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First Visit, Cilacap

28 Juni kemarin adalah kali pertama mengunjungi kabupaten atau tepatnya kota Cilacap. Ada tugas dadakan untuk mengisi diklat di SMA Negeri 3 Cilacap selama kurang lebih 3 jam dari pukul 13 sampai pukul 16 di jadwal yang diberikan. Kegiatan ini cukup dadakan dan dipersiapkan singkat banget. Untungnya materi yang dibawakan adalah Pengenalan STEM yang alhamdulillah materinya sudah ada yang pernah dipresentasikan juga. Tinggal mempersiapkan aktivitas yang akan dilakukan guru-guru nanti saja. Soalnya guru kali jenjang SMA dan belum sekalipun membahas materi ini di SMA.

Nah awalnya kemarin itu akan berangkat seorang diri. Ternyata Pak Direktur tidak mengijinkan saya berangkat sendiri. Pertimbangannya tentu karena saya perempuan sendirian dan perjalanan ini cukup jauh. Alhamdulillah bisa berkolaborasi dengan teman pengajar yang lain untuk mengisi materi kemarin.

Materi yang kami bawakan kemarin bisa dibilang baru untuk guru-guru yang mengikuti IHT kemarin di SMA 3 Cilacap. STEM yang merupakan singkatan Science, Technology, Engineerng, and Mathematics adalah suatu pembelajaran yang mengintegrasikan keempat mata pelajaran tersebut dalam satu aktivitas pembelajaran. Di luar sana STEM sudah sangat populer bahkan sudah menjadi kurikulum di beberapa negara. Di Indonesia sendiri bisa dibilang pembelajaran ini masih merupakan sesuatu yang baru untuk sebagian besar guru. Saya dan teman-teman pernah menginterview beberapa guru terkait pengetahuan mereka tentang STEM. Hampir sebagian besar guru belum mengenal STEM dan belum pernah mengimplementasikan STEM. Untuk itulah STEM memang amat sangat perlu diperkenalkan kepada guru-guru agar pembelajarn mereka menjadi jauh lebih kreatif dan bermakna. DI kurikulum Indonesia sendiri, sedang dicanangkan untuk memasukkan STEM dalam pembelajaran di kelas.

Sebenarnya sih, sadar atau tidak sadar beberapa guru sudah melaksanakan pembelajaran STEM. Mengintegrasikan pembelajaran Sains dan matematika misalnya, atau memasukkan konteks teknologi dan rekayasa dalam pembelajaran mereka di kelas. Nah guru yang sekreatif ini mungkin tidak banyak jumlahnya, sehingga dirasa perlu untuk mulai mengenalkan dan membuka wawasan para guru-guru khususnya yang terkait dengan empat mata pelajaran ini untuk mengenal STEM lebih jauh. Pembehasan tentang STEM lebih jauh mungkin akan kita bahas nanti di lain postingan ya. Kali ini mau cerita apa yang berlangsung di Cilacap kemarin. Biar ada memori saja tentang apa yang sudah dilakukan (kegiatan serupa tahun lalu tdak jadi dishare, hanya berakhir di kolom draft wkwkwk..)

Ini lah salah satu hal yang dilakukan dalam kegiatan IHT di SMA 3 Cilacap kemarin. STEM menjadi salah satu materi yang dipilih untuk diperkenalkan kepada guru. Nah, kantor saya sebagai salah satu organisasi yang focus on teacher quality improvement akhirnya diberi amanah untuk mebawakan topik ini. Saya dan seorang teman akademik ditunjuk untuk mengisi di sana.

