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Child Science Skill Improvement through Hands-On Learning Activities in Kindergarten with Limited Human Resources and Facilities

Rukiyah, Marlina, Mohammad Kanedi
American Journal of Educational Research. 2017, 5(5), 540-545. DOI: 10.12691/education-5-5-10
Published online: May 26, 2017

Abstract

The early childhood education (ECE) curriculum in Indonesia, either explicitly or implicitly, includes science skills as one of the basic competencies that children must achieve. However, under the pretext of lack availability of facilities, majority of educators have not carry out science learning appropriately. This study aimed to demonstrate and convince early childhood education practitioners that an interesting and effective learning to develop science process skills of children can be implemented even in a kindergarten with limited facilities. By using one-shot case study design, 17children of Group B (aged 5-6 years) at Srijaya Kindergarten of Palembang were exposed to hands-on activities including exploring materials that float or sink, dissolved or unsoluble, color mixing; making letters using play dough; and observing insects with magnifying glass. The child science skills were observed and assessed using observational forms and child worksheets. The results showed 9 (52.95%) subjects obtained scores range 80-100; 4 (23.5%) achieved score range of 66-79, 3 (17.6%) reached score range of 56-65, and 1 (5.9%) obtained score of 52. Thus, it can be concluded that science learning with a process skill approach proved to be effective for developing children's science skills, even in kindergartens with limited facilities such as in Srijaya Kindergarten of Palembang.

1. Introduction

Referring to UNESCO and UNICEF the so called early childhood education (ECE) is a range of processes and mechanisms that sustain and support development during the early years of life that encompasses education, physical, social and emotional care, intellectual stimulation, health care and nutrition 1, 2. In Indonesia, ECE has more or less definition as above that is a coaching effort aimed at the child from birth up to the age of 6 (six) years conducted through the provision of stimuli education to foster physical growth and development spiritually so that children have readiness in entering further education. Early childhood education is held before the level of basic education and can be conducted through formal, non-formal, and informal education paths. Kindergarten (children of 4 – 6 years) is an early childhood education in the path of formal 3, 4.

As a formal form of education system, kindergartens have a planned intentional curriculum and appropriate teaching strategies that can lead children to achievement of the performance standards identified in the Regulation of the Minister of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia Number 146 of 2014 on ECE Curriculum. The kindergarten’s curriculum contains four core competencies one of which reads as follows "recognizing self, family, friends, educators, the environment, religion, technology, art, and culture at home, playground and kindergarten units by: observing with senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching); ask; collect information; reasoning; and communicating through play activities”. This core competence is further elaborated into basic competencies that includes the scientific process skills. The scientific process skills include knowing the surrounding objects (names, colors, shapes, sizes, patterns, properties, sounds, textures, functions, and other characteristics); the natural environment (animals, plants, weather, soil, water, or rocks); and simple technology (home appliances, play equipment, or carpentry tools) 5.

Such basic competencies are depicting awareness and good intentions of educational policy makers about the importance of science process skills in early childhood education. As has been suggested, at least six reasons supporting the idea that even small children should be exposed to science. First, children naturally enjoy observing and thinking about nature. Second, exposing students to science develops positive attitudes towards science. Third, early exposure to scientific phenomena leads to better understanding of the scientific concepts studied later in a formal way. Fourth, the use of scientifically informed language at an early age influences the eventual development of scientific concepts. Fifth, children can understand scientific concepts and reason scientifically. Sixth, science is an efficient means for developing scientific thinking 6. In short, especially in the context of ECE services, science process is not just useful in science, but in any situation that requires critical thinking 7.

However, in the Indonesian context, there are three main issues of ECE services including: lack of qualified educators; lack of infrastructure and facilities; and low awareness within the community and in local government. These weaknesses ultimately lead to inadequate learning outcomes as set out in the curriculum and expected by the parents who want their children's intelligence is developed and their attitudes improve 8. Various studies, either aimed at improving educational policies or services, found that the majority of educators in most educational unit of all levels are less skilled in demonstrating an effective and interesting science learning process 9, 10. Based on the preliminary survey prior to this study, such a trend is also found in Srijaya Kindergarten of Palembang. As a note, Palembang is the second largest city on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.

