broad range of dimensions or characteristics associated with their students learning readiness need to be taken account. These basic characteristics provide the scaffolding for children to be successful and in acquiring the basic Science process skills that need to be mastered in the primary school.

CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY OF RESEARCH 3.1 Introduction This chapter looks at the methodology used in conducting this research. It looks at the design and sample of the study. Next it looks at the data gathering instruments, procedures employed and data analysis.

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Design A case study design was conducted to determine the dimensions of students readiness that influence their learning primary Science and its implications to the teaching and learning of primary Science as perceived by the Science teachers in the upper level classes in Malaysian primary schools. This study gave insights to the Science teachers perceptions on the learning readiness dimensions of the students in the acquisition of the basic primary science process skills in the upper level classes. The first phase of the study was the survey with the 20 science teachers which was the primary data source. The second phase of the study was the in-depth interviews with the 2 randomly selected science teachers to obtain more detailed supportive data.

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Sample This research sample used a purposive sampling of 20 upper level Science teachers of more than 3 years of teaching experience in the upper level classes in the class of ESR 1B of International Education Centre (INTEC), MARA University of Technology (UiTM), Section 17 Campus, Shah Alam, Selangor. The teachers had more than 3 year teaching experience of teaching upper level primary classes. This sample was drawn in two phases. In the first phase, the number of this sample was 20 teachers (n= 20) involving in the 7 Likert-scale survey. Then in the second phase, only 2 teachers were randomly selected for the 5 item semi structured in-depth interview. All respondents were on the voluntary basis.

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Instrumentation This study employed a cross-sectional survey method. The measuring instruments involved were: 3.4.1 Survey a survey consisted of 7 Likert scale items. The survey looked into the teachers perceptions on the dimensions of the students readiness in primary science teaching in the upper level primary classes (Appendix A). 3.4.2 In-depth interviews a set of interview questions each consisted 5 semi structured questions. The interviews looked into the teachers perceptions on assessing the students readiness in primary science teaching in the upper level primary classes (Appendix B).

3.5 Procedures of Data Collection This case study was conducted in the class of ESR 1B of International Education Centre (INTEC), MARA University of Technology (UiTM), Section 17 Campus, Shah Alam, Selangor. The survey and in-depth interview were administered directly to the sample once throughout the whole study. The study had two phases. The first phase was the survey distribution to 20 science teachers to look at their perceptions on the dimensions of the students readiness in primary science teaching in the upper level primary classes while, the second phase was the interview session with the 2 teachers randomly selected from the sample to look at the teachers perceptions on assessing the students readiness in primary science teaching in the upper level primary classes.

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Data Analysis Ongoing data analysis was taken throughout the study. All of the text interviews were entered into computer files. Connections between the data interpretations and emergent themes were used to further understanding of the area of the study and shaped the organization of the data for portrayal in the final documentation of the research study. 10

In the cross case content analysis, the coding of the interview transcript using the cross case tabulation was done to find the underlying meaning and emergent themes that were common to the respondents perceptions during the interview sessions. The data collected from the survey was analyzed using the SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Science). A numerical analysis that is the frequency analysis was used to tabulate the dimensions of the students learning readiness perceived by the teachers in their primary science classes. These total numbers will be changed into percentages and tabulated in the frequency table and also portrayed in pie charts to show the difference in proportions. These research findings were derived from the triangulation of the data gathered from the interviews. The emergent themes were identified with the hope of providing some useful generalizations about the dimensions of students learning readiness in primary science classes in Malaysian primary schools. Validity and reliability were documented through two segments: triangulation from the primary and secondary sources of data, peer checking and collaborative ties with the teacher respondents.

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Conclusion In conclusion, this chapter illustrated clearly the research design and methodology used by the researcher in carrying out the study which comprises of the sample and design of the study, data gathering instruments, data collection and procedures employed and data analysis.

