Situation of hands-on method application to teaching Chemistry in junior high schools of Vietnam

Abstract. Renovating teaching methods is one of the urgent tasks of the education sector in Vietnam today. Along with the other active teaching methods being applied, the hands-on method has been studied by the Ministry of Education and Training, who has been compiling documents and organizing workshops for the Departments of Education and Training since 2011. However, the application of the hands-on method to teaching Chemistry in junior high schools has not been successful, or widely and solidly deployed, and it has proved to be unsuitable for the actual conditions of Vietnamese schools. The results survey of the application hands-on method to teaching chemistry in junior high schools of Vietnam will be introduced in this paper.

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HNUE JOURNAL OF SCIENCE DOI: 10.18173/2354-1075.2017-0128 Educational Sci., 2017, Vol. 62, Iss. 6, pp. 53-59 This paper is available online at SITUATION OF HANDS-ON METHOD APPLICATION TO TEACHING CHEMISTRY IN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOLS OF VIETNAM Le Thi Dang Chi1, Vo Van Duyen Em1, Tran Trung Ninh2 1Faculty of Chemistry, Quy Nhon University 1Faculty of Chemistry, Hanoi National University of Education Abstract. Renovating teaching methods is one of the urgent tasks of the education sector in Vietnam today. Along with the other active teaching methods being applied, the hands-on method has been studied by the Ministry of Education and Training, who has been compiling documents and organizing workshops for the Departments of Education and Training since 2011. However, the application of the hands-on method to teaching Chemistry in junior high schools has not been successful, or widely and solidly deployed, and it has proved to be unsuitable for the actual conditions of Vietnamese schools. The results survey of the application hands-on method to teaching chemistry in junior high schools of Vietnam will be introduced in this paper. Keywords: Hands-on method, chemistry teaching, junior high schools, actual situation, Vietnam. 1. Introduction The hands-on method, in French: La main à la pâte, abbreviation: LAMAP, is a scientific method of teaching based on researches and studies, to be applied to the teaching science. This method was initiated by Professor Georges Charpak (Physics Nobel Prize in 1992). It is known as a method of creating positive and active learning among students. Students have to do their own experiments to acquire scientific knowledge. They approach scientific knowledge as a process of doing research on their own. The role of the teacher in this method is not to transfer scientific knowledge in form of lectures and presentations but rather to help build knowledge by collaborating with students [1, 2, 5, 6]. Science education is one of the basic, essential tasks of general education to develop students’ common capacities and their scientific capacities. Science education must ensure that every student is active, and manage to learn new knowledge on their own. The knowledge and skills they acquire will stay long-lasting and will promote curiosity, excitement and interests in science. As a result, students will train in own methods of study and scientific research [4, 6, 8]. Therefore the Hands-on method plays an important role in developing the creative problem solving capacity of the student. The teacher’s role in the organization of the Hands-on method is very important, while the teaching staff in junior high schools have not been trained properly and have not had many training courses to enhance their teaching capacity; the number of students in a classroom Received date: 10/3/2017. Published date: 17/5/2017. Contact: Tran Trung Ninh, e-mail: trantrungninh@gmail.com 53 Le Thi Dang Chi, Vo Van Duyen Em, Tran Trung Ninh is overcrowded, etc. These are the difficulties and obstacles in the process of implementing the Hands-on method. Therefore, in the hand-over conference on the Project “Implementing the Hands-on method in general education schools in the period 2011 – 2015”, the Ministry of Education and Training issued the Official Letter No. 3535/BGDDT-GDTrH guiding the implementation of the Hands-on method in general education schools [3]. 2. Content 2.1. Method, duration and aims of the study To investigate the actual situation of the application of the hands-on method to chemistry teaching in junior high schools, we collected opinions of 86 teachers of chemistry and 965 students in 27 junior high schools in the provinces of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Quang Ngai, Gia Lai, and Kon Tum by questionnaire, class observations and interviews with over 17 experienced teachers of chemistry. The survey lasted from March 2016 to March 2017. The contents of the questionnaire aimed to: - Investigate the methods of teaching chemistry commonly used in junior high schools. - Get to know about the teachers’ interest in the Hands-on method and their comments on this method. - Investigate the skills required of students by the