The limited availability of infrastructure and facilities on the one hand, and the lack ability of educators on the other hand, raises the question how can science process skills be achieved by children? This study intended to demonstrate as well as to convince early childhood education practitioners in developing countries like Indonesia that even in a limited availability of facilities, an interesting and effective science learning trough process skill approach can be provided.

2. Methods

2.1. Research Subjects

The study was conducted during the period of September 2016 at the Kindergarten Srijaya of Palembang. The kindergarten provide services to two groups of children, A (aged 4-5 years) and B (aged 5-6 years). Children of group B, consisted of ten boys and seven girls, were selected purposively as the research subjects.

2.2. Research Design

By using one-shot case study design the subjects were exposed to the classroom activities as follows: water play, dough play and observing insects as the independent variables. The science process skills and degree of changes achieved by children were observed and measured as the dependent variables of research.

2.3. Treatments
2.3.1. Teacher Training

One week before classroom learning implementation, the researcher provides teacher a brief training on science learning using process skill approach, especially about water play, dough play and insect observation.


2.3.2. Classroom Implementation

In this study there were three classroom teaching activities asked to be implemented by teacher once a week for three weeks. The themes, activities and materials of each classroom lesson are indicated in Table 1.

2.4. Observation and Assessment
2.4.1. Science Process Skills

During classroom learning took place, researchers observed the activities of children and made video recordings. Science process skills of each child were scored in an observation sheet as shown in Table 2.

The children science process skill was expressed as a mark determined by Equation 1 bellow.

(1)

where

• Pc is the science process skill mark;

• Process score is the score obtained by children as described in Table 2;

• Maximum score is 4.


2.4.2. Science Product Skills

To assess science product skills achieved by children, at the end of each classroom learning, researchers asked teacher to deliver a post test using instrumens/methods as shown in Table 3.

The children science product skill was expressed as a mark determined by Equation 2 bellow.

(2)

where

• Pd is the science product skill mark;

• Product score is the score of post test obtained by children as describe in Table 3;

• Maximum score is 100.


2.4.3. Science Skills

The children science skill was expressed as a grade determined by summing the marks of science process skills (Formula 1) and science product skills (Formula 2) by Equation 3 bellow.

(3)

where

• G is the final grade of children science skill;

• Pc is the science process skill mark;

• Pd is the science product skill mark.

2.5. Statistical Analysis

The data of children science skills obtained from the study were presented as frequency distribution. The normality of data distribution was tested using Shapiro-Wilk method, whereas the hypothesis reliability was tested using One Sample Test using t-distribution table at the degree of freedom (df) n-1. The statistical application used in the analyis was SPSS program type 20.

3. Results

The results of observation and assesment of the science process skill, science product skill, and scientific skill of each individual child after attend the three science classroom lessons are presented in Table 4. The histogram for the frequency distribution of the grade scale describing children’s scientific skills are depicted in Figure 1. The results of normality test for the frequency distribution of the data in Figure 1 are presented in Table 5, and the results of test of hypotheses for children’s scientific skills grade scales are presented in Table 6.

Given the asymptotic significance value of children’s scientific skills grade (0.935) that much higher than α=0.05, it suggests that the frequency of children’s scientific skills grade was distributed normally. Next, test of hypotheses for children science skill grades resulted in t-value of the data (17.809) that much higher than that of t-crit (1.74) so it can be stated that the treatments positively contribute in changing children science skill.

Overall, the science skill changes achieved by children of group B at the Srijaya Kindergarten of Palembang at the end of research treatments, the science learning by process skill approach, summarized in Table 7. Based on the table, none of the 17 subjects falling into the category failed, only one was poor, only 3 were sufficient (fair), while the rest are good and very good.

4. Discussion

The data of this study indicate, among 17 research subjects, there are three children who achieve learning outcomes in the category of sufficient (fair) and one child with low (poor) learning outcomes.What was wrong with these four children? From Table 5 it was found that participant who achieved poor outcome is child number 12, while three children who achieved sufficient changes were children number 7, 15 and 16. Re-checking on the observation sheets of child's learning activities and the child worksheets (postest) results in the following facts. Child number 7 did not attend the first lesson (water play), child number 12 was absent in the third lesson (using magnifier to observe cricket), child number 15 was absent in the second lesson (play with dough), while child number 16 did not attend the third lesson. It seems that the lower achievement of the four children is not necessarily related to technical aspects of the method/approach of the science lesson applied, but more related to statistical data gap. The absence of such children leads to a lack of observational and posttest data so that the child's average score is low. Thus, it can be suggested that the science skills grade achieved by 75% of participants, good and very good categories, are the true picture of the impact of science learning applied in this study.

