viernes, 23 de octubre de 2009

Statement of the problem

At Gimnasio de Los Cerros School, students follow a Spanish-English bilingual program which includes a science course from grade K to six which is divided in four major units: life science, earth science, physical science, and human body. This science course is taught in four sessions; three traditional teacher-centered lecture classes and one laboratory session every week. Most of these science classes are concerned with general terminology, scientific laws and methods, and they frequently include long lectures and readings. According to this program, students are expected to reach a full command of science concepts by grade six.

Regarding the way students are learning science at the moment, they do so by means of a traditional teacher-centered methodology of lectures and readings which places students in a passive rather than an active role that hinders learning. The current science classes are teacher-focused and revolve around giving out information about what is known. The emphasis is on the student's ability to recall facts and master the material in the science textbooks so that they may proceed to the next grade level. However, we know that memorizing facts and information is not the most important skill in today's world. Facts are constantly changing and thanks to our digital age, we are overwhelmed with information. The traditional learning approach does not provide students the skills needed for this new age of information or exercises the ability to examine and make sense of this avalanche of data. Students who actively make observations, collect, analyze and synthesize information, and draw conclusions are more likely to increase their autonomy awareness and develop the critical skills that they will need later on.

I decided to carry out this action research study, because during my experience teaching science classes in English to students from grades K to five at this bilingual school, I have observed what I consider a serious problem which is that, this traditional teacher-centered methodology used to teach science lessons does not help to develop students’ autonomy awareness as expected and it does not help to promote interest and positive attitudes toward science in students, since they do not take an active role in their science learning by asking questions or by carrying out science hands-on activities that lead them to have real experiences that enhance classroom learning, improved understanding and enjoyment of science. Students have become only recipients of science knowledge and therefore they are not given opportunities to study science in a way that encourages them to start becoming more autonomous learners.

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