ACTRC researchers presented five papers at the International Conference on Science and Mathematics Education held at the National Institute of Science and Mathematics Education Development, UP Diliman, 28-30 October 2014. Centre Director Dr Esther Care presented a plenary paper, ‘Perspectives on Assessment,’ in which she focused on a “spirit of inquiry”. She showed how consideration of research results from large multi-country studies can usefully be considered when thinking about the changing teaching and assessment practices that are associated with a move to competence or skills-based curricula. She illustrated this move by describing approaches to assessment of two skills – science inquiry and collaborative problem solving – considering the focus of the K-12 curriculum reform on the importance of understanding and application.
The Centre’s Program Leader for Curriculum, Dr Marlene Ferido, presented a parallel session, ‘Grade 8 Science Teachers’ Conceptions of the Nature of Science Inquiry,’ in which she drew attention to the critical role of science teachers’ practices, beliefs and attitudes in curriculum implementation with particular reference to the Philippines’ new science curriculum, which emphasises the development of science inquiry skills in students. Project researcher Ben Barayuga also presented on science inquiry in a paper entitled ‘Aspects of Grade 8 Science Curriculum Implementation and Science Inquiry Practices in the Classroom.’ He reported on classroom observations of science teaching, noting some constraints on classroom delivery that provide opportunities for improvement in the implementation of the new curriculum.
ACTRC’s research team on Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) was represented at the conference by Dr Romylyn Metila, who delivered a paper entitled ‘Teaching Math and Science in the Mother Tongue: Challenges, Strategies and Perceived Effects.’ Dr Metila reported on strategies used by science and math teachers within the MTB-MLE program and fielded questions about the transition from mother tongue to Filipino and English in the upper primary school years. She provided examples of teaching strategies that draw on pupils’ knowledge of several languages, helping to develop metalinguistic awareness and smooth the road for the transition from mother tongue instruction.
Two researchers from the LearnARMM (Longitudinal Study of Learning Achievement in ARMM) team, Yayi Fua and Sabrina Par, presented a paper entitled ‘Using Content Knowledge and Item Analysis in the Construction of an Early Grades Mathematics Assessment Tool’ in which they described the process of developing a numeracy test for Kinder and Grade 1 children, showing how content specialist knowledge contributed to understanding of the statistical item response information from piloting the test across ARMM provinces.
Grade 8 Science Teachers’ Conceptions of the Nature of Science Inquiry, Dr Marlene Ferido
Dr Marlene Ferido, Program Leader for Curriculum at ACTRC and Project Leader of the Centre’s Science Inquiry project, presented a parallel session on Grade 8 Science Teachers’ Conceptions of the Nature of Science Inquiry. Dr Ferido drew attention to the critical role of the science teacher’s practices, beliefs, and attitudes in curriculum implementation. She emphasised the importance of understanding teachers’ conceptions of the nature of science inquiry, since the new science curriculum requires that science teachers view teaching and learning in a way that will lead to the development of science inquiry skills among students. Grade 8 science teachers’ personal views of the nature of science inquiry, as drawn from the Centre’s ongoing study, were varied. Most of the 22 teachers from 11 DepEd schools responded with ideas consistent with science inquiry as a teaching approach used to develop students’ science inquiry skills. These included allowing students to do tasks on their own, engage in activities and hands-on work, gather evidence through observations and experiments, and derive answers, explanations and conclusions. Some teachers regarded science inquiry as a discovery approach and one described it as the 5E instructional model. Dr Ferido put forward implications of these different conceptions in the light of curriculum intentions and teacher training.
Aspects of Grade 8 Science Curriculum Implementation and Science Inquiry Practices in the Classroom, Ben Barayuga
Discussing early results of the Science Inquiry project, researcher Ben Barayuga presented a session on aspects of curriculum delivery focusing on the teacher as curriculum implementer. His presentation was based on 205 classroom observations of 22 Grade 8 science teachers. The presentation showed how and in what ways the teachers’ capacity to implement the new science curriculum was influenced by teacher training, access to and use of curriculum documents and materials, and available school resources. The research data revealed science inquiry practices commonly observed among the teachers and these were classified into a hypothesized progression of science inquiry teaching approaches.
Teaching Math and Science in the Mother Tongue: Challenges, Strategies and Perceived Effects, Dr Romylyn Metila
Representing the research team on the Centre’s MTB-MLE project, now in its second phase, Dr Romylyn Metila presented a paper focused on strategies that math and science teachers were found to use in visited schools in the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education program and the perceived effects of these strategies on teachers’ instruction/lesson preparation and pupils’ performance. In response to a question from the floor regarding linguistic diversity and the need for clear guidelines on the transition to English and Filipino instruction in Grades 4 to 6, Dr Metila provided examples of identified classroom strategies that draw on pupils’ knowledge of several languages, helping to develop metalinguistic awareness and smooth the road for transition from lessons in the mother tongue.
Using Content Knowledge and Item Analysis in the Construction of an Early Grades Mathematics Assessment Tool, Yayi Fua and Sabrina Par
Yayi Fua and Sabrina Par presented a paper entitled ‘Using Content Knowledge and Item Analysis in the Construction of an Early Grades Mathematics Assessment Tool’ in which they described the process of developing a mathematics test for Kinder and Grade 1 children in ARMM. The presentation showed how content specialist knowledge and statistical item response information work together to create a numeracy test. In the initial test development, content knowledge from subject specialists is used to develop test items by psychometricians. Analysis of responses from students to these items provides insight into how well the items measure the targeted content and skills. This statistical analysis undertaken together with discussion of the items by the content specialists provides information essential for the finalization of the tests. The results from these tests are provided within a developmental progression structure which describes levels of skill in increasing proficiency.