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CHAPTER FOUR PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF DATA 4.1 Introduction This chapter reports of the Science primary teachers perceptions about the dimensions or characteristics of students learning readiness, the importance of determining the students learning readiness, the mode of assessing the students readiness and their pedagogical approach to cater their students different level of learning readiness in their Science classroom. All of the data were analyzed to provide answers to the research questions of this study. 4.2 Demographic Profile 4.2.1 Gender A total of 50% from the respondents were male Science teachers and another 50% were female Science teachers. (See Figure 1) Figure 1: 4.2.2 Gender of Teachers Teaching Experience It was found that 25 % of the teachers had 3 to 4 years of teaching experience in the upper level primary school, 40% Figure 2: had 5 to 6 years while Teaching Experience in another 35% of them had 7 Upper Level Primary and above years of teaching School experience. (See Figure 2)
35% 25% 3 to 4 years 5 to 6 years 40% 7 and above years

50% 50%

Male Female

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4.3

RQ1: What are the Dimensions of Students Readiness in Learning Primary Science in Upper Level Primary Classes? There were 7 items relating to this area that answered the first research question. It sought to answer what were the teachers perceptions of the benefits of cooperative learning strategy in the prewriting activities. (See Figure 3) Figure 3 shows the percentages for the 7 items that were related to the first research question.

T eachers' Perceptionsof S tudents' Readiness D ensions im S tudents...


Strongly Disagree 1. are enthusiastic about learning. 2. are willing to adapt to the som etim am es biguous and open ended nature of experential learning. 3. are m otivated and appreciate the intrinsic value of learning. 4. possess the cognitive and critical thinking skills necessaryto succeed aslearners. 5. are aware of their own strengths and lim itations. 6. are readily m connections between classroom learning ake and 'real world' applications. 7. are willing to learn cooperatively with their peersand teachers. 5% Unsure 5% 10% 15% 35% 45% 95% 100% Strongly Agree

95% 90% 85% 65% 55%

Figure 3: Teachers Perceptions of the Students Readiness Dimensions in Learning Primary Science

Item 1 looked into the perceptions of the teachers that students readiness is when they are enthusiastic about learning. The percentage for this item is a majority of 80% of the teachers strongly agree while the rest of the 20% strongly disagree that students readiness is not based on their enthusiasms about learning.

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Item 2 looked into the perceptions of the teachers that students readiness is when they are willing to adapt to the sometimes ambiguous and open-ended nature of experiential learning in primary Science. A total of 90% of the teachers strongly agree and the rest of the 10% were unsure. Item 3 looked into the perceptions of the teachers that students readiness is when they are motivated and appreciate the intrinsic value of learning primary Science. The majority percentage for this item was 85% of the teachers strongly agree accordingly while only 15% were unsure. While Item 4 looked into the perception of the teachers that students readiness is when they possess the cognitive and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed as learners. The percentages of this item for the teachers were 35% unsure and 65% strongly agree that students readiness is when they possess the cognitive and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed as learners. Item 5 looked into the perceptions of the teachers that students readiness is when they are aware of their strengths and limitations in learning primary Science. The percentages of this item for the teachers were 45% unsure and 55% strongly agree that students readiness is when they are aware of their strengths and limitations in learning primary Science. Item 6 looked into the perceptions of the teachers that students readiness is when they are readily making connections between classroom learning and the real world applications in learning primary Science. The majority percentage for this item was 95% of the teachers strongly agree accordingly while only 5% were unsure that students readiness is when they are readily making connections between classroom learning and the real world applications in learning primary Science. Item 7 looked into the perceptions of the teachers that students readiness is when they are willing to learn cooperatively with their peers and teachers in learning primary Science. This item has a majority of 100% of the teachers strongly agree that students readiness is when they are willing to learn cooperatively with their peers and teachers in learning primary Science.

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Overall, most of the respondents strongly agreed with the 7 dimensions of the students readiness when learning primary Science. This was also justified by the interview sessions conducted where both two teachers interviewed as they confirmed that they think students readiness is when they have adequate study skills and strategies such as possessing cognitive and critical thinking skills, willing to work cooperatively and asking and sharing information when learning primary Science. (See Table 1) Table 1: Teachers Perceptions of Students Readiness Dimensions in Learning Primary Science Response Emergent Themes T1: adequate study skills and strategies such as being able to use their Both teachers agreed critical thinking skills to make predictions and conclusions out of their that students must observations and willing to share their knowledge with their friends to possess adequate study complete their group work. skills and strategies before learning T2: my students must be able to work together cooperatively and use primary science their judgments or discuss together to come up with good answers from Being able to do their observations or experiments and wiling to ask questions and share critical thinking information in their group. Willing to work cooperatively Asking and sharing knowledge/information

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4.4

RQ2: What are the Teachers Perceptions of Assessing Students Readiness in Learning Primary Science in Upper Level Primary Classes? There were 4 emergent themes found relating to this area that answered the second research question. It sought to answer what were the teachers perceptions on the issues of assessing the students learning readiness before teaching primary science in the upper level primary classes.