Kami menuju Cilacap dengan kereta pagi pukul 7.10 melalui Stasiun Tugu Jogja. Tiba di sana tepat pukul 1 siang kami mulai memperkenalkan apa STEM kepada guru-guru. ALhamdulillah mereka terlihat nampak antusias untuk mengenal hal baru ini. Yang menariknya, peserta ini bukan hanya guru matematika dan IPA saja. Malah sebagian besar guru adalah guru mata pelajaran lainnya. Kebayang ga tuh bingungnya mereka. Apa iya STEM harus mereka terapkan juga di mapel mereka, bagaimana caranya? Ada guru yang sempat melontarkan pertanyaan ini. Diskusi menjadi cukup menarik juga dengan adanya guru-guru mapel lain ini.

Tentu tidak gampang untuk memahamkan mereka bahwa tentu saja STEM ini tidak untuk mereka terapkan di mapel mereka, mengingat STEM terkait empat mata pelajaran yang menyusun nama STEM sendiri. Tetapi konteks science, technology, engineering atau mathematics tetap bisa menjadi konteks yang diangkat dalam mata pelajaran lainnya misalnya bahasa Indonesia, bahasa Inggris, Geografi atau yang lainnya. Memang dalam hal ini hanya mengangkat konteks saja, dan bukan berarti dalam mapel lainnya itu, siswa harus belajar sainsnya, matematikanya, engineeringnya atau matematikanya. Beberapa guru memang masih tampak bingung dengan hal ini. Poin penting lainnya adalah pembelajaran STEM tentu terkait dengan kolaborasi, dan juga dapat guru lakukan mengkolaborasikan mata pelajaran mereka dengan lainnya selain yang ada pada STEM. Diskusi berlangsung sangat seru kemarin. Yup memang perlu nih membahas STEM saja ya di lain kesempatan. Biar gambarannya jauh lebih jelas (semoga…hihi)

Kegiatan kami akhiri dengan memberikan contoh aktivitas yang terkait dengan STEM. Guru dibagi dalam beberapa kelompok yang terdiri dari lima orang. Aktivitas yang diberikan kepada guru adalah Bungee Jumping. Tahu kan? Nah di sini guru mengeksplorasi bagaimana tali pada bungee jumping digunakan sehingga kegiatan ini tetap aman untuk pemainnya. Di awal guru mengeksplorasi dengan menyusun simpul karet yang disusun secara seri yang digunakan sebagai tali bungee jumpingnya. Guru melakukan eksperimen untuk menentukan berapa panjang renggangan karet yang ketika objek (paper clip sebagai orang yang melakukan bungee jumping) dijatuhkan. Guru memulai dari 2 karet dan kelipatannya. Di akhir mereka diminta untuk memprediksi berapa kita-kira tinggi tebing ketika digunakan 20 karet gelang. Jumlah karet yang diberikan di awal hanya 15 buah sehingga mereka harus memprediksi berdasarkan aktivitas sebelumnya dengan jumlah karet yang tersedia. Di sini juga guru memperoleh bahwa perbandingan antara banyaknya karet dan panjang/tinggi karet ketika benda dijatuhkan membentuk grafik garis lurus pada koordinat kartesius. Setelah memprediksi guru kemudian melanjutkan dengan mengukur secara langsung prediksi mereka tadi. Tidak semua kelompok mau melanjutkan pengukuran terakhir ini. Mungkin sudah capek juga kali ya. Tapi boleh dibilang kegiatan ini sukses membuat mereka lebih memahami kegiatan seperti apa yang dapat bermakna untuk siswa. Guru yang tidak berasal dari mata pelajaran sains atau matematika juga tampak senang mengikuti aktivitas ini/ Alhamdulillah.

Kegiatan akhirnya harus molor hingga 16.30. Exhausted but interesting. Capek-capek bahagia namanya. Semoga apa yang diberikan kemarin semakin memotivasi guru-guru matematika, sains dan guru lainnya untuk terus membuat inovasi dalam kegiatan pembelajarannya dan mau terus belajar untuk mengenal hal-hal baru terkait pembelajaran. Guru harus mampu merubah mindset mereka untuk selalu mengembangkan diri. Guru juga tidak boleh berhenti belajar karena dunia juga menuntut mereka untuk mempersiapkan diri menghadapi tantangan yang semakin luar biasa ke depannya.

