Interest may be seen as the medium and the goal of educational processes. Students will learn physics better, and moreover, choose physics courses intentionally if they are interested in it. Unfortunately, over the last two decades, a persistent decline in students’ interest in physics has been found in many countries.
1. See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330849733 How to Cultivate Students' Interests in Physics: A Challenge for Senior High School Teachers Article · March 2018 DOI: 10.17977/jps.v6i1.10543 CITATIONS READS 4 2,397 1 author: Tomo Djudin Tanjungpura University 22 PUBLICATIONS 53 CITATIONS SEE PROFILE Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: Research View project All content following this page was uploaded by Tomo Djudin on 04 February 2019. The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file.
2. 16 Jurnal Pendidikan Sains, Volume 6, Number 1, March 2018, Page 16 –22 Available online at http://journal.um.ac.id/index.php/jps/ Jurnal Pendidikan Sains ISSN: 2338-9117/EISSN: 2442-3904 Volume 6, Number 1, March 2018, pp. 16–22 How to Cultivate Students’ Interests in Physics: A Challenge for Senior High School Teachers Tomo Djudin Physics Education Department, Education and Teacher Training Faculty–Universitas Tanjungpura Jl. Prof. Dr. H. Hadari Nawawi, Pontianak 78124, Indonesia. E-mail: [email protected] Abstract: Interest may be seen as the medium and the goal of educational processes. Students will learn physics better, and moreover, choose physics course intentionally if they are interested in it. Un- fortunately, over the last two decades a persistent decline of students’ interest in physics has found in many countries. This literature review mainly focused on student’s interest in physics. It is concluded that the influential factors which cause students to disinterested in physics are: (1) they were lack of fa- miliarity with physics; (2) they regarded physics as the most difficult science; (3) most school science courses rely on a large amount of memorization or rote learning; and (4) they are admittedly worried a- bout failing the class. In addition, lack of student interest can be quite a challenge for teachers to com- bat such as by applying teaching-based technology, using project-based learning, increasing human being context or making cross-curricular connections, and showing the use of physics concept in the future. Teachers can cultivate students’ situational interest to personal interest by revitalizing contents (topics), context, and learning activity in conjunction with the content and context. Key Words: students’ interests, factors affecting interest, challenges for physics teachers Abstrak: Minat dapat dilihat sebagai media dan tujuan dari proses pendidikan. Siswa akan belajar fisi- ka lebih baik, dan terlebih lagi, memilih mata pelajaran fisika dengan sengaja jika mereka tertarik. Sayang- nya, selama dua dekade terakhir, penurunan minat siswa yang terus-menerus terhadap fisika telah dite- mukan di banyak negara. Kajian literatur terutamanya berfokus pada minat siswa dalam fisika. Dapat di- simpulkan bahwa faktor-faktor berpengaruh yang menyebabkan siswa tidak tertarik pada fisika adalah: (1) mereka kurang mengenal fisika; (2) mereka menganggap fisika sebagai ilmu yang paling sulit; (3) se- bagian besar program sekolah bergantung pada sejumlah besar penghafalan atau pembelajaran hafalan; dan (4) mereka khawatir akan kegagalan dalam kelas. Selain itu, kurangnya minat siswa dapat menjadi tantangan bagi guru untuk mengatasi permasalahan tersebut dengan menerapkan teknologi berbasis pengajaran, menggunakan pembelajaran berbasis proyek, meningkatkan konteks manusia atau membuat koneksi lintas-kurikuler, dan menunjukkan penggunaan konsep fisika di masa depan. Guru dapat menum- buhkan minat situasional siswa untuk minat pribadi dengan menghidupkan konten (topik), konteks, dan aktivitas pembelajaran bersama dengan konten dan konteksnya. Kata kunci: minat siswa, faktor-faktor yang mempengaruhi minat, tantangan guru fisika INTRODUCTION two decades has generated concern in many countries, including the UK, Australia, Canada, India, Japan, wo of major problems faced by science USA, and every country in the European Union. Haus- educators worldwide is the decline of sler & Hoffmann (2002) reported that, for instance, students’ interest in science and the corre- among total number of German students at upper sec- sponding swing away from science as soon as students ondary school (high school) of Gymnasium, the number have a choice, and the disappointing low scores stu- of (girls) students who opt for physics is about 10 %. dents of some countries (Gardner, 1998; Haussler & The Study conducted by SISS in Israel, as reported Hoffmann, 2000; Hoffmann, 2002; Williams, et.al., by Trumper, found that among the 17-year-old stu- 2003). Trumper (2006) reported that a persistent de- dents who elected to study science only 48 % found cline in high school science enrollment over the last 16 Article received 13/2/2018; Approved 27/3/2018
