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‘Ponpes’ strive to improve education for women

Wahyoe Boediwardhana ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Malang, E. Java   |  Sun, 05/25/2008 12:01 PM  |  Discover

The quality of education today for Muslim women is being continuously improved upon these tenets of Islamic education. The teaching of both Islam and sciences are considered very important, particularly in the face of contemporary challenges.

Despite the greater number of professional women who are advocating better education for their peers in the country, the domestic role of women in guiding their children’s learning still seems to remain the primary reason for improvement.

“Children rarely, if ever, turn to their fathers first about something. They are more likely to ask their mothers first. This is because they are closer to their mothers and see her every day,” the chairman of the Al Rifa’ie Ponpes foundation, Ahmad Muflih Azam, told The Jakarta Post.

Some educators of a particular segment have responded to the need by providing a broader educational opportunity for Muslim girls.

One such individual is K.H. Achmad Zamachsyari, who set up in 1992 a modern pondok pesantren (ponpes) for female students.

The Al Rifa’ie Islamic boarding school in Gondanglegi district, Malang regency, aims to educate its students to develop their command of technology, to be proficient in foreign languages, to become high achievers and to develop a noble character. At present, it has 734 female students who come from 18 provinces.

Muflih rejected the prevailing assumption that ponpes were “backward”; he believes that the stigma of ponpes as a marginalized educational institution is no longer relevant.

“That might have been the case during the colonial era, when santri (Islamic students) had no opportunities for formal schooling. Now we have equal opportunity, and ponpes often provide a more complete syllabus, particularly with regard to religious education,” he said.

The Al Rifa’ie ponpes achieves this balance between academics and religion by combining formal secondary school curricula with religious education provided at its Madrasah Murottilil Qur’an Al Rifa’ie (MMQA) and Madrasah Diniyah Al Rifa’ie (MDA).

The MMQA provides Koranic studies that lead towards a teaching certificate while the MDA follows the government-approved Islamic/ponpes curriculum, which has been developed further with the Lirboyo-Jombang, the Gontor-Ponorogo and other regional ponpes.

In addition, Al Rifa’ie offers its santri creative skills courses such as culinary management, fashion design and crafts during its 18-hour school day. It also has classes in modern languages, journalism, shariah banking, social sciences, computer sciences, multimedia technology and the life sciences.

“There’s no discrimination in Islam. Men and women have the same educational opportunities,” said Muflih.

Another all-girls ponpes, Al Ishlahiyah, located in the district town of Singosari, provides religious classes on campus and sends its students to attend classes in academic subjects at other Islamic schools.

“Basically, our students study more salafiyah subjects on the Koran and the Hadith than those attending formal schools, including tauhid (Allah and His attributes), tazawuf (building character towards a divine union) and fiqh (Islamic law),” said Lathifah Mahfudz, the curriculum advisor at Al Ishlahiyah.

“That’s the general advantage of ponpes over formal schooling. Instead of relying on formal subjects alone, ponpes offer more religious content, so its graduates will cultivate good character and serve as role models (in society). Most formal schools only have two hours of religious lessons a week,” she added.

With about 350 santri, Al Ishlahiyah has more limited facilities compared to Albut the heads of the two ponpes agree that the central and regional governments needed to assume a greater role in supporting the development of Islamic schools. “… Apart from their considerable contributions (to national education) since the colonial era, ponpes can also act as a screen to filter out anti-religious influences on the younger generation,” Muflih said.

A key area of support is human resources, which requires technical guidance and training as well as skills in curricular management to rais their competitiveness. Ponpes also need more quality science teachers, scholarship funds and modern facilities.

“So far, we haven’t received any special government attention. Though a ponpes department has been established under the education ministry, its direct impact on schools is yet to be seen,” Muflih said.

Lathifah is more critical in her views: “The government may have noticed that we have survived independently without aid, so perhaps it believes that ponpes will continue to exist (without support).”

Despite of the lack of government support, ponpes still try to accommodate disadvantaged students.

“At our institution, we give opportunities to those who cannot afford school expenses, as long as they are highly motivated to learn and to succeed,” Lathifah said.

Aside from academic knowledge and skills, ponpes offer santri valuable experiences in developing a sense of solidarity, discipline, respect for teachers and elders, tolerance, ethics and financial management skills.

“Such experiences will be very useful at home and in (the students’) future family life,” she stressed.


Reflections on Constructivism, Criticalism & Postmodernism (Journal 5B)

Journal 5B

Please reflect here on your learning experiences during this topic and also during the unit as a whole…take the opportunity to review your overall learning journey.

