THE problem-solving ability of local students are quite weak and educators should adjust how they present their lessons to overcome this challenge, a scholar highlighted yesterday.
Professor Harkirat S Dhindsa, from the Department of Science and Mathematics Education, at the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education (SHBIE) of Universiti Brunei Darussalam told The Brunei Times that in order to improve students' problem-solving ability, teachers should adopt a problem-based teaching approach in presenting their lessons.
"The method had been practised in other countries and is getting more popular, but not here," he remarked.
The lecturer presented a working paper, entitled "Using Problem-Based Teaching to Integrate Scientific Concepts in Learners' Memory", during the third SHBIE Annual Seminar/Workshop in Education, at the university from November 19 until 21, this year.
In the working paper, he stated that problem-based teaching is a powerful teaching technique.
This technique involves teachers using real-world problems to motivate students in identifying and applying research and available information, working cooperatively within groups and communicating effectively.
It is, therefore, a strategy that promotes life-long habits of learning.
Simply put, the technique requires students to apply the knowledge that they already know and combine it with additional information from their own research, Prof Harkirat explained.
In his presentation, he quoted a publication from Checkly (1997), which defined problem-based learning (PBL) as a powerful vehicle for authentic, inquiry-based learning, in which a real-world problem becomes a context for students to investigate, in depth, what they need to know and want to know.
One of the key features of a PBL was that the learning should be initiated with a problem, in which most of the common teaching methods starts with a description of the topic and facts.
According to Prof Harkirat, the best way for students to learn science is to experience problems that challenge science, and the thought, habits of mind and actions associated with trying to solve them.
This is the time when the technique becomes the main choice.
In another working paper presented during the three-day seminar, critical thinking was identified as being able to help students to develop the ability to think and therefore, making them more capable of problem-solving.
Dr Abdullah Mohd Noor, from the Department of Educational Foundation in his paper Kemahiran Berfikir Merentasi Kurikulum Sekolah Rendah (Thinking Skills Beyond the Primary School Curriculum), emphasised the importance of being able to think, as this can prepare the pupils for future problem-solving, decision-making and life-long learning.
He also noted in another paper that developing a thinking culture in the classroom is very necessary.
"Since the wealth of a nation lies in its peoples, it is wise and logical that the (thinking) should be the focus of any educational development," he wrote.The Brunei Times
Sunday, December 9, 2007
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