I have been thinking that the world in unfair.  Why do grade 6 students in Singapore perform better in math than Filipino counterparts?  Research has accurately found some answers – that learning happens in many ways, even in educational settings.   I realised the importance of educational research in improving and revising theory and practice to reflect the emerging needs of different learners. What science discovered in the functioning of the brain has affected the way education systems develop the curriculum, instruction and assessment methods (Gredler, 2008).

It is amazing how revolutions in scientific studies of the mind and brain, on the process of thinking and learning  and on the neural processes for development of competence continues to generate important evidences that shape education systems. Piaget’s development epistemology theory laid the foundations for four distinct stages for intellectual development from infancy to adulthood. Piaget’s observations that children are “little scientist,” actively exploring the world, has been widely used as basis for advocacy on the importance of ECCD.  Bandura’s social-cognitive theory, brought out the influence of models and other environmental and personal factors on behaviour.  Many education reform platforms have talked about evidenced-based practice.  What does this mean to a teacher in Philippines public school?

As I reflect on the importance of research in education, I kept thinking – how realistic is the proposition for making the teacher as researcher (Plano Clark and Creswell, 2010)?  We all know that teachers have to handle as many as 60 pupils in urban schools or about 30 multi-grade pupils in remote villages.  Do teachers have the competencies to (i) form hypothesis, (ii) make observations, (iii) refine a theory and (iv) develop a theory?

As a future teacher, I wish to take the challenge that I can be an effective teacher-researcher.  I have outlined below a list of research questions that I will investigate:

  • How is the use of the local language affecting the performance of pupils in mathematics? I will use both quantitative and qualitative research methods.  Some inferential statistics as well as in depth analysis of how kids use the local language to express themselves in math will be undertaken.
  • How is group work influencing the study habits and performance of pupils in grade 6 science? I will use quantitative research methods, as I record observations on the behaviours and performance of the pupils.

Despite the hardwork that teachers undertake in actual teaching, I strongly believe that the teacher already has the opportunity to use the classroom as a research laboratory.  In fact, the benefits of such action research in the classroom are immediate as the teacher is able to refine own teaching strategy that fits the learning styles of the pupils.

Going back on my earlier question, it is well known that children in Singapore benefit from researches such as understanding the development of students’ problem-solving and critical thinking skills (RECSAM).  How I wish that education research will also gain prominence in the Philippines not for academic purposes but more to inform policy and practice in our schools.

References:

1. Gredler, M.E. (2008).Chapter 1 Introduction. of Learning and Instruction: Theory into Practice  (6th ed.). NJ: Prentice-Hall. Retrieved from http://human- learning.wikispaces.com/Chapter+1+Introduction

2. Hammond, LD, Austin, K., Orcutt, S. & Rosso, J.  (2001). How People Learn:  Introduction To Learning Theories http://www.stanford.edu/class/ed269/hplintrochapter.pdf

3. Mathematical Modelling as Problem Solving for Children in the Singapore Mathematics Classrooms http://www.recsam.edu.my/R&D_Journals/YEAR2009/june2009vol1/mathmodelling%2836-61%29.pdf

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