In reflecting on your learning journey (i) what has been of most interest and value to you and (ii) what issues/concepts might you be struggling with or are simply less interested in?

At the first time, I think that this unit just provides the understanding the powerful of constructivism epistemology. However, since I wrote the previous journal on using constructivism as a referent and this journal on including the moral value makes me understand the integration of conceptual understanding for applying constructivism. I am exciting that that this journal helps me to realize the other things that I used to be ignored. Since I worked on this journal, I realize and reflect on pedagogical practices which I found that I ignored my students as human being who need to handle with care. I thought that school is a “formal” place to “transfer” the knowledge which put more emphasize on cognitive aspects rather than emotionally. Even though, my lecturer taught me about the psychology development of the children, but it just became the memorizing knowledge of emotional development of students (again to pass the unit in my undergraduate degree). Moreover, I remember my parents (both of them have been teaching for more than 20 years) told me that my feelings and how I handle my students will influence my students understanding and behaviour. They points out that view based their own experiences which encourage them to be the caring teachers. A couple years ago, I just thought, because they taught elementary school, so, they need to be caring and patient with the students, but since I wrote this journal I realize the ethic of care is vital in education, in the relationship between teacher and students.

Moreover, the other rule of moral accountability in education is dealing with several education problems such as students’ misbehaviour. I remember when I thought secondary school which all the students were boys and had misbehavior and I used to see the teachers applied the physical punishments to deal with the students. The results were the students were afraid and well behaved just when the teachers were available. As a result, they became resistance with the punishment. The punishment as a solution is failed, since the problems in that school was getting worst, such as 90% were failed in national examination, students were absent for at least one month, students involved in drug, fighting, and criminal. I think that if the emancipatory ethic and ethic of care are integrated in that school, the problems of students-teacher relationship, students’ learning process, and students’ misbehaviour could be handled. Therefore, these values are important to be integrated in the learning process.

In addition, I found the readings on this last journal (for me) is really challenging, not only because of the difficulties on language, but also the philosophy both postmodernism, constructivism, and values in education it self which need depth thinking on it. Moreover, the reading by Taylor helps me to understand the importance of ethics and care. When I read this journal, I felt that I read about myself as Peter’s student. If Peter asked to judge the quality standard on pedagogical thoughtfulnessJ, I will answer, the reading is really engaging on identifying and reflecting of myself as a learner and an educator. Moreover, my appreciation for Peter, my lecturer who not only gave me the understanding of the importance of ethics and care in education, but also always interacts in that ways. As a lecturer who never judge my “narrow” understanding, my “slender” transformation process, and my “floating” thinking. I view Peter as an educator who is “emphatic, honest, interdependent and trustful relationship”, as the role model teacher who I want to be.

Moreover, I realize the powerful of constructivism approach and transformative learning to be applied in my classroom. Based on my learning experiences within the transformative learning process, I can fell how the learning process stimulates me to think critically, think and reflect of myself, and envision my future life, especially on my pedagogical practices. In addition, I also comprehend the politically-driven of education system in my country as well as my roles as a government employee who has to face the bureaucracy. I had to face the reality that it’s easy for me to trap on the myth of objectivism, rationalism, cold reason, and hard control (Taylor, 1996). However, I prefer to struggle to shift my paradigms into the transformative educator, rather than I give up staying within my comfortable zone as a controller teacher and a passive learner. The suggestions from Taylor on the communicative action on educational relationship and ethics of care will help to deal with the challenges that I will face in my classroom. I believe that the education is the long-life process which is difficult to separate it with the moral, values, emancipatory ethics, and ethic of care.

Furthermore, before I write my reflections on overall this unit, I read again my writing on my entry journal and I found that I had uncertainty on how online learning experiences can be engaging and meaningful. But, I can say now, this unit is the most challenging and engaging on my depth thinking. In addition, the learning experiences is also integrating, since every time I write my journals and reflect on my own practices, I need to back again to re-examine my understanding on previous topics.

The most interest that I learnt in this topic is radical constructivism, since I am really curious about the concept of this constructivism which used to criticize by others. Even though, I really struggle to understand the depth-philosophy on the reality and the ways of knowing the reality (I almost gave up when I wrote down journal two ;)). In my religion, we believe that the absolute truth about the reality is “the God eyes”, human are just trying to find out the truth. Therefore, human will never know the ‘absolute truth’. I reflect it into my understanding on teaching science, and then science knowledge becomes the historical process, rather than the absolute truth of knowledge. However move on social constructivist and socio-culture of science classroom, I becomes having “soft” understanding which allow me to understand that my reality is subjective and need to be negotiated with others through socially process. The “truth” which is determined by “science community” or “western science” community stimulates me to think about my own “science culture”, if I have my own science culture, where can I put in my classroom to engage my students? Since I never think about it and used to serve the privileged of western science.