Saya juga belajar banyak dari guru-guru kemarin. Semangatnya luar biasa, walaupun ada juga yang seperti masih membentengi diri ketika menghadapi sesatu yang baru. Masih betah di zona nyaman. Semua harus belajar, saya pun juga. Harus berani menerima dan menghadapi perubahan. Semoga kegiatan selanjutnya juga sama menyenangkannya dengan yang kemarin. Can’t wait to join in the next activity. Semangat terus untuk kemajuan pendidikan di Indonesia.

Akhirnya pulang dengan membawa capek tetapi bahagia sekaligus. See you di tempat-tempat menyenangkan dan dengan orang-orang luar biasa selanjutnya.

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Restart

Sudah lama sekali rasanya tidak mengisi blog ini secara produktif lagi (dulu juga tidak produktif-produktif amat sih). Tapi memang kebiasaan menulis seharusnya segera dipaksa untuk dilanjutkan. Banyak tulisan yang akhirnya hanya bisa berakhir di jendela draft tanpa sempat terpublish. Banyak alasan. Ada yang sudah selesai sebenarnya tetapi ketidakpedean untuk mempost yang akhirnya menjadi alasan kuat untuk tidak menerbitkannya, merasa jelek saja tulisannya. Ada lagi yang akhirnya berhenti di tengah jalan karena kehabisan ide bahkan karena kerandoman harus menyelesaikan yang lain sehingga tidak dilanjutkan. Sekalinya dilanjutkan semua bahan di kepala sudah menguap dengan sangat cepat (random banget ya…)

Beberapa pekan ke belakang memang sering kepikiran untuk memaksa diri menulis lagi. Mengingat kualitas tulisanku ada pada level buruk (ini ga pede lagi), sepertinya mulai harus meluangkan waktu untuk mengasah kemampuan menulis (lagi) yang harusnya sudah dilakukan sejak bertahun-tahun lalu. Tidak kebayang ya berapa ratus postingan yang harusnya sudah terpajang rapi di blog ini seandainya kebiasaan menulis yang dulu bermodal niat ini dilanjutkan sampai sekarang. Panas-panas ta*  ayam banget ya.

Beberapa hari lalu sempat diskak seorang senior yang tulisannya sudah terpampang di mana-mana. Bukan di blog, tapi di berbagai jurnal dan buku karyanya sudah banyak mendarat ke tangan-tangan penikmat buku penelitian dan pendidikan matematika. “Jangan-jangan kalau sudah nyampe kosan, kamu kerjaannya tidur aja. Nulis lah dikit aja” Itu kalimat menohok banget rasanya (Tahu banget si kakak). Orang yang menulis sudah jadi bagian kesehariannya mengeluarkan kalimat itu. Sejak itu banyak merenung lagi, iya yah selama ini saya benar-benar tidak produktif. Jangankan menulis artikel ilmiah, nulis di blog aja malasnya minta ampun.

Jadilah rasanya semangat untuk menulis harus dipaksakan hidup kembali. Toh lingkungan kerja juga sangat support untuk bisa mengembangkan banyak tulisan bermanfaat untuk orang lain terutama menyangkut pendidikan. Banyak pengalaman saat tugas plus kajian-kajian yang bisa dishare kembali di blog ini ataupun di karya ilmiah sekalipun (nah ini banyak yang menggantung di draft). Beruntung ketemu teman lama semasa di Aussie dan Bali dulu, Sandra. Banyak ngobrol dengan dia yang juga sangat produktif menulis. Sudah jadi blogger sejak 10 tahun yang lalu dengan ratusan blog postnya. Obrolan terakhir dengannya benar-benar membuat semangat menulis menjadi berapi-api lagi (apa sih). Paling suka dengan kata-katanya di obrolan kemarin. “Menulis itu niatin buat diri sendiri dulu saja, yah syukur-syukur kalau ada yang mengambil manfaat dari tulisan kita. Itu lebih baik lagi” Benar juga, selama ini sepertinya ketakutan saya lebih kepada bagaimana nanti orang menilai tulisan saya. Padahal jujur ya, memang berasa ko ketika sebuah tulisan selesai, seperti puas tiada terkira rasanya. Kepuasan yang dulu banyak tertutupi sama keraguan akan pendapat orang tentang tulisan yang dihasilkan.

