Experience: Observation Science Classroom at Trinity College, Perth, WA

About Trinity College

Trinity College is one of Catholic school for boys in Perth, Western Australia which is founded in 1894. The school is located in the central city with beautiful view of Swan River which gives the positive learning environments for the students. Trinity College provides the strong religious education, academic excellence, quality music and art education, excellent sports coaching and achievement, and a state of the art robotic observatory with several values, which are: spirituality, inclusivity, excellence, service of others, and reflective practice (Trinity College, 2007). The secondary school in Trinity College apply the Curriculum Framework for K-12 education in Western Australia which implies “the pursuit of knowledge and commitment to achievement of potential , self acceptance and respect of self , respect and concern for others and their rights , social and civic responsibility , and environmental responsibility “ which extended to the major learning areas such as The Arts, English, Health and Physical Education, Languages Other Than English , Mathematics,    Science, Society and Environment, Technology and Enterprise (Trinity College, 2007).

The School Observation

The observation is done on Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 8.40am. Three of us arrived at 8.10am. Walking through the big yard of the school with amazing views of the beautiful park, Swan River, and Sport facilities, I am really surprised how beautiful this school is. We meet the receptionist staff to explain our meeting with the Science Teacher. After the couple minutes, the teacher come with the warm welcome and introduce himself as well as us. The teacher guides us through the door which leads to the science classroom. He wants to show us which classrooms that we will observe. Then, the teacher asks us to wait at the staff room, because the class is not started yet. The staff room is very comfortable and simple with the couple of tables and chairs, the drink, and the board. Several teachers are still there, chat with others and drink the coffee or tea. They look nice and friendly. Then, we decide to go the classroom before 8.40am. There are 4 separate buildings and we enter to the right side building to the science classroom.

The Classroom Observation

· Year 11 (Chemistry Class)

We enter the chemistry class before 8.40am, all the students look at us. I think they fell strange with our coming. Then, the teacher explains who are we, they look understand, but talk each others. The students in this class only stay for a couple minutes. They are given the several explanations of their learning, and then it changes to the other students who will be observed by us. The students from the year 11 are coming with bringing the thick folder which contains the large number of handouts. They are using the uniform, most of them come from Western country, and only five students have different appearances who come from Asian Countries. Therefore, the culture background of this classroom looks similar. They sit down and prefer to choose the back seat first. There 23 students are coming on time, and then four of the students are late in the middle of the lesson which disturb the other students’ concentration. This chemistry classroom is big with the couple windows which are opened at that time. The wind comes in to the classroom which gives the fresh air for the students. In the classroom, there are 4 long tables with couple of chairs. As a result, the students could sit close each others. At the teacher table, there is a computer as a multimedia for teaching which is equipped with several programmed, the internet connection, and head projector. At the wall, there are several charts of chemistry elements with the pictures. The selves contain the media for teaching chemistry such as “molimod” for molecules bonding, atoms, and also the students’ work.

The topic of chemistry lesson is gas pressure, volume, and reactions which are presented by the teacher using the power point. I imagine that it will be helpful for the teachers in my country if all school have the facilities like those things. The teacher told us that he already gave the handout of the material and the list of questions one week before. As a result, the students have opportunity to learn and answer the questions. The presentations are very interesting, using the colourful picture an sometimes the sound effect when the gases expose. The pictures help the students to understand the concept of characteristics gas itself and also the process. Furthermore, the students could focus on teacher’s explanation because of they already have the handout. Sometimes, when the teacher explains the topic, the students ask the questions. Even though, the teaching approach is teacher-centered, but the students are active to ask the questions and the teacher also gives opportunity for students to ask the questions. When the teacher asks the students to answer the questions in the handout, most of them look serious to work on it. After several minutes, the teacher will ask who already finished answer the questions and he will count the number of students. The teacher does it every time he gives the questions. Then, he explains the answer and asks the students who could get the right answer and count it to know how many students get the right answer. If the students could not get the right answer, he will ask them and explain the answer. In my opinion, teacher tries to find out the opportunity to interact with the students within the teacher-centered approach. Moreover, the teacher also applies the demonstration strategy to explain the exothermic and endothermic reactions which use Sodium Hydroxide and Ammonium Chloride. After he solute these two types of chemicals in water in different beaker glass, he walk around and ask students to fell the temperature at the glass wall. Most of them are surprised because of the differences of temperature. Then, the teacher explains why it happens. It is really interesting because students could observe by themselves on the energy of chemical reactions. The lesson finish when the bell is ringing at 9.40am. The students keep their work and go out from the classroom.

· Year 10 (Earth & Beyond Class)

The second class is year 10 at the Earth and Beyond Class in the Computer laboratory. The students are coming at 9.40am, five of them are late. Each student sits in front of the computer, the room is smaller than the chemistry classroom. But, it is appropriate for 31 students of year 10. In the middle of the room, there are several tables and chairs. The teacher gives the sets of task with the several topics such as water resources, atmosphere, salinity, etc., to support this e-learning classroom. The topics are the specific issues in Western Australia which give opportunity for students to be aware of their environment and society. Each task has several questions that students have to answer. The students could get the answers from the list the websites that are given by the teacher. Therefore, each student could get the next task if he already finished the previous task. Through this student-centered learning, students could manage their learning process and achievement.