The other interest issue that I concern is using constructivism as a referent which will helps me to deals with my own teaching context. The suggestions by Tobin and Tippins on the teaching, assessments, and research under constructivism view are really applicable. Now, I didn’t think constructivism in teaching as the impossible approach to be applied in the large number of students and under standardized system. Applying constructivism in the assessment remind me to think about the goal and the basic principle of doing the assessment which is not only for getting the grade as the administration requirement, but also for understanding my students ways of thinking which will allow me to apply different approaches of assessments. Moreover, I also comprehend that using the constructivism as a referent for doing my research, understanding myself and others will help me to using research as the way to empower myself and others, develop my pedagogical practices, and give contributions for my institutions, my country, and the knowledge.

The value that I learnt in this unit is becoming the communicative teacher who has emancipator ethics and the ethics of care. I realize that, it is important to understand my students as human being, rather than the “chamber” to replicate the science knowledge. These values will help me to deal with the transformation process of myself and my students, to engage my students within the communicative education relationship. Moreover, I also realize my role as teachers’ educator who has responsible to educate my students’ teacher to develop the trusting and caring relationship with their students (Lake, Jones, & Dagli, 2004). I have to be careful that I could become the role model for my students’ teacher. Therefore, I should learn to view my students not as the individuals under my control who could be forced, but as human beings who need to handle with care. I should learn how to appreciate my students’ learning process, learn not to judge their understanding as “the wrong” ways, and learn to be emancipatory, empathic and caring teacher.

Now, I think that I have more understanding (I am afraid to say “depth-understanding), J on the constructivism. Since I learnt different type of constructivism, I think that I have to struggle now to put all those puzzles into my own understanding on constructivism view, since I used to have simple understanding of the constructivism. I realize that the powerful of constructivism to be applied in the classroom. In addition, on applying the constructivism and the transformation process in my pedagogical practices, I will refer to Willison and Taylor (in Press) on integral perspectives on different views (modernism and postmodernism, objectivism and constructivism, etc.), dialectical thinking, constructivism as a referent, emancipatory ethic, and ethic of care. These all concepts will help me to deal with the problems and to think reflectively and critically within any situations.

Finally, I closed this journal by saying thanks for these inspiring, exciting, and challenging learning experiences. This journey opens the “closed window” of my thinking which putting the great emphasize of critical and reflective thinking and depth-understanding. Finishing this journal doesn’t mean the end of my journey, but it becomes my starting point to move forward to learn to be a transformative learner and educator, and a life-long learner.


Lake, V., Jones, I., & Dagli, U. (2004). Handle with care: Integrating caring content in mathematics and science methods. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 19(1), 5-17.

Taylor, P.C. (1996). Mythmaking and mythbreaking in the mathematics claasroom. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 31(1,2), 151-173.

Willison, J.W. & Taylor, P.C. (in press). Complementary epistemologies of science teaching: Towards an integral perspective. Draft chapter of Analogy and Metaphor in Science Education. The Netherland: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Constructivism, Criticalism & Postmodernism (Journal 5A)

Journal 5A

This culminating reading ties together a lot of what you’ve been considering thus far. It would be best to refer back to your earier journals entries when thinking through your responses to this topic.

In this paper, I have taken EvG’s Radical Cvsm as a primary epistemological referent and added valuing referents drawn from the Critical Theory of Jurgen Habermas which focus our attention on the educational role of language, especially the quality of classroom communicative relationships. The following focus questions will help you to read and reflect on this article.

1. An emancipatory ethic is intended to support communicative relationships by enabling people to remove ‘systematic distortions’ that prevent them from dealing with others as ‘ends in themselves’. What are the main sources of systematic distortion which shape (restrain) the culture of the school science classroom that are considered here (and in Topic 4)?

The one main sources of systematic distortion is the ideological agency of language which can be used as a medium of communicative relationship. However, according to Taylor (1998), the communication can be distorted systematically as a consequence of using language as instrumental and strategic interest. Taylor provides an example when communicative relationships between people govern by instrumental or strategic interest, such as institution, as language become tools to maintain the relationship rather than challenge. Therefore, language can be seen as “distorting systematically the social reality of people’s live”.