3. Djudin–How to Cultivate Student’s Interests in Physics..... 17 the study of physics interesting. Many senior high cles that concentrated in emotional dimension or affec- school students in Israel shown a negative attitude to- tive domains particularly students’ interest. Fortus ward physics which leads to lack of interest. When (2014) argued that educational researchers focusing subjects can be selected, as in senior high school, they on students’ interest in the field of physics, yet some avoid the subject or course. According to a 1984 study researchers state that affective motivational variables by National Center for Education Statistics, only 3.9% of students are still under attended in science educa- of American ninth grade students will continue their tion.In addition, in published Educational Psychology education to obtain degree in science, only 0.5% will literatures, the learning interest-point of views are gen- go on to obtain a master degree, and only 0.2% will erally described in terms of extrinsic (external) and receive a Doctorate in a science-related discipline intrinsic (internal) factors of individual (Woolfolk, 1995; (Mallory, 2004). Slameto, 2010), while very few literatures which con- National Education Ministry of Indonesia reported cerned with students’ interest physics in connection that from 1.812.035 students of Senior High School with topics (contents), context, and activity. Theoreti- Students who have followed the National Final Exami- cally, these are a three-dimensional construct of inter- nation (UAN) in 2017, only 758.067 (41,8%) students est in physics (Haussler, 1987; Hoffman, 2002; Lavo- who choose science major e.g physics, chemistry, and nen, et.al., 2005). This article describes briefly the biology (National Education Ministry of Indonesia, theoretical viewpoints and empirical background of 2017). It means that only about 14% students who interest, factors affecting students’ interest in physics, choose physics as the examination subject. Moreover, and challenges for teacher regarding for curriculum Indonesia’s average-score of 15-year-olds students and textbook development. in science is 403 which stand for in basic or low profi- ciency category and its ranking is 62 of the 72 partici- pating countries (PISA, 2015). The lack of students’ THEORETICALVIEWPOINTSAND EMPIRICAL BACKGROUND OF INTEREST achievements indicates the lack of students interest in science and is more likely to acute for physics edu- As far as the conceptualization of the psychologi- cation. cal construct ‘interest’is differentiated into two main Research has shown that pupils will study and directions of research. First, interest is understood as learn physics better, and moreover, choose physics a trait of the individual, i.e. as enduring preference course in upper secondary school if they are interested for a particular field of knowledge or action (known in it (Lavonen, et.al,2005). Interest-based motivation as invidual or personal interest). Second, interest is to learn has positive effect both in studying process interpreted as a state that is related to the specific ap- and the quantity and the quality of learning outcomes peal of a given situation (known as situational interest (Hidi, Renninger, & Krapp, 2004). However, there is or interestingness) (Haussler, et.al., 1998). Personal a considerable discrepancy between students’ interest interest, which is always specific to individual, persist in physics and the kind of physics instruction practiced over time, and can be subdivided into latent and actual- in the classroom (Haussler & Hoffmann, 2000). Thus, ized interest (Schiefele, 1999), develops slowly and students’ interest in physics learning is notably impor- tends to have long-lasting effects on person’s knowl- tant to future involvement in the subject, then it is useful edge and values (Schraw, Flowerday, & Lehman, to the teachers to cultivate students’ interest or to make 2001). Situational interest is assumed to be spontane- physics is more favourable in the classroom. Howes ous, fleeting, and shared among individuals (Schiefele, (2002) argued that physics as it is taught in the majority 1999), is an emotional state that is evoked suddenly of physics courses does not seriously take into account by something in the immediate environment and that students’ interests. may have only a short term effect on individual’s knowl- As noted by several researchers, the investigation edge and values, and is aroused as a function of the of students’ attitude and interest toward studying sci- interestingness of the content and context and partially ence has been a substantive feature of the work of under the regulation of teacher (Schraw, Flowerday, science education (Osborne, et.al., 2003; Trumper, & Lehman, 2001). 2006). Unfortunately, from the distribution of physics Following the suggestion of Gardner (1985), education articles according to their research titles Haussler, et.al (1998) differentiate the situational as- between the years of 2008 and 2013, Uzunboylu and pect of interest construct in the following way: (1) in- Asiksoy (2014) confirmed that only 13 (12.38%) arti- terest in a particular subject matter or topic in physic
