Teachers say students lose interest in science and math due to poor foundation

KUALA LUMPUR: Academics believe that one of the main factors behind the decline in the number of students choosing the science stream at Sijil Pelajaran (SPM), Malaysia, is the weakness among primary school students in mastering the basic concepts of science and mathematics. .

Dr Anuar Ahmad, senior lecturer at the Center for Education and Diversity at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), said that weakness causes many students to find science and mathematics difficult, thus eroding their interest in studying these subjects in secondary school.

Anuar said that the teaching method was not interesting and focused more on the goal of getting high grades, correct and correct answers, which caused primary school students to fear making mistakes, and the main purpose of science and mathematics was to instill the spirit of experimentation. they get the answer.

“Therefore, our primary school students ages 7 to 12 experience stress in the face of demand and find learning science and math difficult and stressful.

He told Bernama, “(If you keep getting answers) This is not science. It’s a kind of rote learning. But science is a process of trial and error, observation and testing.”

Citing the example of Thomas Edison, the academic said that the American inventor failed many times, but tried many times until he finally succeeded in inventing a light bulb that is still in use today.

According to Anuar, the stigma that science and math are difficult causes students on Forms 1 to 3 to be less interested in the subjects, but they must still take them because they are required subjects.

However, he said Form 4 and 5 students choose other subjects outside of science when they have the opportunity, when the subject is no longer required in SPM.

Meanwhile, Anuar said the curriculum used by the Ministry of Education to teach science and math in schools is also too heavy, contributing to the unpopularity of the subjects in primary schools.

“The curriculum of elementary school students should not be so heavy, it should focus on students doing exploration activities, scientific research and observations outside the classroom to see how flowers grow, how photosynthesis works, and how water is formed from the combination of two gases.” .

He said that because of the volume of the curriculum, teachers who teach science and math subjects rush to complete the entire curriculum during the academic year to meet the key performance index (KPI).

“Sometimes, there are students who don’t fully understand what the teacher is teaching, but the teacher doesn’t have time to explain or make sure they really understand. Then the teacher has to move on to the next topic because he or she needs to catch up with the curriculum.

“After all, many students fall behind in understanding the meaning and purpose of the scientific phenomenon they are studying,” he said.

Aminuddin Awang, president of the National Association for the Teaching Profession (NUTP), said many students chose the arts major because of the stigma of learning science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as difficult.

Aminuddin Awang agrees with Anuar that this plays a big role in determining the direction of STEM learning, as he receives many complaints about the science and math curriculum from teachers who have to speed up the learning process due to lack of time.

“I think the ministry is following the STEM learning curriculum. I’m sure the subject will be improved,” he said.

On 4 August, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim urged the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) to find new approaches that would engage students in science and mathematics.

Research conducted by the National STEM Association (NSA) found that only 19% of students have chosen science subjects since 2020. – Bernama

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