The other main sources which influence the distortion in science classroom are teachers’ roles and views which are shaped by the hegemony of modernism. According to Polkinghorne (1992), the modernism tends to produce the knowledge and control human behaviour. Therefore, the modernist view influences teacher to be the controller, the dominated-power, and the trainer (Taylor, 1998; Taylor & Williams, 1992). Moreover, technical interests commonly shape the teacher-students relationship which focus on control and manage the learning environment in order to achieve the learning goal (Taylor & Williams, 1992). Students become the passive learners who don’t have power to determine their learning and make sense of their learning experiences. As a result, the science learning experience become reproducing the knowledge rather that stimulate inquiry. Moreover, according to Taylor (1996), the myth of hard control also influenced teachers to be a controllers, since they role as curriculum deliver. Curriculum which used to served the certain the interest of certain power seems to ignore the science relationship with the broader social values, beliefs, and practices of different cultures (Cobern & Taylor, 1998 ). In my experience, implementation of the standardize assessment caused the curriculum as the powerful source of knowledge, as the list of content which will be assessed students’ knowledge. As the result, rather than focus on engaging students through their own sense of science in their daily lives. Teachers prefer to focus on training the students to pass the examinations.

Moreover, according to Aikenhead (2000), students’ learning should recognize the border crossing of culture experiences between science culture and the students’ own culture which becomes distortion. In this stage, teachers become the mediator of this breaking-border rather than the controller. This enculturation process in the classroom will engage students into science culture, and help students to understand the role of science in their own culture.

2. What are the moral values associated with an emancipatory ethic? And why does RC’s referent of ‘viability’ seem to be inadequate? (the distinction between useful/good and morally right is important here)

According to Habermas, emancipatory ethic proposes the highest moral form of human endeavor which is rational communicative action to construct “a coherent society which prevail truth, intellectual freedom, and social justice. Taylor points out the communicative relationships need to be valued in order to achieve those goals. This communicative relationship will create “achieving mutual and reciprocal understanding”. Moreover, Habermas argues the important of language to achieve this goal. However, Taylor refers to the problems of using language which has “ideological dimension” which can serve as a medium of power.

Moreover, the opposite values of communicative relationship in science classroom is teleological principle of the “justifying the means”. Taylor provides example, when the primary goal of institution is efficiency, the communicative relationship will be valued as tool to achieve the privileged goal, so that the people “are at risk of not being valued as ends in themselves”. Therefore, teleological-utilitarian ethic which promotes the “good” (based on the theory of value) and the “right” (based on theory of morality) can’t help individual’s moral rights. In addition, in science classroom, this teleological ethic shape the objectivist epistemology which lead to the “free-standing” of scientific laws and theory as the mirror of Nature which represent in the content of curriculum. As a result, curriculum should be delivered efficiently, rather than educative relationship based on communicative action. Finally, in the science classroom, teacher becomes controllers, students should agree, and the learning process becomes knowledge and social reproduction.

In addition, different from the modernism view, the emancipatory ethic related to postmodernism epistemology of practice which seeks of the understanding, reconstructed, but no less critical and response. According to Taylor (1998), the emancipatory ethic destructs the systematic distortion and maintains the “mutual and reciprocal” understanding. Moreover, teachers need to move forward to integrate the moral accountability within their relationship with students. The ethics of emancipatory within educative relationships is important to respect on human dignity and equal freedom to learn. Moreover, this emancipatory ethic could be shaped by establishing the communicative classroom environment and critical discourse opportunities. As a result, science learning experiences becomes the process of self reflective of students’ “lifeword values and beliefs”. Therefore, emancipatory ethic brings the important moral value in education.

In addition, related to radical constructivism, Ernst (2000) provides two principles of radical constructivism within the concept of viability. First, knowledge is subjective based on the construction in individual mind through individual experience with the world. Therefore, it emphasizes the active process to build the knowledge. Second, the function of cognitive is adaptive, viability, and serves the experiential world, not discover the truth of reality. Therefore, radical constructivism’s is inadequate with the myths of modern science because it promotes the notion of viability which is concerned on the utility of knowledge for achieving the value goal. In addition, constructivism’s view of the social environment as the “collection of individual goal-oriented subjectivities which doesn’t serve teachers’ as “agents of politically driven or students’ competing for grades’. As a result, science classroom will be served certain power of people which could marginalize the existences of valuing the human being.

3. A paradox occurs when a teacher attempts (naively) to change the classroom culture by imposing an emancipatory ethic on students. How can an ethic of care help to avoid this problem?