4. 18 Jurnal Pendidikan Sains, Volume 6, Number 1, March 2018, Page 16 –22 (e.g.in optics); (2) interest in a particular context in gued that teachers can promote the change of situa- which that topic is presented (e.g.optical device that tional interest to personal interest by choosing of the are in every day use); and (3) interest in a particular content, context, and teaching methods. Therefore, it activity one allowed to engage in in conjunction with is important for a teacher to know what content and that topic and context (e.g.building a simple but func- context interest pupils. As a summary, interest can be tioning telescope). Consistent to the three situational seen as an integrated component of an interrelated aspects of interest—topics/areas, context, and activity network psychical, social, and physical factors in a in conjunction with topic and context—Hoffmann certain learning situation. (1989) compiled the ideas of a group of experts refer- It seems logical that learning experiences should ring to desirable physics education which contain 3 be related to the interest of the students. However, formal elements: (1) situations, contexts, motives, etc., this is not always an easy or even a desirable strategy; in or for which education in physics is meaningful today there are times when students must master basic skills and will be so in the immediate future (Element I); (2) that hold no intrinsic interest for them (Woolfolk, 1995). areas of physics, familiarity with which is required for Based on their study, Haussler & Hoffmann (2000) an understanding of physics, or which are considered concluded, the specific context that are effective in to have significance for physics in connection which stimulating interest: (1) physics as vehicle to promote the situations, contexts, and motives named in fulfill- practical competence; (2) phyisics as a socio-econom- ment of preceding condition (Element II); (3) the ap- ic enterprise; (3) physics as vehicle to enhance emo- propriate or desirable modality of an individual’s dispo- tional experience; (4) physics as an intellectually chal- sition over, or of his dealing with an education in physics lenging scientific enterprise; and (5) physics as vehicle (Element III). to quality for the work-world. Haussler, et.al (1998) gave an illustration of how topic, context, an activity aspect of situational interest in the 11 different configurations applied to the topic FACTORS AFFECTING STUDENTS’INTEREST IN PHYSICS of ‘heat’ as shown in Table 1. Based on the previous studies, Schraw, Flower- The lack of students’ achievement in physics can day, and Lehman (2001) confirmed that it is essential be caused by many factors such as internal and exter- to make the content of learning meaningful and per- nal factors of the students (Carbone, et.al., 2009; Sla- sonally relevant to pupils. Through this phase pupils meto, 2010). The internal factors e.g. student’s attitude, affective responses to teaching and learning material motivation, interest, knowledge, skills, hope, assump- is also relevant that enable to cultivate the students’ tion, and goals. The external factor is the student study situational interest as well. Lavonen, et.al.(2005) ar- environment condition, e.g. the utilization of teaching Table 1. The 11 Context/activity Configurations that Represent Different Facets of Interest in Physics Applied to The Topic of ‘Heat’ Context/activity configuration Application to the topic of ‘ heat’ 1 Calculating physical quantities Calculating how much a certain amount of heat energy may be transformed into kinetic energy 2 Learning more about the quantitative of Learning more about why heat may not completely transformed physics into movement 3 Planning experiments Planning experiments to find out what influences the speed at which an object cools down 4 Learning more about the qualititative of Learning more about why heat essential is physics 5 Gaining an insight into technical vocations Gaining an insight into how people work in a thermal power station 6 Learning about how technical objects function Learning more about how thermos jugs function 7 Building of devices Building and testing a device from simple materials (e.g.chips of wood or straw) that keeps things warm 8 Gaining an insight into vocations that serve Gaining an insight into how people work in a weather station humankind 9 Learning more about natural phenomena Learning more about what causes the weather 10 Learning more about the social impact of Learning more about how improved insulation of houses may save technologies a lot of energy 11 Discussing controversial technologies Learning about the disadvantages of thermal power stations and discussing alternatives