Sekarang harus dibuang keraguan-keraguan tidak penting itu. Nulis dulu saja untuk diri sendiri, kepuasan diri. Ga papa deh, direstart untuk menulis. Restarting dari blog ini, dan semoga bisa lahir banyak karya tulis lagi nanti, artikel atau sekalian buku.

Tolong dibantu menjaga semangat ini ya guys, yah minimal visit blog ini walaupun besok-besok tulisannya bakal random, ada serius ada yang receh. Kalau kualitasnya belum bagus, bantu komen dan kasih masukan boleh lah untuk improvementnya. Walaupun telat, ga papa ya… semoga umur panjang dan bisa posting banyak di sini. Bismillah…

 

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Feedback Mahasiswa

Entah kenapa memeriksa tugas pertama mahasiswa semester ini benar-benar saya nikmati prosesnya. Ada kenikmatan saja membaca dengan detail setiap essai yang dikirimkan mahasiswa pekan lalu. Padahal ini baru tugas pertama dan persis sama dengan tugas yang saya berikan pada mahasiswa semester kemarin. Semester ini rasanya bisa lebih fokus ketika cuma diberikan satu mata kuliah (maklum masih dosen luar biasa yang masih minim pengalaman, baru juga lepas kuliah awal tahun lalu). Alhamdulillah ada dua kelas yang diberikan. Yah meskipun harus memeriksa sekitar 70 essai mahasiswa dan belum dengan permasalahan copy paste serta tugas yang persis sama dari awal hingga akhir, tapi tetap saja nikmat rasanya bisa fokus sama mereka. Membaca setiap detail essainya dan memberi feedback mulai dari isi essay hingga cara penulisan dan referensi untuk setiap mahasiswa.

Hmm… saya sempat berpikir saat sedang memeriksa tugas mereka, sepertinya memang ada baiknya dosen tidak perlu mengambil/diberi banyak mata kuliah  atau banyak kelas agar bisa benar-benar fokus pada mahasiswanya. Fokus memberi materi, memberi dan memeriksa tugas, memberi bahan diskusi yang menarik. Apalagi,di luar sana kan dosen juga punya segudang tanggung jawab dan tugas yang mesti dipenuhi sebagai dosen (yang ini belum saya lewati karena masih anak baru, aktivitas lain saya hanya dapur dan les privat hehe..). Bukankah akan keren sekali rasanya ketika dosen benar-benar serius memberi dan memeriksa tugas mahasiswa. Memberi feedback di setiap tugas mereka untuk memberikan gambaran sebaik apa kualitas tugas yang mereka kerjakan.  Continue reading “Feedback Mahasiswa”

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Komunikasi Itu Penting di Keluarga

Saya belajar banyak dari beberapa peristiwa dan pengalaman keluarga yang ada di sekitar saya maupun yang pernah saya temui secara tidak sengaja. Entah kenapa sebagian besar masalah yang muncul diantara keluarga yang pernah saya temui, even keluarga saya sendiri adalah komunikasi dan keterbukaan antar anggota keluarga.

