Anda di halaman 1dari 10

A Study of Hands-On Activities in Mathematics and Science Methods Courses via Interactive Instructional Television

Kay Axtell-Dean Yavapai College This presentation is based on a doctoral dissertation completed in the spring semester of May 1998 studying hands-on activities in mathematics and science methods courses delivered via Interactive Instructional Television during the Spring semester of 1996 by Northern Arizona University.

The objective of this study was to determine if student teachers who received training in mathematics and science methods courses via interactive instructional television (IITV) received instruction in hands-on activities. Furthermore, the study focused on whether the student teachers used the hands-on activities in the classrooms in which they performed their student teaching. Overview "Welcome! Youve got mail!" Whenever a student logs on and connects with their electronic mail provider, a welcoming message greets them. Using the Internet and electronic mail has become standard fare for instructors and students in the last few years. For working adults as well as for "traditional" students, distance learning has opened up entire new worlds of educational opportunities. Mail messages can be sent or received twenty-four hours a day. For students enrolled in university classes, lessons can be sent via Email and immediate feedback from the instructor can be a reality (Dereshiwsky, 1996). Technology makes it possible to access the World Wide Web and libraries all over the world as well as to download vital information to a home computer. Electronic mail, cyberspace and asynchronous learning are household words. But is all of the technology producing better prepared teachers? Training of teachers has changed since the 1960s when new teachers struggled with 16 mm projectors, mimeograph machines and spirit duplicators. Todays novice teachers must master VCRs, CD Roms, computers and electronic mail. New technology has not only entered the classroom, it has become the classroom (Holmberg, 1986). But along with all of this comes the age-old question of quality. Will the new technology provide potential teachers with the best possible training? The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (1989) as well as the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) (1994), has indicated in

their national standards the need for hands-on activities. It is one thing to earn a degree in teacher education. It is quite another to be well versed in the methods that create the best possibility of learning for students in classrooms. So, the question is, can these method courses in science and mathematics be effectively taught via IITV?

Objective The objective of the study was to determine if student teachers who received training in mathematics and science methods courses via IITV received instruction using hands-on activities. Furthermore, the study focused on whether the student teachers used the hands-on activities in the classrooms in which they performed their student teaching.

Theoretical Framework The study was based on the perspective of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Curriculum and Evaluation Standards as well as the National Research Councils Science Standards. Both of these documents promote the use of hands-on activities in science and mathematics as an effective tool for student learning. Learning Theory As early as 1946, Edgar Dale observed the necessity for concrete experiences in student learning (Dale, 1969). Countless other learning theorists, including Bruner (1966), Piaget (1977), and Heinrich, Molenda & Russell (1993), stress the importance of integrating hands-on experiences into the learning schema of students. This shift in learning theory has accelerated the embracing of distance education due to the change in structure of classrooms. At the beginning of the 1980s, the behaviorist perspective dominated instructional technology. By the 1990s, however, the cognitive learning theory began to take hold. A factor in the acceptance of distance learning is the shift from independent, competitive classrooms to those classrooms which encourage cooperative learning. Since cognitive theory encourages discovery, simulations and problem solving, hands-on learning is back in vogue. All of these factors lend themselves to a successful distance learning environment (Heinrich, 1993). Methods This qualitative study utilized interviews, observations and questionnaires to gather data. The assessment was done by comparing syllabi for the

mathematics and science methods courses; viewing videos from the IITV mathematics and science methods courses; observing the student teachers in the classrooms; interviewing the faculty who taught the methods courses, the student teachers, the cooperating teachers and the university supervisors; and surveying the student teachers, cooperating teachers and the university supervisors by use of a questionnaire. Population of the Study Students enrolled in the mathematics and science methods courses delivered via IITV comprise the population of the study. Northern Arizona University conducted the courses in the spring semester of 1996. The sites where the courses were delivered and the number of students enrolled at each site are shown in Table 1. Table 1

A sample of ten student teachers was selected from the population, five students from the science methods class and five from the mathematics methods class. Of the ten students chosen, two were Native Americans, one was Hispanic and seven were Caucasian. Student Preference At the conclusion of the semester, the sample of ten student teachers trained in mathematics and science methods courses via IITV were asked what their first, second and third choices would be if enrolling in another methods course of a similar nature. The student teachers first choice of taking the methods class was by traditional method one instructor, one classroom; second choice was through IITV and the third choice was through computer-based instruction. Figure 13 shows the student teachers preferences in taking methods courses.