5. Djudin–How to Cultivate Student’s Interests in Physics..... 19 method by the teachers, family environment, and the are met, interest and enjoyment in activity type or the availability of learning facility and infrastructure. teaching methods used, perceived achievement, level Through the use of survey of 191 students of the of difficulty, and appreciation of the topic. Based on early years of secondary school, Mallory (2004) identi- his study, Weno (2014) concluded: (1) there is a positive fied the influential factors which cause students to be and significant relation between interest in physics and interested or disinterested in physics, they are: (1) one student’s ability to solve physics problems; (2) there reason that so many people have such a lack of famili- is a positive and significant relation between interest arity with physics is the fact that very few people ev- and knowledge of mathematics basic concept with er actually take a physics course; (2) another possibility student’s ability to solve physics problems. for the small number students enrolling in physics clas- Hong and Lin-Siegler (2012) found that the a- ses is the means by which most high schools arrange chievement-oriented background information had neg- their science program. Many high school students re- ative effects on students’ perceptions of scientists, garded physics as ‘the most difficult science’. There- producing no effects on students’ interest in physics fore, they would decide not to take physics in place of lessons. In contrast, the struggle-oriented background a less difficult elective and would simply not be in sci- information helped students create perceptions of sci- ence long enough to take a physics course; (3) Most entists as hardworking individuals who struggled to other high school science courses rely on a large a- make scientific progress. In addition, it also increased mount of memorization. Physics, on the other hand, students’ interest in science, increased their delayed deals more with quantitative skills and connections or recall of the key science concepts, and improved their relationships between concepts. The students who abilities to solve complex problems. Keller, Neumann, have done well in other science courses could possibly and Fischer (2017) concluded that teachers’ motivation go into a physics course with the same mentality that in the form of interest for teaching physics had a posi- was previously successful. Those students could then tive effect on students’ interest. Neither did teacher become frustrated the “methods” that work for biology pedagogical content knowledge predict students’ inter- or chemistry do not work for physics; (4) Finally, many est, nor teacher motivation students’ achievement. students do no take a physics course because they Hadzigeorgiou, et.al.(2017) concluded that there were are admittedly worried about struggling with the class significant correlations between students’ overall be- or even failing the class because of the extreme level liefs about physics and learning physics with their self- of difficulty that they associate with physics. rated level of interest in physics. Several studies have identified a number of fac- tors affecting students’ attitudes towards science in science. These can be largely categorized as gender, THE CHALLENGES FORATEACHER TO CULTIVATE STUDENTS’INTEREST IN PHYSICS personality traits, structural variables, and the curricu- lum variables. Of these, the most significance is gender In order to increase students’ interest in physics, (Haussler, 1987; Trumper, 2006). Many studies re- Lavonen, et.al.(2005) indicated at least four challenges ported that males have more positive attitudes toward for physics teacher regarding the curriculum and text- science than females (Sjoberg, 2000; Osborne,et.al., book development. The first challenge is to assume 2003), while others found no statistically significant that the context where science in discussed in situations gender differences (Selim & Shrigley, 1983). Unfortu- of everyday life is interesting for pupils. The content nately, these less favourable attitudes of females often to be learned is embeded in the fantasy context, e.g., translate into less interest in science. the skill to be learned and the fantasy are related to The study of Awodun, et.al.(2014) revealed that each other (endogenous fantasy). In exogenous fanta- students‘ variables (study habit, attitude to and interest sy, the relationship between the content of the study of students in Physics) are better predictors of stu- and the fantasy is purely arbitrary. For example, it dents’ performance in Physics, while student gender might be possible that a physics teacher can explain has no influence on students academic performance how phenomena that are paranormal have been re- (is a poor predictor). Lavonen, et.al.(2005) identified searched or what the origins of the electromagnetic factors that interrelate with interest in physics learning: waves are. nationality, gender, relevance for further studies or oc- The second challenge is to clarify how content cupation, interest in the contents of physics, interest and its context can be increased in the school physics. in a context where certain physics content or topics Pupils would like to learn more about physics contents