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The Need to Assess Students Readiness Overall the respondents agreed that there is a need to assess the students learning readiness before starting to teach primary Science so that the students learning would be more successful and meaningful. (See Table 2)
Table 2: Teachers Perceptions of Assessing Students Readiness in Learning Primary Science in Upper Level Primary Classes

Response T1: Yes, I do. Mostly, I would do it at every starting of a new unit
so that my students would understand more clearly when I teach a new topic.

T2: Yes, I would so that I can identify my students prior knowledge first.

Emergent Themes Both teachers would determine students learning readiness level before teaching primary science

4.4.2

The Assessment Mode Overall the respondents perceived that the mode to assess the students

readiness is using formal diagnostic test or worksheet and question ad answer sessions. (See Table 3)
Table 3: Teachers Perceptions of Assessing Students Readiness in Learning Primary Science in Upper Level Primary Classes

Response T1: a formal diagnostic test during the first month and a
diagnostic worksheet before every introduction to a new unit...

T2: ask my students first about the topic that I would like to start teaching just to see how much they know about it first.

Emergent Themes Mode of readiness assessment preferred: Formal diagnostic tests/worksheet Question and answer sessions 16

4.4.3

Pedagogical Teaching Approach Overall the respondents perceived that differentiating in their instructions

in their pedagogical teaching primary Science in the upper level classes to cater to their students different level of learning readiness such as grouping and tiered assignments. (See Table 4)
Table 4: Teachers Perceptions of Assessing Students Readiness in Learning Primary Science in Upper Level Primary Classes

Response T1: differentiate my assignments to different groups of


students where I group them with a balanced of mixed boys and girls according to their readiness level after checking their diagnostic tests or work sheets.

T2: breakdown my lessons to differentiate my instructions so


that my explanations are made simpler for the weaker students while some of the advanced students who already know what I am talking about may be given a more challenging assignment for them to search more information about that certain topic.

Emergent Themes Both teachers differentiate their teaching instructions in their pedagogical approach in teaching primary science. Grouping Tiered assignments

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Conclusion Overall the respondents perceived that Science teachers need to assess their students learning readiness before teaching by using a formal diagnostic test or worksheet or doing a question and answer session with the students. Overall teachers need to consider the students learning readiness dimensions in order to integrate in their pedagogical teaching approach by differentiating their teaching instructions to cater the different levels of their students readiness when learning primary Science.

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CHAPTER FIVE SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION 5.1 Introduction This chapter looks at the summary of the findings, discussion, the limitations of the study, the implications of the research and lastly, the recommendations for further research. 5.2 Summary and Discussion of Findings 5.2.1 RQ1: What are the Dimensions of Students Readiness in Learning the Science Process Skills in Upper Level Primary Classes? From the numerical and content analysis of this study showed the majority of the teachers strongly agreed that the students readiness when learning primary Science can be characterized by the students enthusiasms about learning. This concurs with what Byrnes (1996), Mercer, Wegerif, & Dawes (1999) and Bruner (1966) also emphasized on the students disposition for learning is important and they learn best when they are enthusiastic and interested about learning. Our findings also concur with Blaustein (2005) and Kohlberg & DeVries (1987)., the basic dimensions or characteristics that lay the foundation of readiness of young students in learning primary Science are having adequate cognitive functioning such as meeting their basic need to integrate new awareness with previous knowledge through the process of active inquiry, willing to adapt to the sometimes ambiguous and open-ended nature of appropriate hands-on activity or experiential learning and readily make connections between social, emotional, physical, and cognitive experiences in the classroom learning and the real world applications and besides that the students readiness are when they are motivated and appreciate the intrinsic value of learning.

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Other dimensions of readiness are students possess the cognitive and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed as learners while at the same time they are aware of their own strengths and limitations and also are willing to learn cooperatively with their peers and teachers. This is aligned with Muller-Ackerman (2002) and Vygotsky (1962) where students readiness is having adequate study skills and strategies where they have the opportunity to practice making instinctive decisions and deliberate choices using critical thinking skills, test how new ideas affect old ones, being aware of their own strengths and willing to learn with peers so as to integrate the new knowledge and making connections into a meaningful understanding of their world within their zone proximal developments.