Need for Hands-on Activities Table 3 shows that the student teachers as well as the cooperating teachers and university supervisors all "strongly agree" that hands-on activities are essential to learning in elementary school classrooms.

Strategies Used to Assist Learning The responses in Table 3 indicate that the student teachers, cooperating teachers and university supervisors all agreed that the use of hands-on activities in the elementary school classroom are essential to learning. Data Source Morgan (1984) writes that "studies adopting qualitative methodologies are under-represented in distance education" because time and space separation involved in studying distance students incline researchers to favor quantitative measures such as questionnaire mailing. This qualitative study gathered data from the full-time faculty members teaching the two methods courses by observing the videos for the courses and by interviewing each of the faculty members. The mathematics methods course was team-taught by two female faculty members, the science methods course by a male. Each of these three faculty members was interviewed using open-ended questions. Both of the courses were delivered live, but were videotaped both for student use and for archival purposes. Selected videos were watched to support the interviews. Student teachers were interviewed, and then observed in their student teaching semester. They were asked to complete a likert-scaled questionnaire, as well as an open-ended survey instrument. Cooperating teachers, classroom teachers who mentor student teachers, were interviewed and they, too, were asked to complete a likert-scaled questionnaire, with parallel questions to those asked of the student teachers. The university supervisors who supervised the student teachers completed the data source. They were interviewed and also completed a likert-scaled

questionnaire, with parallel questions which could be compared to both the cooperating teachers and the student teachers questionnaires. This study is exploratory in nature, due to the limited amount of previous research in the area of hands-on activities in mathematics and science methods courses delivered to pre-service teachers via IITV. An attempt was made to determine what existed at the time this study was conducted. The sample for the study was limited in members. Results and Conclusions

In Figures 3 and 4, the responses of the cooperating teachers show that 60% of them were confident in the mathematics and science content knowledge of the student teachers.

The conclusion is made that if hands-on activities are to be used by preservice teachers in the classrooms, then hands-on activities have to be modeled by their instructors in mathematics and science. The study showed that because the mathematics instructors modeled hands-on activities in their methods courses, the students used those same activities in their student teaching classrooms. The methods courses studied were pilot classes. All three of the faculty who taught the courses indicated that they would teach the courses again via IITV, if given the chance. All three also said that they would change some aspects of their teaching to better meet the students needs. Since the literature suggests that successful development of IITV courses requires a great deal of capital investment, as well as a great deal of interaction among many facets of the university, then it behooves the faculty, instructional specialists, interactive television technicians, graphic artists, etc. to join together in common dialogue about the development of the courses. This is particularly important with respect to the incorporation of hands-on activities in the delivery of distance education science and mathematics methods courses. Hands-on activities in mathematics and science can be delivered to preservice teachers via IITV. The syllabus needs to contain clear directions as to how this is to be accomplished. A system can be developed whereby students in the mathematics methods courses can have the manipulatives in their hands for the activities. Science instructors will be challenged because