Diam seakan menjadi sebuah solusi terbaik dari setiap permasalahan dengan harapan diam akan membuat semuanya cepat kembali seperti semula. Diam tidak akan menambah masalah. Diam itu emas. Tapi dari apa yang saya lihat, justru diam bisa menjadi solusi yang tidak baik dan dapat menjadi bom waktu yang kapan saja bisa meledak ketika sudah dihadapkan pada masalah yang lebih besar lagi. Segala uneg-uneg dapat menjadi senjata ampuh di kemudian hari untuk menyerang lawan dengan alasan selama ini sudah menyimpannya terlalu lama. Padahal bukankah diam berarti memutus kesempatan komunikasi dan mencari solusi terbaiknya? Yah, walaupun diam memang bisa menjadikan suasana jauh lebih tentram. Tapi itu yang tampak kan? Continue reading “Komunikasi Itu Penting di Keluarga”

Posted in Discussion, Education, General Discussion, Math Education

The Sociomathematical Norms Should be adopted to Mathematical Classroom

Mathematics classroom is still bored and not interesting for many students. The success in mathematics classroom is determined by good collaboration among teacher and students. Good collaboration is more likely to be realized by creating a good classroom environment and implementing the suitable norms in specifically mathematical aspects, called sociomathematical norms. For over two decades, the research has been focused on the specific role of norms in students’ mathematical learning opportunities. This research has covered the investigating how norms negotiated among students and teacher and the power of norms in specific areas of mathematics (Van Zoest, Stockero, & Taylor, 2012).

Sociomathematical norms refer to the practices of participation and contribution of students as well as teacher in mathematics lesson. Sociomathematical norms are the normative aspects of mathematical discussion that are specific to the students’ mathematical activities (Yackel & Cobb, 1996). Wedege (2010) stated that sociomatematical norms combine mathematics, people and society. The implementation of these norms should be adopted in the mathematics classroom.  In this paper, the reasons why sociomathematicals norms are really important to adopt will be discussed.

In several countries many teachers do not concern about sociomathematical norms because sociomathematical norms have not been accepted as a part of classroom culture where a more traditional methodology is applied. Teachers do not really understand how to implement the sociomathematical norms in their classes. Teachers have little basis to anticipate other creative solutions from students. However, sociomathematical norms will help to revise the way teachers teach mathematics in class where they are used to use a more traditional methodology to teach mathematics. In implementing sociomathematical norms, teachers tend to be equal members of the mathematics class. Teacher is the center of learning discussion where students are hoped to have more contributions in discussion activities. In addition, teacher is a representative of the mathematics community in the class (Yackel & Cobb, 1996). This is because the teacher handles the discussion in mathematics classes and also is responsible for the development of mathematical classroom and students’ activities (McClain & Cobb, 2001). During the mathematics activities, teacher helps students in improving their abilities how to deliver their knowledge to solve mathematical problems.

Sociomathematical norms help students in developing their explanation and justification skill in learning process. Explanation and justification are related to the construction of individual aspects as well as social aspect. The sociomathematical norms make students focus on mathematical thinking rather than thinking about mathematics. They are not only expected to give answers but also they can explain their strategies to get the answer. Sociomathematical norms support high-level cognitive activity (Yackel & Cobb, 1996). In this case, teachers can give some interesting, well-discussed and problem-solving-based mathematical problems which can encourage students to give solutions, compare theirs to the other students’ solutions and even judge the similarities and differences leading to create high-level cognitive activity. Acceptable mathematical explanations and justifications also deal with the actual process of making a contribution and facilitating communication. Sociomathematical norms focus on developing the interaction among students and teachers. This is because while doing mathematics, teacher and students adhere to similar rules and norms (Tatsis & Koleza, 2008) which help them to achieve learning goals.

In conclusion, by implementing these norms, mathematical class is no longer a boring class to students. They will enjoy their mathematics when they can improve their mathematical skill by giving more contribution in classroom. Teacher plays an important role to develop the mathematical quality of classroom environment, to establish norms for mathematical aspects of students and also to make students more confident in participating in mathematical activity. Eventually, there will be more benefits to the successful of mathematical activities and students’ mathematical achievements.

Ummy Salmah

References

McClain, K., & Cobb, P. (2001). An analysis of development of sociomathematical norms in one first-grade classroom. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 32(3), 236.

