How can FIER (pronounced as “fire”) be of use if the program or the course is already in existence? This article addresses this question.
As we may recall, part 1 introduced FIER to have four (4) phases namely, Formulation, Implementation, Evaluation, and Review (or Revision). The four phases in sequence are essential in order to start a new educational program or a new course offering.
In an application of FIER to an existing program or course offering, the sequence of the phases has to be adjusted. In this case, one starts with the phase on Evaluation. Hence, the title Evaluating A Chemistry Course.
Here, evaluating a chemistry course covers the course syllabus, achievements of the students in the summative examination, learning style profile of the students, and teaching styles implemented by the teachers and the learning styles catered to in the actual teaching.
In a study where evaluation of a chemistry course was done, descriptive research with qualitative and quantitative methods of gathering data was used. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods were used to describe the teaching styles implemented and the learning styles catered in the actual teaching; and to describe the congruency of the chemistry course syllabus with the guidelines and specifications set by the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED). The quantitative research method was used to describe the levels of achievement of the students in the summative examination, and to profile the learning styles of the students using the Felder-Soloman's Index of Learning Style.
It should be noted that the methods used in evaluating a program or a course may vary depending on the aspect one would like to emphasize, or depending on what the researcher may deem to be more appropriate or applicable. Thus, this article serves as a guide, not to dictate the researchers on the use of FIER.
Here is how the study was made to evaluate a chemistry course.
The Chemistry Course Syllabus
In the study, congruency of the chemistry course syllabus with the CHED guidelines was described by matching the coverage and objectives in the syllabus with the (1) aims of CHED for natural sciences in terms of scientific literacy and teachers’ perceptions, and (2) course specifications for engineering programs set by CHED.All the objectives in the syllabus were perceived by the teachers to be congruent with the aims of CHED for natural sciences. Most of the objectives in the syllabus matched with the CHED chemistry course specifications. However, there were some objectives that did not match: Those that were found in the syllabus, but not explicitly found in the chemistry course specifications set by CHED; and those that were explicitly mentioned in the CHED chemistry course specification, but not found in the syllabus.
A reecommendation was made to align some of the topics and objectives in the syllabus with the CHED chemistry course guidelines and specifications.
Learning Style Profile
The Index of Learning Style (ILS) by Felder&Soloman was used to profile the learning styles of the students. One hundred sixty-seven (167) students out of 450 answered the ILS questionnaire. The results of the ILS were examined based on the scoring method provided with the ILS questionnaire. Frequencies were tallied and grouped as to “fairly well balanced (fwb), moderate preference (mf), and very strong preference (vsp).
Majority(51-70%) of the students were found to be fairly well balance on input dimension (visual/verbal), perception dimension (sensing/intuitive), processing dimension (active/reflective), and understanding dimension (sequential/global). However, a considerable number of students (30-49%) have preferred learning style over the other in the dimension. They preferred the visual LS over verbal, sensing LS over intuitive, reflective LS over active, and sequential LS over global.
Teaching Styles and Learning Styles Catered
Classroom observations were made to profile the teaching style of the chemistry teachers. This was done by determining the learning style being catered in their actual teaching. Checklist was used to note the strategies that cater a particular learning style. The checklist was an extract from Felder and Soloman’s “Learning Styles and Strategies” (1991). To double check, observation sheet and tape recorder were used. Video camera could be better in recording the observation. However, in this case, the checklist, observation sheet, and audio recorder were enough to check and double check the strategies that cater to a particular learning style.
Four (4) out of 9 teachers teaching the same chemistry course were observed. The topics that were found to be difficult by item analysis were chosen for observations. These topics were atomic structure and periodic table, gas laws, chemical reactions and equations, stoichiometry, thermochemistry, rates of reactions, and formula writing and nomenclature. A total of 36 class meetings were observed.
The teachers employed the content-sensing TS, presentation-visual TS, and perception-sequential TS in all the meetings observed. In the majority of the meetings, the teachers employed the participation-active teaching style. Participation-active TS was employed by the teachers in most of the meetings observed. The presentation-visual TS was employed the least. Thus, in the actual teaching, the teachers catered to sensing, verbal, sequential learning styles in all the meetings observed. In most of the meetings, the teachers catered to the active LS and least to visual LS.
Teaching Styles implemented VS the Learning Style Profile
The teaching styles did not match with the learning styles of the students. The teaching styles catered most to sensing, verbal, sequential and active learning styles when majority of the students are fairly well-balanced on sensing–intuitive, visual-verbal, active-reflective, and sequential-global learning styles. The teachers catered most to active LS and least on the visual LS when a considerable number of student with preferred LS, preferred the visual LS over verbal LS, and the reflective LS rather than active LS.
Recommendations were made that (1) teachers and students be made aware with the students’ learning style profile; (2) provisions be made for learning styles to be formally included in designing instruction for chemistry course, where the teachers have the chance to adjust their teaching styles with the learning styles of the students; and (3) the students be made to try to modify their study materials to suit their learning styles following the guidelines of Felder and Soloman in the article "Learning Styles and Strategies" (1991). This article provides suggestions on “how the students with particular learning style help themselves.”