scientific apparatus might be required for some activities, but that hurdle can be overcome by videotaping more complicated scientific activities. Educational Importance of the Study and Relevance to the Field Hands-on activities are important in the learning of mathematics and science, based on a number of factors. The behaviorists, cognitists and constructivist theories all support the notion of the significant part hands-on activities play in making connections in mathematics and science. A childs world and the schema that he or she has developed within that world necessitate that connections are made in brain patterns to internalize mathematics and science concepts. Hands-on activities help make those connections. Access The students involved in the IITV mathematics and science methods courses were distributed over a wide geographical area. If these students had not had access to the IITV classes, they might never have completed their degrees. Two of the students were on reservations in Northern Arizona. Their access to these classes and the important modeling that the three expert faculty members exhibited gave all of the pre-service teachers important concepts in mathematics and science. In a world in which technical literacy is becoming as important as the ability to read and write, we cannot afford to lose a single person to mathematics and science ignorance. Yet, scores in mathematics and science tests continue to decline. There is no shortage of factors to blame for these low scores. However, one important component to student understanding is hands-on activities. There are many distance education in-service programs available to teachers of mathematics and science, which stress hands-on activities. There are few pre-service mathematics and science methods courses delivered via IITV. The reasons for this include: (1) lack of resources for the faculty members; (2) the fact that in many cases, the technology runs the program, rather than instructional design dictating the parameters; (3) sometimes faculty members are forced to teach via distance education, rather than their choosing it as a delivery of choice; (4) the students, as well as the instructor must be self-motivated; (5) feedback must be swift and tied to accountability; and (6) faculty must continue to be the "guide on the side" and not the "sage on the stage." Mastery of New Skills In Being Digital, Negroponte (1995) states that while the technology necessary for information to become universally accessible is in place, the use of any new technology requires the mastery of new skills. More needs to be known about the implications for using IITV as a medium for teaching and learning. At Texas A&M, Drs. Larry and Kim Dooley are actively involved in distance education. There is a need to provide distance educators with systematic guidelines for selecting instructional strategies (Dooley, 1995). Studies indicate that distance education courses attain equal or superior learning outcomes when compared with traditional teaching methods.

Therefore, it can be concluded that in the use of hands-on activities in mathematics and science methods courses, the instructor makes the difference. Hands-on activities are necessary for learning, and if the instructor incorporates hands-on activities into the class time, then the students will have had those activities modeled for them. The student teachers are more likely to incorporate hands-on activities into their own teaching, which they exhibited in this study. Distance learning can bring educators, mathematicians and scientists, who are outside the classroom, into a home or a classroom, or even into an auditorium full of people. This experience can be passive, where they only see and hear the teachers, or it can be active, hands-on, and experiential. The participants can enjoy two-way visitation and exchange ideas and debate issues. Distance education allows students to explore the far corners of the world from their classrooms. To those faculty and students involved in distance education, it means that with strong instructor support, pre-service teachers will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities in mathematics and science. Consequently, the students in those teachers classrooms will be better prepared in the areas of mathematics and science. Though we have entered a time when we ought to have some standard practices in distance education, many new instructors find themselves walking in unfamiliar territory with little more than a compass. Distance education delivery rules should be reviewed, challenged and updated. These rules may serve as an entry-level guide. The reality is that many universities are offering distance education courses and have given very little attention to policies or rules. Like any classroom situation, no formula will work in every situation. Instructors will continue to experiment until they find their own "best fit" equation. Distance education remains a compelling and dynamic field for educators. Mathematics and science education can be better because of the opportunities that distance education can provide. References Bruner, Jerome (1966). Toward a theory of instruction. Cambridge, Ma: Harvard University Press. Dale, Edgar (1969). Audio-visual methods in teaching. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Dereshiwsky, Mary (1996). Research design class offered via modem, summer session I, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona. Dooley, L. (1995). Problems and issues in distance learning using interactive video between the U/S. and selected African countries. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications. 1(1), 93-104. Holmberg, Borje (1986). Growth and structure of distance education. London: Croom Helm.

Heinrich, Robert, Michael Molenda & James D. Russell (1993). Instructional media and the new technologies of instruction. New York: Macmillan. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (1989). Curriculum and evaluation standards for school mathematics. Reston, Va. NCTM. National Research Council (1994). National science education standards. Washington, D.C. Negroponte, N. (1995). Being Digital. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. New York. Morgan, A. (1984) A report on qualitative methodologies in research in distance Education. Distance Education, 5,2, 252-267. Piaget, Jean (1977). The development of thought: elaboration of cognitive structures. New York: Viking Press