The results of this study are not surprising, but merely confirm and verify the theories of benefit of the process skill approach in science learning. By its characteristics, the learning applied in this study is a hands-on learning model, which by Haury and Rillero 11 defined as any instructional approach involving activity and direct experience with natural phenomena or any educational experience that actively involve children in manipulating objects to gain knowledge or understanding. By involving children in an enjoyable "hands-on" science activities, they have chance to develop their skills in both inquiry and mathematics. As suggested, children begin to construct scientific concepts during their preschool years 12. Like scientists, even four-year-old children observe, pose questions, hypothesize, and have some understanding of cause and effect 13, 14.

All three classroom learning implemented in this study, giving students opportunities to learn through play, play with water, dough, and insects. Water play is one among well known teaching practice adopted by early childhood education practitioner all over the world to approach sinking/floating concepts, due to the effectiveness in facilitating child's curiousity 15 and allowing children to develop their science concept and problem solving skills 16, 17. Through the dough play and observing insect, the child has experience in comparing caharacteristics of objects to discover similarities and differences as a fundamental process skill 18. Through a playful science learning children do not necessarily reach an understanding of the concepts of natural sciences, but through play, children get on better science skills than those learn sicence trough minds-on 19, 20.

Apart from the effectiveness of the learning approaches applied in this one-shot case study, researchers are very proud to hear the testimony of teachers implementing the learning applied in this research. Ms Widiami, the implementing teacher, said “Frankly, I was deeply touched to see the children so enthusiastic and happy to follow the classroom learning such as implemented in these three weeks. These experiences has make me aware that there are many things we could do in a limited availability of facilities to educate our children appropriately.” The depiction of the classroom atmosphere and the enthusiasm of the child following the lesson as revealed by the implementing teacher can be seen in Figure 2.

Based on the children process skill, product skill and science skill achieved by children during and upon classroom learning and the testimonies of the implementing teachers it can be concluded as follows. Science learning with a process skill approach proves to be effective for developing children's science skills, even in kindergartens with limited facilities such as in Srijaya Kindergarten of Palembang. Given Palembang is a big city in Indonesia, while in it is still a kindergarten with teachers who unfamilar with learning using process skill approach it can be imagined what kind of early childhood learning in small towns and villages of this country. It is therefore the regular teacher training important to be considered.

Acknowledgments

Authors are grateful to Dra. Hasmalena, M.Pd, the Head of Srijaya Kindergarten of Palembang, for her kind supports.

References

[1]  UNESCO and UNICEF. 2012. Asia-Pacific End of Decade Notes on Education for All. EFA Goal 1: Early Childhood Care and Education. Published by UNESCO Bangkok, UNICEF EAPRO and UNICEF ROSA.55 pages.
In article      
 
[2]  Ngaka W., Openjuru G., Mazur R.E. Exploring Formal and Non-formal Education Practices for Integrated and Diverse Learning Environments in Uganda. The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, 2012; 11(6): 109-121.
In article      View Article
 
[3]  Undang-undang Republik Indonesia No.20 tahun 2003 tentang Sistem Pendidikan Nasional (Law 20/2003 concerning the National Education System). http://sindikker.dikti.go.id/dok/UU/UU20-2003-Sisdiknas.pdf.
In article      View Article
 
[4]  RTI International. 2009. Study of the Legal Framework for the Indonesian Basic Education Sector: Second Edition, September 2009: 128 pages. http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/Pnadt232.pdf.
In article      View Article
 
[5]  Regulation of the Minister of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia Number 146 Year 2014 on Early Childhood Education Curriculum. http://hukor.kemdikbud.go.id/diknasrokum/index.php/peraturan-perundangan.
In article      View Article
 
[6]  Eshach, H. & Fried, M.N. (2005). Should Science be Taught in Early Childhood?. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 14(3), 315-336.
In article      View Article
 
[7]  Worth K. 2010. Science in Early Childhood Classrooms: Content and Process. Collected Papers from the SEED (STEM in Early Education and Development) Conference May 2010, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA. Published Fall 2010. http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/beyond/seed/index.html.
In article      View Article
 