Tatsis, K., & Koleza, E. (2008). Social and socio‐mathematical norms in collaborative problem‐solving. European Journal of Teacher Education, 31(1), 89-100. doi: 10.1080/02619760701845057

Van Zoest, L., Stockero, S., & Taylor, C. (2012). The durability of professional and sociomathematical norms intentionally fostered in an early pedagogy course. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 15(4), 293-315. doi: 10.1007/s10857-011-9183-y

Wedege, T. (2010). Sociomathematics: A subject field and a research field. http://dspace.mah.se/bitstream/handle/2043/10027/MES6-WedegeT.pdf?sequence=1

Yackel, E., & Cobb, P. (1996). Sociomathematical Norms, Argumentation, and Autonomy in Mathematics. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 27(4), 458-477. doi: 10.2307/749877

Posted in Discussion, Education

The Important of Prior Knowledge to Commence a New Topic in Science and Mathematics

 

Learning is the process of people explore and develop their way of thinking and also behaviour. Learning new things is also important for people. They need some things that support them to explore and support their process of learning. The process of building a new knowledge needs skills, belief, concept, and also prior knowledge that can help them to familiarize with their environment. Some people said that in learning a new topic or a new concept teacher has an important role to help students build their undertanding about this topic. However, prior knowledge also as important as teacher’s role in helping students deal with new topic. In this paper, I would like to consider the concept of student’s prior knowledge and the important of assessing student’s prior knowledge before studying.

Learning process is the process which personal ideas or meaning is constructed  and involve students’ prior knowledge and also experiences (Tytler, 2004). In learning process, conceptual learning related to the concept of developmental stages of children’s cognitive development (Tytler, 2004). It was developed by Jean Piaget. Many books and papers explaining about learning area have been written by him. He has an enormous contribution to educational research. There are four stages of cognitive development namely sensory-motor (birth to 2 years), preoperational (2 to 7 years), concrete operational (7 to 11 years) and formal operation (11 plus years) (Novak, 1978). In each step, Piaget was successful to describe the way children develop their cognitive domain. Although learners now can reveal different types of thinking in different context, Piaget’s ideas about the stages of cognitive domain of children thinking guide us to know that learners might be able to do some kinds of things that depend on their age rather than their skills (Goos, Stillman, & Vale, 2007).  During the late 1980s and 1990s, these views were introduced  as the constructivism.

Generally, constructivism is a practical idea which considers students as an active learners in the meaningful and essential process of learning and interpretation is important process to facilitate students in constructing their understanding (Cobern, 1993). In constructivism view the process of creating or inventing knowledge is an active process rather than a passively received process. (Booker, Bond, Sparrow, & Swan, 2014). In addition, to help students construct their individual knowledge, learning process may involved social processes such as discussion, argumentation, justification, and negotiation. Developing and constructing their ideas will not be able to be realized without good interaction with other students, teachers, and also their environment. In this way, teachers have very important and essential role because they can help students to improve their skills and build more powerful constructions as well as to develop their self motivation.

In the process of constructing a new knowledge, the successful learning outcomes also comes from the knowledge that learners or students have (Cobern, 1993; Curcio, 1981; McComas, 2014; Novak, 1978). They have this existing knowledge either from their experiences or learning environment. Existing knowledge or prior knowledge is not necessarily a product of formal education which means that it comes from the learning process in the classroom. However, it could be come from student’s experiences or individual exploration (Bransford & National Research, 2000). A case in point is some students have information or know something because they have visited some places or because they have experienced a traumatic condition or even their parents work in particular places. Using prior knowledge in introducing and explaining new topic to students is important part of learning process which teacher should be more concerned about. The important of prior knowledge will be described as follows.