Since emancipatory ethics promotes students engagement through critical discourse which involves (1) teacher-students negotiating to control the learning experiences (planning, assessment, etc), (2) students’ opportunity to express a critical voice and equality to learn. This critical discourse can be “two-edged sword”, although the constructivist teachers enable to enhace students’ learning, it will affect negatively for students who comfort with the objectivist epistemology. Students will resistance with the changes and prefer to be passive learners. Moreover, students, who used to have perceptions of the “normal” teaching and learning situation which teacher as controller and students as the receivers, could behave uncontrollable. Therefore, the struggle is to find out the value base for transforming in emancipatory sense which becomes as the central paradox of critical theory.

In addition, Taylor points out the ethic of care as “a means of inoculating communicative relations from the myth of rationalism”. The rationalism myth shapes the classroom beyond the objectivism where the myth cold reason and hard control takes the place. The feminist scholars argue that the myth of rationalism provides the narrow framework which serve the logic and control of the expert and ignore the others’ needs and emotions. The ethic of care in education context concerns on the relationship between a teacher and students which helps to avoid the hegemony of the technical interests which teacher as curriculum deliver and students as the acceptors. According to Sumsions (2000), caring is fundamental ethic to work with students which helps them to grow and achieve their potential. Through the ethic of care, teacher becomes “emphatic, honest, interdependent and trustful relationship with student”. Teachers can create the caring in the classroom by developing the students’ sense of belonging through students’ interaction, collaboration, and active participation (Rice, 2001). Moreover, Taylor points out that rather than force students to accept and imply transformative learning suddenly by establishing the teaching and learning roles, it is better for transformative teacher to adopt caring approach. According to Rice (2001), teachers’ level of care influences by their life experiences, however, teachers can practice their ethics of care through respecting and getting know the students. Moreover, the major changes of “educative relationships, legitimate well-recognized, accepted ways of knowing and being are the students’ need to be handle with care and sensitivity. In addition, Taylor proposes the three ethical principles within the context of epistemology transformation which teacher and students can monitor their classroom based on the communicative relationships:

1. Maintaining empathic, caring, and trusting and placing emotionally equal to reason

2. Applying the dialogical discourse to achieve understanding through self-disclosure of one’s goal interests, valued beliefs, and standards of judgment

3. Utilizing the meta-discourse by examining critically and visible the normative rules of social reality in the classroom

By utilizing the classroom under these three ethical principles, teacher-students’ relationship becomes collaboration process. Students feel free to express their voice emotionally and critically. As a result, students will view science learning experiences as “contented” process, meaningful, and engaging.

4. In the paper I argue that science teachers should develop an enhanced sense of moral accountability by embracing an emancipatory ethic and an ethic of care as guiding referents. From a pragmatic perspective, teachers need to achieve a balance between the competing interests of a range of stakeholders. What is your opinion on this issue, particularly in relation to your own moral accountability as a teacher? Is it desirable to embrace these ethical values? Is it feasible? If it is desirable but not readily achievable, what are the first steps that can be taken? Are other ethical referents worth pursuing?

Since I become a teacher, I believe that this profession has a great moral responsibility for the society and human being. Becoming a teacher means educating people to be the holistic individuals who will play their roles in the society. The “good” holistic individual, the great people and leaders will be shaped through education. Therefore, education plays important roles to build the community. However, the fact is education seems becoming the meaningless process which only list of content of knowledge which have to be taught to the students simply to pass the examination. As a result, the great goal of education process to generate the great people is failed. In addition, the way teachers handle the students will have the great impacts to the students, they could repeat and replicate the ways teachers behave. For example, teachers who give the bad or meaningless learning experiences could be repeated by students later, even they are not becoming teachers, but the way they teach others could be replication of their learning experiences. In addition, teachers’ moral, values, and ethics will influence students’ perceptions on the other people or the world which influence them to behave. Therefore, I believe that the ethics of care is important,

Moreover, the students are human beings, who need to be interacting with caring, trust, and empathy. According to Rossiter (1999) , “the student is always more important than the subject…[and] caring is not regarded as a pedagogical technique or strategy, but as the fundamental relation within which education occurs”. Moreover, the moral values are important to engage the students, not only within the relationships between teacher and students and also stimulate them to be the transformative learners. When students feel secure and comfortable to deal with the teachers, they will engage with the learning process. As a result, the transformative teacher could have capability to empower the students within the transformative learning process. Therefore, since I read the book of empathic intelligence and find out the influences of these approaches in the classroom and relate this concept with the ethics of care by Taylor, I am more confident that it helps me to empower my students to be transformative learner.