5.2.2

RQ2: What are the Teachers Perceptions of Assessing Students Readiness in Learning the Science Process Skills In Upper Level Primary Classes? From the content analysis of the interview session, Table 1 shows both two

Science teachers interviewed are aligned with Muller-Ackerman (2002) and Vygotsky (1978) that viewed students readiness is when they have adequate study skills and strategies such as possessing cognitive and critical thinking skills, willing to work cooperatively and asking and sharing information when learning primary Science. Overall the majority of the teachers would determine their students learning readiness before starting to teaching by using formal diagnostic test or worksheet and question and answer sessions so that they may differentiate their teaching instructions in their pedagogical teaching in their primary Science classrooms. This concurs with Vygotsky (1986) and Tomlinson (2000) that when teachers can glean about their students readiness level helps them to plan to differentiate content, process, products in their teaching instructions, or the learning environment in their Science classrooms, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping will lead to a more successful and satisfying student learning.

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5.3

Limitations of the Study The limitation of the study was the number of respondents involved. The number of respondents involved in this study was a total of 10 male and 10 female Science teachers for the survey and 2 randomly selected teachers for the in-depth interview. This is because the study was only meant for primary Science teachers in the class of ESR 1B of International Education Centre (INTEC), MARA University of Technology (UiTM), Section 17 Campus, Shah Alam, Selangor. Therefore the findings cannot be generalized to any other Science teachers in the Malaysian primary schools. This is because the teachers might have different teaching experience, education setting and students readiness in teaching primary Science.

5.4

Implication of the Study There are implications that are generated through this research which include the usefulness of Science teachers to know the dimensions of the students readiness in learning primary Science in their classrooms. The teachers can determine the students readiness through various assessment modes such as a formal diagnostic test or worksheet or a question and answer session. This study can help teachers to enhance their pedagogical practice in teaching primary Science to improve the upper level primary school students critical thinking, social academic support and development of their Science process skills by emphasizing on the dimensions of the students readiness that the teachers need to consider to make the students learning more successful and meaningful. The study has implications for training teachers in assessing students readiness and differentiating instructions in their Science learning pedagogy. First, it highlights the importance of ensuring that teachers are trained to know how to assess their students readiness and the communicative and social skills needed to implement differentiated instructions in their Science classrooms. These include ensuring that assignments, activities and groupings are well structured and flexible so that students development may be scaffolded according to their ZPD. 20

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Recommendations for Further Research For further research it is proposed that the number of respondents of Science teachers from different primary schools in Malaysia can be increased in further research. This will produce more valid and reliable findings and more variety in response. The research would be more extensive by having respondents from other primary schools so that comparison of the data findings from various primary schools could be analyzed. This will produce more valid results as to the education system and the findings can be generalized further.

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Conclusion Generally the findings from this research could contribute in enhancing the education system and develop teacher professionalism through the assessment of students learning readiness according to the dimensions found. The implementation of differentiated instructions in the pedagogical practice in the teaching of primary Science hopes to cater the different level of students readiness in order to improve their Science process skills and make their primary Science learning successful and meaningful.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Ausubel, D. P., Novak, J. D., and Hanesian, H., (1978). Educational psychology: A cognitive view (2nd ed.). New York: Holt, Rhinehart and Winston Blaustein, M. (July 2005). The Basics of Learning Readiness. See, Hear, Touch! The Basics of Learning Readiness Beyond the Journal . Bruner, J. S. (1996). Toward a Theory of Instruction. Harvard: Cambridge Mass. Byrnes, J. P. (1996). Cognitive Development and Learning in Instructional Contexts. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Driscoll, M. P., (2000). Psychology of learning for instruction. MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Gagne, R. M., (1963). The learning requirements for enquiry. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 1, 144153.

Inhelder, B., and Piaget, J., (1958). The growth of logical thinking. London: Routledge Kegan Paul.

Keng, C. H., (2010, April 24). Rote Learning Simply Won't Do. New Straits Times . Klahr, D., (1998). Carnegie Mellon researchers say direct instruction, rather than "Discovery Learning" is the best way to teach process skills in science. Available at: http://.eurekalert.org/releases/direct-sciskill.html (retrieved on July 15, 1999). Kohlberg, L., & DeVries, R. (1987). Constructivist early education: Overview and Comparisons with Other Programs. Washington D.C.: NAEYC.