Firstly, a lot of studies talk about that prior knowledge affects how the students perceive and organize new information (Curcio, 1981; Guo, Yang, & Ding, 2014; Matsuka & Sakamoto, 2007; McComas, 2014; Resnick, 1983). In learning process when teacher start the activity with terms and concepts, every students will have many various interpretations based on their existing knowledge either from their previous studies or experiences. Cobern (1993) states that prior knowledge can affect interpretation and interpretation is supported by discourse. As was pointed out in the cognitive development stages of Piaget, the different interpretations may occurs in every stages. Interpretation of new things depends on student’s mental schema. The existing knowledge that students have in their mental schema will help students to intrepret new terms and can build their understanding of the topic discussed. As the result, new information will organize well in their mental schema.

Secondly, prior knowledge also affects how easily students make connections for new information. In the process of learning, students will find lot of new information and therefore existing knowledge can help them to hook up with information that they achieve. They can connect every single information, which is of course appropriate, that already exists in their memory to the new information. The more connections, the easier it is to remember. For instance in studying the concept of fraction, students who have better basic knowledge in proportion, least common multiple, greater common divisor, multiplication, and some other concepts will be easier to undertstand fraction and any operation in fraction.  This is why the meaningful process will come when students can connect their previous knowledge to the new knowledge.

Furthermore, in particular subjects, for example mathematics and science, prior knowledge can also help students when they are working with examples (Rittle-Johnson, Star, & Durkin, 2009). Examples can improve students’ skills in problem solving. Appropriate prior knowledge can assist students to understand and compare some kinds of examples to solve mathematical problems in order to estabilish their critical aspects (Guo et al., 2014). In fact, students without existing knowledge will find difficulties in dealing with the tasks given because they must complete some new information before solving the task, whereas the students with appropriate prior kowledge can easily solving the task without overloading their working memory. Rittle-Johnson et al. (2009) in their study of investigating the influence of prior knowledge in using solution methods carry out the effectiveness of comparison in learning equation found that students with lower level of prior knowledge tent to understand examples step by step. By contrast, students with higher level of prior knowledge tend to understand and investigate the number of solving methods. Solving mathematical problems needs students’ skills in dealing with multiple ways to find the solutions. Therefore, students who bring their existing knowledge into the mathematical problems will easily understand and work with the possible solutions.

As have to be remembered that prior knowledge is not only neccessary for helping students exploring new topic but also it can be problematic as well. This is because, the prior knowledge which students bring into classroom cannot be guaranteed whether it can make learning meaningful or not. For example when students learn about how to measure length of objects using ruler, students consider that the lenght of this object can be representated by looking at the numbers in the ruler. The problem is that when they have to use the broken ruler, which the number is not started from 0, some students still use the same way and look at the number in the ruler. They do not recognize that their concept of lenght is  incorrect. Owing to this, teachers as the facilitator in learning activities should guide students with their various prior knowledge by giving some instructions. The role of teacher is to help students construct their ideas by solving the problem using their existing knowledge and make the classroom as the best place for them to explore new information, negotiate path to find the solutions, reflect on what has happened (Booker et al., 2014). Teachers will need to ask questions that challenge inappropriate ideas and generalisasiton, and create new problems that may help students to revise their previous constructions or ways of thinking. As have mentioned above, they are a guide as well as motivator to students. However, this is not an easy task to do because they have to deal with the students’ different condition in the classroom. “The challenge will then be to lead children to come to understand and accept this as a method of their own, rather than simply practising and acquiring by rote another person’s way of doing something” (Booker et al., 2014). Therefore, competence teacher needs to be a good guidance for students.

Another example of learning activities that show the important of using prior knowledge to help students successful in learning activies as well as teachers in improving their teaching quality is in topic of measuring angles. Teachers can guide students to understand how to measure angles using nonstandard units before using the standard units. They can start using something from students’ daily lives because it can make students more interested in doing the learning activities. Moreover, their prior knowledge also can come from their daily experiences. In teaching measuring angles teachers can use context of pizza (pizza pictures) as the starting point. Slices of pizza can be used as the nonstandard units to guide and introduce students about how to use standard units for example protractor. An angle measure constructed from a circle of pizza is helpful. Teachers can create some angles shape from pizza for example 900, 300, 450 and other angles and use them as nonstandard units. Students should have prior knowledge about kinds of angles and use it to build their understanding of measuring angles using protrator. By doing some meaningful activities using the context of pizza supported by their existing knowledge about angles, they will have a deep understanding of how to measure an angle using protractor as standard unit. In addition, teacher’s role is very important to facilitate students when they discuss and build their undertanding of this concept.