hands-on method. The survey was conducted by questionnaire among teachers and students. After collecting the completed questionnaires, we performed data synthesis, data processing and analysis, and obtained the following results: 2.2. Results and comments 2.2.1. Methods of teaching chemistry commonly used in junior high schools Table 1. Commonly used methods of teaching chemistry Teaching methods Frequency Very often Often Sometimes Never Presentation 18 54 12 2 Dialogue 34 46 6 0 Chemistry exercises 31 51 4 0 Problem based learning 6 22 56 2 Chemistry experiments 0 33 47 6 Hands-on 1 5 12 68 Team work 6 16 57 7 Project-based learning 0 9 57 20 Contract-based learning 2 18 54 12 Corner work 0 6 35 45 Table 1 shows that various teaching methods have been used. However, traditional teaching methods such as presentation and dialogue are still often and very often used. Active teaching 54 Situation of hands-on method application to teaching chemistry... Fig. 1. Chart of commonly used methods of teaching chemistry methods such as team work, project-based learning and contract-based learning are used at an infrequent level or not used. In particular, most teachers sometimes or never use the Hands-on method, which proves that the use of active teaching methods in teaching chemistry, especially the Hands-on method, is not popular. Fig. 2. Chart of the frequency of using the Hands-on method 2.2.2. Teachers’ concern about the Hands-on method Many teachers already know about the Hands-on method, but most have not bravely used it in their teaching. In the interviews, teachers agreed on the following causes: - The equipment, tools and chemicals of the school do not meet the requirements of the Hands-on method. - Teachers are afraid to apply the new method because it takes time and effort. - Lack of supporting materials. - Crowded classes cause difficulties to group work and management. - Poor group work skills among students. However, most teachers claim to apply the Hands-on method to chemistry teaching, especially for lessons that need experiments. When asked for their opinions about lessons using the Hands-on method, many teachers expressed their preference for the new method to normal lessons. Most of the teachers who had used this method said the Hands-on method made students more motivated, more active, and helped develop students’ abilities such as problem solving ability and creativity. 55 Le Thi Dang Chi, Vo Van Duyen Em, Tran Trung Ninh Table 2. Assessment of lessons using the Hands-on method Assessments Agree Disagree Students are more active 17 1 Students are more interested in study 17 1 Lessons are more lively and attractive 18 0 Students are more confident, active and creative 18 0 Quality of the lessons is enhanced 16 2 Students’ problem solving ability is developed 15 3 Students’ abilities for experimental practice are developed 14 4 Fig. 3. Assessment of lessons using the Hands-on method 2.2.3. Students’ learning skills required by the Hands-on method We exchanged ideas with chemistry teachers, visited classes and conducted surveys for the purpose of: - Investigating students’ existing chemistry learning skills. - Investigating students’ self-assessment of the chemistry learning skills required by the Hands-on method. - Having class observations, interviews, observing the process of chemistry teaching and learning in junior high schools. - Learning about students’ wishes in the process of learning chemistry. - Learning about the advantages and disadvantages of teachers when applying modern 56 Situation of hands-on method application to teaching chemistry... teaching methods in general, and the Hands-on method in particular. Setting the levels: None (1), not good (2), good (3), very good (4), when preparing the questionnaire about the students’ learning skills required by the Hands-on method was a reference to the Learning Activity levels on different aspects of an active learning activity [9]. The survey results are in Table 3,4 and Figure 4: Table 3. Students’ learning skills required by the Hands-on method Component skills Very good (4) Good (3) Not good (2) None (1) 1. Skills in taking notes in notebooks 94 488 354 29 2. Skills in group work 82 257 598 28 3. Sills in expressing ideas 55 382 503 25 4. Skills in suggesting research questions in learning 37 129 550 249 5. Skills in proposing experimental alternatives in doing research 28 232 507 197 6. Skills in performing experiments 63 421 387 94 7. Skills in drawing new knowledge 57 317 491 100 8. The skill in comparing newly drawn knowledge with the original symbol 54 386 388 137 Fig. 4. Chart: Students’ learning skills required by the Hands-on method In spite of the common tendency of self-assessment as higher than the actual results, most of the chemistry learning skills by the Hands-on method are not good. This shows that the use of active teaching methods such as the Hands-on method in chemistry teaching is necessary to 57 Le Thi Dang Chi, Vo Van Duyen Em, Tran Trung Ninh develop learning skills in particular, and to develop abilities among students in general, especially problem solving ability and