HomeSoutheastern Philippines Journal of Research and Developmentvol. 18 no. 2 (2009)

The Teaching of Earth Science: A Shift Towards Constructivism

Helen B. Pondevida | Christopher C. Gonzales | Marnie Grace I. Sonico



This research was conducted to determine the level of accomplishment of faculty in teaching earth science through constructivists’ approach. The aim of this study is to show to pre-service teachers how to process the learning of concepts in earth science through facilitating hands-on experiences. Assessment of the teaching approach was adopted from the external evaluation questionnaires of the Australian Aid project in Mindanao Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM).

The teaching of earth science through constructivism is guided by the so-called BEAM Pre-Service RIBBONS. RIBBONS stand for: R - Student CenteRed learning; I - DIversity; B – ProBlem Solving; B – Basic Education Curriculum, O – Higher Order Thinking Skills, N – Active LearNing and S – Authentic ASsessment. These are the basic themes to look for in a constructivists’ classroom. Hence, this study would like to find out whether the faculty have changed their teaching styles from the traditional lecture method to constructivists’ method of teaching. And should there be changes, what is the level or degree of that change?

The sampling units were second year college students taking Earth Science subject in summer of 2007 at the College of Education, University of Southeastern Philippines, Davao City. There were 128 students enrolled in this class. Three faculty members were teaching this course and they employed team teaching approach. Each faculty divided the topics for him/her to take up in the class.

Students assessed the teachers in earth science from satisfactory to very good in terms of employing the BEAM Pre-Service Themes of Constructivism. Generally, no single theme in constructivism dominantly stood out. Teachers were successful (85% and above) in employing the following indicators of the different themes of constructivism. These are, teachers acting as facilitators; students engaging in activities; and students being encouraged in variety of tasks that involve critiquing, synthesizing, and evaluating. However, teachers have lots of improvement to do in order for the shift towards constructivism to be doing well in the classroom since they fare 50% or below in employing some indicators of constructivism. Teachers did not fare well in establishing abilities of learners’, students making choices to suit how they learn best, manipulating information, assessment using student conferencing and student self assessment, giving examples which are culture sensitive, modeling good practices in diversity, and using strategies and content that would promote peace education. Students were almost unanimous in saying that the activities they did in class were useful for them.