6. 20 Jurnal Pendidikan Sains, Volume 6, Number 1, March 2018, Page 16 –22 if they are taught in the others context. There is a situational interest are learning conditions that make wide spectrum of topics that can be approached in the content of learning meaningful and personally different context of another topic. For example, discus- relevant to pu-pils. The second step is through an sion on satellites and space research/exploration seems internalization proc-ess this situational interest can to be exciting topic for pupils if it is taught from me- develop into personal or individual interest. Therefore, chanics, electromagnetic radiation, and nuclear fusion. motivation and interest is no longer seen as simply an The third challenge is to increase human being con- individual variable. text, health education, and examples of life sciences To make the science teaching and learning mate- to physics teaching. It is valuable phenomena can be rials could be interesting, Schraw, Flowerdwy, and Leh- connected to real contexts pupils are interested about man (2001) suggested that teachers should 1) offer or what concerns directly themselves, e.g., human meaningful choices to pupils, 2) use well-organised beings and especially pupils themselves in everyday texts, 3) select texts that are vivid, 4) use texts that life, sports or hobbies, animals or plants they see in pupils know about, 5) encourage pupils to be active their surroundings. Some physical conceptions can be learners, and 6) provide relevance cues for pupils. In used in the context of various records of animals and relation to learning activity, Haussler, et.al (1998) con- plants (mass, weight, volume, acceleration, velocity, firmed that the teaching of physics should take the kinetics energy, etc.) instead of various physical instru- following guidelines into consideration: (1) providing ments. opportunities to be amazed; (2) linking content to prior The fourth challenge is teaching-based technol- experiences for the students; (3) providing first-hand ogy. It is important to find more versatile approachs experiences; (4) encouraging discussions and reflec- to show technical application’s interestingness and im- tions on the social importance of science; (5) letting portance for all pupils. Everyone uses technical appli- physics appear in application-oriented contexts; (6) cations; therefore, usability testing and user-centered showing physics in relation to the human body; and design could be interesting study contexts. Futhermore, (7) letting students experience the benefit and use of it would be useful to make an intervention study on treating physics quantitatively. pupils’ motivation and learning physics in the context Kelly (2018) argued that lack of student interest where technological context is combined with human and motivation can be quite a challenge for teachers being context or astonomical context. A good example to combat. She noted the following methods shown to of integration of human context with technological con- be effective in getting the students motivated and eager text can be seen in numerous college level physics to learn are as follows. textbook. These theme help student both to understand First, Be Warm and Inviting in Your Classroom. the individual’s relationship to technology and to see The classes have a distinctive personality or “climate” the importance of technology in our daily lives. There- which influences the learning efficiency of their mem- fore, there is a great potential to change the shape of bers. No one wants to enter your class where they do technology teaching in schools. Hazari,et.al.(2017) not feel welcome. Your classroom should be an inviting concluded that creating classroom environment that place where students feel safe and accepted. increase students’ intentions toward STEM (science, Second, Give Choice. Once students have learned technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers can a skill or have become familiar with some content, promote students interest and enhance or maintain there is always an opportunity to offer a student a course performance as well. choice. Giving students choice is critical to increasing Krapp (2002) has suggested that in certain condi- student engagement. In all disciplines, students can be tions situational interest (interestingness) can transform given a choice of questions to answer or a choice be- into personal interest. According to him, this ontogenic tween writing prompts and for doing a research and transformation is a two-step mental process where problem-solving activities that allow students to have internalization and identification have a central role. more control over learning to a greater sense of owner- The first step is catching or triggering situational inter- ship and interest. est. Catching or triggering refers to variables that ini- Third, Authentic Learning. The students are more tially stimulated pupils to become interested in a specif- engaged when they feel that what they are learning is ic topic.While holding refers to variables that connected to life outside the classroom. The basic idea empower pupils with a clear goal or purpose. It is is that students are more likely to be interested in what essential to the shift from catching to holding a pupils’s they are learning mirrors real-life contexts, equips them