Level of Achievement of the students
The results of the summative examination for the chemistry course were examined to determine the level of achievements of the engineering students. Item analysis was made to examine each item in the test.
Item analysis showed that items on the topics on atomic structure and periodic table, gas laws, chemical reactions and equations, stoichiometry, thermochemistry, rates of reactions, and formula writing and nomenclature need to be reviewed for possible improvement of the items. After examining the items, it was concluded that these topics were the topics the student found to be difficult.
Four hundred twenty one (421) summative examination test papers were submitted for analysis. Only 421 out of 450 students enrolled took the examination. The levels of achievement of the students in the examination were classified as follows: “excellent” for score rating of 98-100%; “very good” for score rating of 83-97%; “good” for score rating of 70-82%; “fair” for score rating of 50-69%; and “poor” for score rating of 49% and below.
It was found that majority (58.36%) of the students had "poor" level of achievement. None got "very good" or "excellent" level of achievement. Generally, the students had "poor" level of achievement with a weighted mean score rating of 47.36%. This is below the minimum passing percentage (50%) set by the Department of Chemistry.
Key Terms and Definitions
The following are the key terms used in this study: engineering chemistry, departmental examination, learning styles, teaching styles, classroom observations, item analysis, index of learning styles, Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and CHED memorandum order.
Chemistry course refers to the general chemistry lecture course offered for engineering programs, that is, Bachelor’s degree programs on civil engineering (CE), electronic communication Engineering (ECE), Industrial Engineering (I.E), Electrical Engineering (EE) and Mechanical Engineering (ME).
Summative examination refers to the departmental examnation (DE) used as final examination for the engineering chemistry course. Here, the items for the examination are prepared by the department offering the course (in this case, the Department of Chemistry). Items are contributed by the teachers (instructors or professors) handling the course and prescreened by the Department before use. All engineering students take the DE at the same schedule.
Learning styles (LS’s) according to the Felder-Silvermn’s LS model refers to the ways the students received and process information (Felder&Silverman, 1988).Similarly, according to Pritchard (2005) learning styles are the individual’s preferred or best manners in which to think, process information, and demonstrate learning. Felder&Siverman (1988) classified 8 learning styles into four dimension scales, namely, input dimension scale ( visual LS and verbal LS), perception dimension scale( sensing LS and intuitive LS), processing dimension scale ( active LS and reflective LS) and understanding dimension scale ( sequential LS and global LS).Teaching styles (TS’s) according to Felder-Silverman TS model refers to the instructional methods that address the learning style components (Felder&Silverman, 1988). These TS are content TS (parallel to the perception LS), presentation TS (parallel to input dimension LS), student participation TS (parallel to processing dimension LS), and perspective TS (parallel to understanding dimension LS).
Classroom observation refers to the method used to come up with a description of the teaching styles of the teachers and the learning styles being catered to in the actual teaching.
Item analysis refers to the analysis of test items in the summative examination for chemistry course in order to identify topics that the students found to be difficult, and to identify items that need to be improved.
Index of Learning Style refers to the questionnaire designed by Felder and Soloma’s used here to profile the learning styles of the students.
Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is a government agency in charge in the regulation of private and state colleges and universities in the Philippines.
CHED Memorandum Order is the policy and regulations mandated to be observed or followed by private and state colleges and universities in the Philippines.
YOU can do more- FIER your school.
Students: The students in the study are those engineering freshmen college enrolled in the general chemistry course.
Teachers: One of the teachers has a master's degree with 26 years experience in teaching while the other teachers, who were pursuing their master's degree, have 5 to 11 years teaching experience.
Limitations and Further Recommendations
Further studies are recommended on other factors that may affect the achievements of the students such as the students' IQ, EQ, and socio-economic status; and the school policies and environment.
This article is an extract from my doctoral dissertation (supported by Fund for Assistance to Private Education (FAPE) under its Thesis/Dissertation Assistance Program (TDAP).) With this, the author would like to acknowledge the valuable recommendations of his adviser, Dr. Marie Ernestine Fajatin; his panel members: Dr. Jocelyn Locaylocay, Dr. Milagros Tabasa, Dr. Antonio Batomalaque, Dr.Enriqueta Reston; and Dr. Edwin Pilapil.
Felder, R.M. * Silverman, L.K. (1988). Learning and teaching styles in engineering education.Engr. Education Journal 78(7), 674-681(1988) Retrieved May 26,2012 from http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Papers/LS-1988.pdf
Felder, R.M.&Soloman, B.A (1994). Index of learning style. Retrieved on Jan 23,2009 fromhttp:/www.ncsu.edu/felder-pulic/ILSpage.html.
Felder, R. M.&Soloman, B.A. (1991) Learning styles and strategies. North Carolina Univerity. Retrieved on May 01, 2014 fromTabinas, Camilo A. (2012). Students’ learning styles and achievement in chem 4 departmental examination for enhanced instructional design. Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy in Education Dissertation, University of San Carlos, Cebu City, Philippines.