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Maddox, N., Forte, M., & Boozer, R. (2000). Learning Readiness: An Underappreciated Yet Vital Dimension in Experential Learning. Developments in Business Simulation & Experential Learning , Vol. 27. Mercer, N., Weger, R., & Dawes, L. (1999). Children's Talk and the Development of Reasoning in the Classroom. Learning and Instruction , Vol. 25, pp. 95-111. Ministry of Education Malaysia, (2003). Integrated Curriculum For Primary Schools Science Syllabus. Kuala Lumpur: Curriculum Development Centre. Muller-Ackerman, B. (2002). Cognitive Development in Children: It's More than What They Know. Retrieved June 10, 2011, from www.teachersandfamilies.com.

Palanisamy, R. V., (1986). Cognitive development and acquisition of the mathematical concepts of fraction, ratio and proportion: A study of a sample of Malaysian urban secondary school pupils. Unpublished M.Ed. thesis, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Tomlinson, C., (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixedability classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and Language. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

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APPENDICES

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APPENDIX A Survey Teachers Perceptions of Students Readiness in Learning Primary Science Section A: Demographic Profile Gender: Teaching Experience Male 3-4 years Female 5-6 years 7-above years

Section B: Students readiness is when they are


1. 2.

Strongly Disagree Unsure

Strongly Agree

Enthusiastic about learning. Willing to adapt to the sometimes ambiguous and open-ended nature of experiential

learning. 3. Motivated and appreciate the intrinsic value of learning. 4. Possess the cognitive and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed as learners. 5. Aware of their own strengths and limitations 6. Readily make connections between classroom learning and real world applications 7. Willing to learn cooperatively with their peers and teachers.

APPENDIX B Interview 1. Do you determine your students readiness for learning before teaching primary science? If yes, why? 25

If no, why?

2. How do you determine your students readiness in your science class? Diagnostic tests/assessments formal/informal? Question and Answer sessions about students background knowledge? Use KWL charts (charts that ask students to identify what they already Know, what theyWant to know, and what they have Learned about a topic).

3. What do you think are the dimensions/characteristics that a student should posses in order to learn effectively the science process skills? - The Disposition For Learning a desire to learn, positive attitude toward the learning situation, willingness to make the investment of time and effort that is necessary for learning, the ability to persevere and an understanding of the importance and value of learning. - Adequate Cognitive Functioning the ability to process information efficiently, the ability to make comparisons, the ability to organize information, the ability to handle more than one piece of information at the time, the ability to adequately communicate answers. - Adequate Knowledge Base For The Content Being Presented having "prerequisite skills". - Adequate Study Skills And Strategies possess the cognitive and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed as learners, aware of their own strengths and limitations, can make connections between classroom learning and real world applications, aware of their personal values and willing to disclose them in the learning process and willing to function in a partnership with their learning peers and facilitators. 4. Tell me what do you do to cater to your students readiness in your primary science classes? - Differentiation instructional strategies - tiered assignments and products, compacting? - Use a variety of resource materials at different levels of complexity and associated with different learning modalities - Adjust task by complexity, abstractness, number of steps, concreteness, and independence to ensure challenge and not frustration

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APPENDIX C Cross Case Content Analysis - Teachers Perceptions CATEGORIES ASSESSING STUDENTS LEARNING READINESS BEFORE TEACHING PREFERENCE OF READINESS ASSESSMENT MODE RESPONSES T1: Yes, I do. Mostly, I would do it at every starting of a new
unit so that my students would understand more clearly when I teach a new topic.

T2: Yes, I would so that I can identify my students prior knowledge first. T1: a formal diagnostic test during the first month and a
diagnostic worksheet before every introduction to a new unit...

EMERGENT THEMES Both teachers would determine students learning readiness level before teaching primary science

T2: ask my students first about the topic that I would like to start teaching just to see how much they know about it first.

IMPORTANT STUDENT LEARNING READINESS DIMENSION

T1: adequate study skills and strategies such as being able to


use their critical thinking skills to make predictions and conclusions out of their observations and willing to share their knowledge with their friends to complete their group work.

T2: my students must be able to work together cooperatively


and use their judgments or discuss together to come up with good answers from their observations or experiments and wiling to ask questions and share information in their group.

