Teaching Development Report

UniServe Science News Volume 10 July 1998










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The Use of Computers in Teaching the Natural Sciences in Indonesia

R. Soegeng
Department of Physics, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia

Abstract

The natural sciences are full of abstract concepts so that many of the students have difficulty in understanding some of the topics. Many of the teachers address this problem by doing demonstrations or showing films to their students. Nowadays, they also use computers for showing visualizations, where the software may be bought in the market or, for teachers who know programming, written by themselves. This paper will show the success of using computers in teaching the natural sciences in Indonesia.

Computers in secondary schools

Since 1989 the Department of Physics, Institut Teknologi Bandung, has introduced teachers of the natural sciences in secondary schools to the computer as a teaching aid in their subject area. Prior to 1989, the teachers learnt computer programming at Curtin University in Perth. Our program consists of two main activities. Firstly, 10 days training where teachers are introduced to computer programming in Turbo Pascal. Secondly, about three months later, we invite those teachers for another 10 days training to write simple visualization computer programs. There are 20 teachers involved in each activity and they come from different cities in Indonesia. Most of them come from Sumatra, Java, and Bali. The reason we focus on those three islands, is because the populations of the secondary schools are greater than on other islands.

The training itself is not carried out on the campus of Institut Teknologi Bandung, but in Pusat Pengembangan Penataran Guru Ilmu Pengetahuan Alam (Center of Development and Training for Teachers of Natural Sciences). In 1992 the training for teachers of Mathematics was delegated to the University of Gajah Mada in Yogyakarta, where the training is carried out in Pusat Pengembangan Penataran Guru Matematika (Center of Development and Training for Teachers of Mathematics).

This program is not always smooth. Especially in islands other than Java, because many schools do not have enough computers or the head of the school does not support the teachers' use of the computers for writing computer programs. The main problem is that this program is not found in the secondary school's curriculum. However, those teachers who realize the benefit of using visualization, whenever possible, will use visualization while they are teaching.

Within the first 10 days in Bandung, the teachers learn programming theory (40 hours) and laboratory activities (80 hours). Within the next 10 days they learn visualization theory (40 hours) and laboratory activities (80 hours), in which 40 hours is used for writing their own program. At the end of the program, teachers present their computer programs in front of the jury that consists of lecturers from Institut Teknologi Bandung.

Serious teachers, after they finish both programs, usually write letters or send email to us when they meet difficulties in writing computer programs. We always welcome such questions.

The following histogram shows average grades for Physics, Biology and Chemistry, from two classes, one which was taught conventionally and the other which was taught using computers. We see that grades for classes taught conventionally are lower than those for classes taught using computers.

Figure 1.

Acknowledgement

Particular thanks to Ika Ayutrisno, a teacher of Physics in Surabaya, Hidayati, a teacher of Biology, and I Gede Mendera, a teacher of Chemistry, both in Palembang, who supplied me with the data.


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UniServe Science News Volume 10 July 1998

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