[8]  ACDP Indonesia. 2015. Development of Quality Assurance for Early Childhood Education. Final Report, 2015; (ACDP-022): 35 pages. http://www.acdp-indonesia.org/.
In article      View Article
 
[9]  UNICEF Indonesia. Issue Briefs: Education & Early Childhood Development (ECD), 2012: 6 pages. https://www.unicef.org/indonesia/A3-_E_Issue_Brief_Education_REV.pdf
In article      View Article
 
[10]  Roza M.M. Pelaksanaan Pembelajaran Sains Anak Taman Kanak-Kanak Aisyiyah Bustanul Athfal 29 Padang (Implementation of chlid sicence learning in Kindergarten Aisyiyah Bustanul Athfal 29 Padang). Pesona PAUD- Jurnal Ilmiah PG-PAUD, 2012; 1(17): 1-11.
In article      View Article
 
[11]  Haury D.L & Rillero P. (1994). Perspectives of Hands-On Science Teaching. Columbus, OH: ERIC Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education. 151 pages.
In article      View Article
 
[12]  Charlesworth R. and Lind K. 1995. Math and science for young children. Second edition. Albany, NY: Delmar Publications.
In article      View Article
 
[13]  Michaels, S., Shouse, A.W., and Schweingruber, H.A. (2008). Ready, Set, Science! Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms. Board on Science Education, Center for Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 197 pages.
In article      View Article
 
[14]  Howes, E. V. (2008). Educative experiences and early childhood science education: A Deweyan perspective on learning to observe. Teaching and teacher education, 24(3), 536-549.
In article      View Article
 
[15]  Kavalari P., Kakana D.M., Christidou V. 2012. Contemporary teaching methods and science content knowledge in preschool education: searching for connections. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 46 ( 2012 ) 3649-3654.
In article      View Article
 
[16]  Colgrove A.N. "Approaches to Teaching Young Children Science Concepts and Vocabulary and Scientific Problem-solving Skills and Role of Classroom Environment" (2012). Public Access Theses and Dissertations from the College of Education and Human Sciences. Paper 155.
In article      View Article
 
[17]  Gross C.M.. Science Concepts Young Children Learn Through Water Play. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 2012; 40(2): 3-11.
In article      View Article
 
[18]  Morrison K. Integrate Science and Arts Process Skills in the Early Childhood Curriculum. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 2012; 40 (1): 31-38.
In article      View Article
 
[19]  Bulunuz, M. (2013). Teaching science through play in kindergarten: Does integrated play and science instruction build understanding? European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 21(2), 226-249.
In article      View Article
 
[20]  Hadzigeorgiou Y. 2015.Young Children’s Ideas About Physical Science Concepts. In Trundle K.C. and Saçkes M. (eds.) Research in Early Childhood Science Education. Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015.: 67-98.
In article      View Article
 

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Normal Style
Rukiyah, Marlina, Mohammad Kanedi. Child Science Skill Improvement through Hands-On Learning Activities in Kindergarten with Limited Human Resources and Facilities. American Journal of Educational Research. Vol. 5, No. 5, 2017, pp 540-545. http://pubs.sciepub.com/education/5/5/10
MLA Style
Rukiyah, Marlina, and Mohammad Kanedi. "Child Science Skill Improvement through Hands-On Learning Activities in Kindergarten with Limited Human Resources and Facilities." American Journal of Educational Research 5.5 (2017): 540-545.
APA Style
Rukiyah, Marlina, & Kanedi, M. (2017). Child Science Skill Improvement through Hands-On Learning Activities in Kindergarten with Limited Human Resources and Facilities. American Journal of Educational Research, 5(5), 540-545.
Chicago Style
Rukiyah, Marlina, and Mohammad Kanedi. "Child Science Skill Improvement through Hands-On Learning Activities in Kindergarten with Limited Human Resources and Facilities." American Journal of Educational Research 5, no. 5 (2017): 540-545.
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  • Figure 2. Classroom atmosphere of science learning conducted in the research. A) An engrossed little girl in the color mixing experiment. B) The children eagerly filled out the worksheets followed the teacher's instructions
  • Table 1. The themes, activities and materials used in science classroom learning conducted by the teacher
  • Table 4. Description of the children's science process, science product and science skills after attending classroom science learning by process skill approach
  • Table 7. The science skill grade achieved by children (research subjects) at the end of research treatments
[1]  UNESCO and UNICEF. 2012. Asia-Pacific End of Decade Notes on Education for All. EFA Goal 1: Early Childhood Care and Education. Published by UNESCO Bangkok, UNICEF EAPRO and UNICEF ROSA.55 pages.
In article      
 