The teacher starts the lesson by giving the introduction, the learning activities , and reminds the assignments and exams that they have to finish. Then, the teacher allows them to work on the work sheet to finishing the tasks. After the students finished one task, they could get the right answer from the teacher. They also could know the result from their own account. From their own account on the Trinity College Internet, they could find the resources, the assignments, and the results of their academic achievement. Most of students look serious to answer the questions. Even though, some of them looks talk each others, but they still work on their tasks. Sometimes, the teacher walks around to ask the students working progress. There are 9 tasks that they have to finish and most of them are doing the tasks 4 and 5 which are on Salinity topic. In my opinion, it will be helpful if science is integrated with the e-learning with the contemporary issues in society. It is not only interesting for the students, but also helping the teacher to observe the students’ progress on learning. After one hour, the classroom is finished.

Furthermore, throughout this observation process, I integrate my observation with the each scale of SLEI which helps me to have more conceptual understanding on SLEI instrument. There are five scales of SLEI within the observation of science classroom at Trinity College.

4.2.1. Student Cohesiveness

Student cohesiveness focuses on “extent to which students know, help, and are supportive of one another” (Fraser, Giddings, Mc. Robbie, 1992, p.3). Within the short time of observation, I found that some students works together and help each others. For example, in the year 11, one student is late, and then the teacher told him to ask the other students about the previous lesson after the class. But, the other student hands up and gives his works to be looked. Moreover, it also happens when the students work on the questions, after they try to find out the answer, they discuss the answer with their friend. The other example in the year 10, when the students work on the task 5 on Salinity topic, one student found difficulty to answer the questions, then his friend helps him to find out the answer in the article on the internet. Moreover, the teacher gives the positive learning environments for the students to work together.

4.2.2. Open-Endness

According to Fraser, Giddings, & Mc. Robbie, (1992, p.3), Open-Endness relate to “extent to which the laboratory activities emphasize an open-ended”. It is difficult to observe the open-endness based on the definition, because I didn’t observe the science laboratory. However, I could relate it with the e-learning classroom in year 10 when the students do the different tasks based on their achievement. One student could do the task on Salinity topic, but the others could do previous the task on Atmosphere topic. Even though, most of them do the same tasks, but they have opportunity to find out the way or learning strategies to answer the questions on the task.

4.2.3. Integration

The integration implies “extent to which the laboratory activities are integrated with non-laboratory and theory classes” (Fraser, Giddings, Mc. Robbie, 1992, p.3). Similar with the problem in the open-endness scale, but I try to relate integration with the handout that teacher gave to the students with the learning activities in the classroom. For example, in the chemistry class for the year 11, the students are given the handouts on The Gas topic which related to the topic that they learnt in the classroom. Integration of material and the activities in the classroom not only helps students to understand the concepts, but also the teaching process becomes more effective. On the Earth and Beyond class for year 10, it is very clear that the students work on the computer throughout the internet resources which related to the topics which are given on the tasks. They don’t find the significant difficulties to work on the browsing activities on the internet, because of the tasks guide them to find out the answers.

4.2.4. Rule Clarity

According to Fraser, Giddings, & Mc. Robbie, (1992, p.3), Rule Clarity focuses on “extent to which behaviour in is guided by formal rules”. Compared to my experiences in the boy school, it is easier to manage the behaviour of the students at Trinity College. It is not only they focus to the lesson, but also they have good behaviour. However, the teacher still gives the rule when the students are late with reminds them that they shouldn’t be late. Moreover, the teacher also explains the rule of working on assignment and the time limitation. For example, in the year 10 class, the teacher gives them the rule on working the tasks which are clear for the students. I think that the teacher already mentioned the rules since the first meeting. Therefore, the students seem understand how they should behave in the classroom.

4.2.5. Material Environment

Material Environment involves “extent to which the laboratory equipment and materials are adequate” (Fraser, Giddings, Mc. Robbie, 1992, p.3). Even though, I didn’t observe the laboratory, but I could see from my observation that they have the adequate equipment and materials. For example, when the teacher applied the demonstration strategy to explain the exothermic and endothermic reaction, he used the chemical substances with the appropriate equipment. Moreover, the facilities of material recourses are also complete. The students have their own account on internet which contains the material resources and the teachers give the access to teaching resources in the internet which help them create the materials for the students. I also observe that the e-learning facilities are also adequate to support them with the topic in the classroom. Therefore, material environment at the science classroom are adequate to support students achieve the best learning outcomes.

Finally, these two observations are very interesting experience for me. I realize that it is difficult to compare the school facilities with most of the schools in Indonesia. However, I learnt much that teacher could create the interesting learning experiences in the science classroom. Teachers plays important role to arrange all those things. Giving opportunity for students such as the exploring of the issues in the society will create the meaningful learning experiences for the students.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Helllo I’m Arianny Santylo I’m eleven years old.I love trinity colleg.I’m frequenary a trinity and I’m good.
    I have A.Excuse my because I’m italian and I’dont speek perfect english.
    Arianny Santylo


    • Posted by yulirahmawati on July 17, 2009 at 2:08 am

      Hi Arianny..I am sorry just checked my blog…Yes, Trinity is the excellent school..I enjoyed my time there…


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