In conclusion, meaningful learning process can be started from constructing students knowledge. The idea of constructing knowledge that generally known as constructivism is developed based on the Piaget concept of developmental stages of children’s cognitive development. Constructivism looks learning process as the active process of creating knowledge. Constructing a new knowledge can be developed from knowledge which students have and bring to the classroom prior to commencing a new topic. Prior knowledge or existing knowledge might be coming from student’s experiences or their environment conditions. It enable to help students to accept, organize and connect the new information during the learning process. In adddition, prior knowledge can help students in comparing examples. However, the role of teacher is still important to guide and facilitate students develop their new knowledge. In the future, teacher should be more concerned about the prior knowledge of students and be more active to guide students in constructing and dealing with the new information. Teacher will be the main facilitator and also motivator for students in learning process.

Posted in Discussion, Education

History of the Field of Learning Environment

In the development of learning environments, there are some peoneers who have focused on the field of learning environment. Kurt Lewin and Murray are the first people who are concerned about classroom environment (Fraser, 1986). Their ideas used to work on educational research environment. Lewin (1936) admitted that dominant determinants of human behaviour is environment and the interaction with personal charactersitics. It was introduced in the formula B = f (P,E) which is emphasizes the need for research strategies in which behaviour is considered to be a function of the person and the environment (Fraser, 1986, 2012). Murray (1938) was the first person who followed Lewin’s approach. He introduced a needs-press model which created analogous representation of individual and her or his environment. Motivational personality characteristics describes personal needs (Fraser, 1986). On the other hand, enviromental press refers to external counterpart which determines the expression of internalized personality needs whether can be encouraged or discouraged (Fraser, 1986). Murray also proposed alpha press and beta press term as approach in educational environment. The environment as assessed by a detached observer was described by the term of alpha press, whereas the environment as perceived by milieu inhabitants was described by the term of beta press (Murray, 1938).

 

Stern has revived and explicated the theory of needs-press in his comprehensive book and widely cited articles (Fraser, 1986). Moreover, based on Murray’s work, Stern (1970) developed personal-environment congruence theory. In this theory, “complimentary combinations of personal needs and environment press could improve student outcomes” (Fraser, 1986).

 

The other pioneers in the development of learning environment who focused on research which involve assessment of perceptions of classroom environment (Fraser, 1986) are Herbert Walberg and Rudolf Moos. It was more than 40 years ago since Walberg evolved earlier versions of the widely used Learning Environment Inventory (LEI) in research. He was also involved in evaluation activities of Harvard Project Physics (Walberg & Anderson 1968). Moos, collaborated with Edison Trickett, developed the first of his social climate scales in which psychiatric hospital and correctional institutions used, which conclusively caused the development of the Classroom Environment Scale (CES) (Moos & Trickett, 1974). Moos’s scheme for classifying human environments is used as in classification of scales for learning environment instruments. There are three basic dimensions namely Relationship Dimensions, Personal Development Dimensions, and System Maintenance and System Change Dimensions (Fraser, 2012). Relationship Dimensions identify the nature and tension of personal relationship within the environment and assess people’s contributions to help the other one in their environment, while Personal Development Dimensions assess basic directions where personal growth and self-improvement appear. On the other hand, System Maintenance and System Change Dimensions involve the term how the environment is orderly, clear in expectations, is under control, and is responsive to change. In addition, all the learning environment instruments can be classify at least in one of the Moos’s scheme.