[2]  Ngaka W., Openjuru G., Mazur R.E. Exploring Formal and Non-formal Education Practices for Integrated and Diverse Learning Environments in Uganda. The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, 2012; 11(6): 109-121.
In article      View Article
 
[3]  Undang-undang Republik Indonesia No.20 tahun 2003 tentang Sistem Pendidikan Nasional (Law 20/2003 concerning the National Education System). http://sindikker.dikti.go.id/dok/UU/UU20-2003-Sisdiknas.pdf.
In article      View Article
 
[4]  RTI International. 2009. Study of the Legal Framework for the Indonesian Basic Education Sector: Second Edition, September 2009: 128 pages. http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/Pnadt232.pdf.
In article      View Article
 
[5]  Regulation of the Minister of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia Number 146 Year 2014 on Early Childhood Education Curriculum. http://hukor.kemdikbud.go.id/diknasrokum/index.php/peraturan-perundangan.
In article      View Article
 
[6]  Eshach, H. & Fried, M.N. (2005). Should Science be Taught in Early Childhood?. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 14(3), 315-336.
In article      View Article
 
[7]  Worth K. 2010. Science in Early Childhood Classrooms: Content and Process. Collected Papers from the SEED (STEM in Early Education and Development) Conference May 2010, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA. Published Fall 2010. http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/beyond/seed/index.html.
In article      View Article
 
[8]  ACDP Indonesia. 2015. Development of Quality Assurance for Early Childhood Education. Final Report, 2015; (ACDP-022): 35 pages. http://www.acdp-indonesia.org/.
In article      View Article
 
[9]  UNICEF Indonesia. Issue Briefs: Education & Early Childhood Development (ECD), 2012: 6 pages. https://www.unicef.org/indonesia/A3-_E_Issue_Brief_Education_REV.pdf
In article      View Article
 
[10]  Roza M.M. Pelaksanaan Pembelajaran Sains Anak Taman Kanak-Kanak Aisyiyah Bustanul Athfal 29 Padang (Implementation of chlid sicence learning in Kindergarten Aisyiyah Bustanul Athfal 29 Padang). Pesona PAUD- Jurnal Ilmiah PG-PAUD, 2012; 1(17): 1-11.
In article      View Article
 
[11]  Haury D.L & Rillero P. (1994). Perspectives of Hands-On Science Teaching. Columbus, OH: ERIC Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education. 151 pages.
In article      View Article
 
[12]  Charlesworth R. and Lind K. 1995. Math and science for young children. Second edition. Albany, NY: Delmar Publications.
In article      View Article
 
[13]  Michaels, S., Shouse, A.W., and Schweingruber, H.A. (2008). Ready, Set, Science! Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms. Board on Science Education, Center for Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 197 pages.
In article      View Article
 
[14]  Howes, E. V. (2008). Educative experiences and early childhood science education: A Deweyan perspective on learning to observe. Teaching and teacher education, 24(3), 536-549.
In article      View Article
 
[15]  Kavalari P., Kakana D.M., Christidou V. 2012. Contemporary teaching methods and science content knowledge in preschool education: searching for connections. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 46 ( 2012 ) 3649-3654.
In article      View Article
 
[16]  Colgrove A.N. "Approaches to Teaching Young Children Science Concepts and Vocabulary and Scientific Problem-solving Skills and Role of Classroom Environment" (2012). Public Access Theses and Dissertations from the College of Education and Human Sciences. Paper 155.
In article      View Article
 
[17]  Gross C.M.. Science Concepts Young Children Learn Through Water Play. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 2012; 40(2): 3-11.
In article      View Article
 
[18]  Morrison K. Integrate Science and Arts Process Skills in the Early Childhood Curriculum. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 2012; 40 (1): 31-38.
In article      View Article
 
[19]  Bulunuz, M. (2013). Teaching science through play in kindergarten: Does integrated play and science instruction build understanding? European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 21(2), 226-249.
In article      View Article
 
[20]  Hadzigeorgiou Y. 2015.Young Children’s Ideas About Physical Science Concepts. In Trundle K.C. and Saçkes M. (eds.) Research in Early Childhood Science Education. Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015.: 67-98.
In article      View Article