PEDAGOGICAL TEACHING APPROACH

T1: differentiate my assignments to different groups of


students where I group them with a balanced of mixed boys and girls according to their readiness level after checking their diagnostic tests or work sheets.

T2: breakdown my lessons to differentiate my instructions so


that my explanations are made simpler for the weaker students while some of the advanced students who already know what I am talking about may be given a more challenging assignment for them to search more information about that certain topic.

Mode of readiness assessment preferred: Formal diagnostic tests/worksheet Question and answer session Both teachers agreed that students must possess adequate study skills and strategies before learning primary science Being able to do critical thinking Willing to work cooperatively Asking and sharing knowledge/informa tion Both teachers differentiate their teaching instructions in their pedagogical approach in teaching primary science. Grouping Tiered assignments

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APPENDIX D Interview Transcript Teacher 1


One of the researchers, Puan Azlimariah bint Ariffin interviewed a Science teacher, who has four years of teaching experience, on Monday, June 14, 2011, in the classroom of ESR 1B of International Education Centre (INTEC at MARA University of Technology (UiTM), Shah Alam Selangor about students readiness in learning primary science in her Year 4 Science class. Q1. Q.2. Yes, I do. Mostly, I would do it at every starting of a new unit so that my students would understand more clearly when I teach a new topic. I prefer to do a formal diagnostic test during the first month and a diagnostic worksheet before every introduction to a new unit. Hmm for me my students must possess adequate study skills and strategies such as being able to use their critical thinking skills to make predictions and conclusions out of their observations and willing to share their knowledge with their friends to complete their group work.

Q.3

Q.4

I usually differentiate my assignments to different groups of students where I group them with a balanced of mixed boys and girls according to their readiness level after checking their diagnostic tests or work sheets.

NOTES: TEACHER 1S PERCEPTIONS ON CATEGORIES ASSESSING STUDENTS LEARNING READINESS BEFORE TEACHING PREFERENCE OF READINESS ASSESSMENT MODE IMPORTANT STUDENT LEARNING READINESS DIMENSION PEDAGOGICAL TEACHING APPROACH RESPONSES Yes, I do. Mostly, I would do it at every starting of a new unit so that my students would understand more clearly when I teach a new topic.

a formal diagnostic test during the first month and a diagnostic worksheet before every introduction to a new unit adequate study skills and strategies such as being able to use their critical thinking skills to make predictions and conclusions out of their observations and willing to share their knowledge with their friends to complete their group work. differentiate my assignments to different groups of students where I group them with a balanced of mixed boys and girls according to their readiness level after checking their diagnostic tests or work sheets.

APPENDIX E 28

Interview Transcript Teacher 2


One of the researchers, Puan Azlimariah bint Ariffin interviewed a Science teacher, who has four years of teaching experience, on Monday, June 14, 2011, in the classroom of ESR 1B of International Education Centre (INTEC at MARA University of Technology (UiTM), Shah Alam Selangor about students readiness in learning primary science in her Year 4 Science class. Q1. Q.2. Yes, I would so that I can identify my students prior knowledge first before I start writing up my lesson plan for a new topic. I like ask my students first about the topic that I would like to start teaching just to see how much they know about it first. For me, my students must be able to work together cooperatively and use their judgments or discuss together to come up with good answers from their observations or experiments and wiling to ask questions and share information in their group.

Q.3

Q.4

I usually breakdown my lessons to differentiate my instructions so that my explanations are made simpler for the weaker students while some of the advanced students who already know what I am talking about may be given a more challenging assignment for them to search more information about that certain topic.

NOTES: TEACHER 2S PERCEPTIONS ON CATEGORIES ASSESSING STUDENTS LEARNING READINESS BEFORE TEACHING PREFERENCE OF READINESS ASSESSMENT MODE IMPORTANT STUDENT LEARNING READINESS DIMENSION PEDAGOGICAL TEACHING APPROACH RESPONSES Yes, I would so that I can identify my students prior knowledge first

ask my students first about the topic that I would like to start teaching just to see how much they know about it first. my students must be able to work together cooperatively and use their judgments or discuss together to come up with good answers from their observations or experiments and wiling to ask questions and share information in their group. breakdown my lessons to differentiate my instructions so that my explanations are made simpler for the weaker students while some of the advanced students who already know what I am talking about may be given a more challenging assignment for them to search more information about that certain topic.

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