creativity. Through investigations, surveys and class observations, we found that students begun to discuss among themselves, answer teachers’ questions, use some tools, and do some simple experiments. However, in addition to certain advantages, chemistry teaching also revealed weak points. In quality. Most children do not master the required knowledge after each lesson. To the question “What do you do if you come across a hard chemistry problem?” The common answer was: Wait for the teacher or friend to answer. This shows that problem solving ability and creativity of the majority of students is limited. Table 4. Students’ attitudes to problems in study and in reality Attitudes Number of students Thinking over, using and looking up for information to explain or find out solutions. 276 Feeling hard and refusing to think 54 Waiting for teachers or friends’ answers 607 Indifferent 28 Fig. 5. Chart: Students’ attitudes to problems in study and in reality During class observations we saw the lessons were not lively with dull atmosphere. Students were not willing to search for knowledge so many of them lacked concentration. They rarely asked questions and were very confused about chemical phenomena. Their practical skills were awkward and did not know how to use many experiment tools. It was quite a distance between knowledge collected and practices because they lacked experimental skills. Students did not have the habit of recording what they observed, and they were weak at determining the purposes of the experiments and the purposes of observation. Therefore their ability to explain the problem was limited. 2.3. Global assessment of the actual situation From the above analysis, we have come to the following remarks: - The modern teaching methods have been put into practice by teachers in their chemistry lessons but most teachers are still confused about how to manage with their lessons so much that they tend to go back to the methods of explanation and presentation. As for students, the main reason that children are not interested in the lessons is that they cannot speak up their minds, 58 Situation of hands-on method application to teaching chemistry... have few chances to do experiments but have to memorize a lot of knowledge. This limits the development of students’ existing abilities, such as problem solving ability and creativity. Therefore, the use of new teaching methods allowing students to express their opinions in the respect of the class and protect their views by proposing and conducting experiments on their own will be able to develop in the students important skills and encourage creativity in study as well as in real life. This is also the process and goals of the Hands-on method. 3. Conclusion The surveys showed that the implementation of new teaching methods should be considered in various aspects. It is particularly necessary to apply modern teaching methods to chemistry teaching to help students develop comprehensive skills as required. The Hands-on method has been applied in many countries around the world, but at present in Vietnam it is implemented only in some provinces. According to our survey, many teachers knew about this method, but they were not confident enough to apply it to their lessons as they felt it difficult to implement. In addition, the students’ learning skills in the Hands-on method were also very limited. Therefore, it is necessary to take sound measures to help teachers and students manage this method conveniently and effectively in teaching and learning so as to develop fully students’ abilities, especially the creative problem solving capacity. REFERENCES [1] Nguyen Thi Minh An, 2015, Using the Hands-on method in teaching chemistry for 8th grade of junior high school, Journal of Science, Ho Chi Minh City University of Education, No. 8 (74), pp. 94-102 (in Vietnamese). [2] Georger Charpak (chief editor) (Translator: Dinh Ngoc Lan), 1999, Hands-on method – Science in Elementary School, Education Publishing House, Hanoi (in Vietnamese). [3] Ministry of Education and Training, Official Letter 3535 / BGDDT-GDTrH (in Vietnamese). [4] Cao Thi Thang, Le Ngoc Vinh, 2014, Designing assessment tool set for the Hands-on teaching method applied to chemistry teaching, Journal of Education, 341, September 1, pp. 51-53 (in Vietnamese). [5] Do Huong Tra, 2013, Lamap, a modern teaching method, Publishing House of Hanoi National University of Education, Hanoi (in Vietnamese). [6] Thai Duy Tuyen, 1992, Some modern issues of teaching theory, Vietnam Institute of Educational Sciences, Hanoi (in Vietnamese). [7] Le Ngoc Vinh, Cao Thi Thang, 2014, Designing and organizing active chemistry teaching activities of the Hands-on teaching method to improve teaching effectiveness. Journal of Educational Sciences, Vol. 109, pp. 52-55 (in Vietnamese). [8] Dang Tran Xuan, 2013, Applying the “Hands-on method” to chemistry teaching in junior high schools, Vietnam Journal of Chemistry and Applications, 5 (21), p. 14-18 (in Vietnamese). [9] Innovative Teaching and Learning Research, 2012, ITL LEAP21 Learning activity rubrics, 2012, www.itlresearch.com. 59