7. Djudin–How to Cultivate Student’s Interests in Physics..... 21 with practical and useful skills, and addresses topics CONCLUSION that are relevant and applicable to their lives outside It is concluded that teachers can cultivate stu- of school. dents’ situational interest to personal interest by revital- Fourth, Use Project-Based Learning. The proc- izing a three-dimensional aspects of interest e.g. con- ess of project-based learning takes place when stu- tents (topics), context, and learning activity in conjunc- dents start with a problem to solve, complete research, tion with the content and context. The influential factors and then finally solve the problem using tools and infor- which cause students to disinterested in physics are: mation that you would typically teach in a number of (1) they are lack of familiarity with physics; (2) they regarded physics as the most difficult science; (3) most Fifth, Make Learning Objectives Obvious. Certain school science courses rely on a large amount of mem- topics can be overwhelming because of the amount orization or rote learning; and (4) they are admittedly of information and details involved. Providing students worried about failing the class. The lack of student in- with a roadmap through accurate learning objec- terest can be quite a challenge for teachers to combat tives that shows them exactly what it is you want them by employing the strategies such as to show physics to learn can help allay some of these concerns. as a human enterprise, apply teaching-based technolo- Sixth, Make Cross-Curricular Connections. gy, use project-based learning, make cross-curricular Sometimes students do not see how what they learn connections, and show the use of physics concept in in one class intersects with what they are learning in the future. Adaptation of the curriculum by adding other classes. Cross-curricular connections can pro- topics students are interested in could be a very effec- vide students with a sense of context while increasing tive means to solve some of the current problems of interest in all classes involved. Magnet schools that physics education especially regarding the decline of are based around specific themes like health, engineer- students’ interested in physics. If the new science and ing, or the arts take advantage of this by having all technology curriculum is to succeed so that students classes in the curriculum find ways to integrate the become more science-literate and increase their inter- students’ career interests into their classroom lessons. est in physics, then this shortcoming must be taken in- Seventh, Show How Students Can Use This In- to account and overcome. formation in the Future. Some students are not interest- ed because they see no point in what they are learning. A common theme among students is, “Why do I need ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS to know this?” Instead of waiting for them to ask this question, why not make it part of the lesson plans that I would like to thank Drs. Luwandi, M.Pd for you create. Add a line in your lesson plan template proofreading this paper. that specifically relates to how students might apply this information in the future. Then make this clear to REFERENCES students as you teach the lesson. Eighth, Provide Incentives for Learning. Incen- Awodun, et.al. (2014). Students’ variables as predictors of tives and rewards can be everything from free time secondary school students’performance in physics. at the end of a class. Make it clear to students exactly International Journal of Scientific and Research what they need to do to earn their reward while some Publications, 4(8),1–6. people do not like the idea of giving students incentives Carbone, et.al. (2009). An exploration of internal factors in- to learn. fluencing student learning of programming. Pro- Ninth, Use Hands-On Learning and Include Sup- ceedings of the 11th Australasian Computing Edu- porting Materials. Well-designed hands-on activities cation Conference (ACE ’09), vol. 95 of Confer- focus learners on the world around them, spark their ences in Research and Practice in Information Tech- curiosity, and guide them through engaging experi- nology, pp. 25–34, Australian Computer Society, ences–all while achieving the expected learning out- Wellington, New Zealand. comes. When students are able to feel artifacts or be Fortus, D. (2014). Attending to affect. Journal of Research involved in experiments, the information being taught in Science Teaching, 51(7), 821–835. can acquire more meaning and spark more interest. Gardner, P.L. (1998). The development of males’ and females’ interests in science and technology. In L. Hoffmann
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