In addition, I have to be aware my students’ readiness on the transformative learning, constructivism approach which allow open and critical discourses. I realize, it is not easy to transform from passive learners to active learners as well as it is not easy for the teachers to shift their paradigms from controllers into negotiators. I think the “smooth” transitions need to be applied in the classroom. It also important to engage the students through collaborate planning of learning experience and listen to their silent voices. As a result, they will feel comfortable on the “new” learning experiences, because it also parts of their decisions. Moreover, using the individual experiential world as a starting point to engage and empower my students will be powerful. They will find the learning process is useful for their daily lives. Therefore, I need to help my students to be aware of the border crossing between science culture and their own culture as well as help them to cross the border.

Furthermore, within my own context teaching and as part of the national education goal, the religion and culture values in the classroom are part of “hidden” curriculum. According to Lake, Jones, and Dagli (2004), integrating the ethic of care into the curriculum needs to consider to engaging the students. Therefore, the other ethical referent which needs to be considering for me is ethical religion and culture. Even though, sometimes, it constrain the critical discourse in some ways, but it will be powerful to engage the students, since it is common that the religion and culture is a part of family education which is recognize as informal education system in my country. The ethical values in religion also recognize the care and empathy of others, therefore, it will be not contradict with the emancipatory ethic and the ethic of care.


Aikenhead, G.S. (2000). Renegotiating the culture of school science. In R. Millar, J. Leach, & J. Osborne, Improving science education: The contribution of research (pp. 245-264). UK: Open University Press.

Ernest, P. (1995). The one and the many. In L. P. Steffe & J. Gale (eds.), Constructivism in education (pp.459-486). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Lake, V., Jones, I., & Dagli, U. (2004). Handle with care: Integrating caring content in mathematics and science methods. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 19(1), 5-17.

Rice, C.J. (2001). Teacher’s level of care. Education, 122(1), 102-105.

Rossiter, M. (1999). Caring and the graduate student: a phenomenological study. Journal of Adult Development, 6(4), 205-216.

Sumsion, J. (2000) “Caring and empowerment: A teacher educator’s reflection on an ethical dilemma”. Teaching In Higher Education, 5( 2), 167-179.

Taylor, P. & Williams, M.C. (1992). Discourses towards balanced rationality in the high school mathematics classroom: Ideas from Habermas’ critical theory. Paper presented at the “Sociological & Antropological Prespectives Working Subgroup of the ICME-7, 17-23 August 1992, Quebec. Retrieved from http://www.

Taylor, P.C. (1996). Mythmaking and mythbreaking in the mathematics classroom. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 31(1,2), 151-173.

Taylor, P.C. (1998). Constructivism: Value added. In B.J. Fraser & K.G. Tobin (Eds.) (1998). The international handbook of science education (pp. 1111-1123). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publisher.

Taylor, P.C. & Cobern, W.W. (1998). Towards a critical science education

Reflections on Socio-Culture Constructivism (Journal 4B)

Journal 4B

I become comprehend that this unit wave me into depth understanding of the philosophy of constructivism. I agree that constructivism helps teacher to recognize the students’ nature of learning capacities, be aware of knowledge is mediated via representations, be ware of past learning experiences influences present learning, so, teaching and learning will be more meaningful (Fox, 2001). However, my problem is I have to struggle face different ideas about the concept of constructivism itself. I glad that from my previous journal on social constructivism at Driver article which I found simply interaction between students’ world and science itself but the reading in this journal floating me into the other concepts of enculturation itself. Therefore, I am really struggle to put myself understanding on each perspective. Moreover, I became more realize that there is no certainty in the knowledgeJ. Moreover, the idea of using constructivism as a referent also make me confuse at the first time, but the reading helps me to understand, because it also includes the problems on applying constructivism in term of curriculum, assessments, and research which I found really applicable for me. Therefore, the learning experiences in this journal inquire me to re-examine my perspectives on those concepts which as far I glad to have the understanding on those concepts (even in only in intelligible stage which conceptual change recognizedJ. At least, making sense is better than memorizingJ.

Furthermore, I agree that western science privilege mostly learning science in the school. Even though, I just heard the term of “western science” at SMEC. I used to recognize science concepts that I learnt throughout my education is the absolute true of knowledge which is not served any particular culture. Even though, sometimes, I think that why I never learnt about my culture in science even it relates to the science concepts. However, depth-philosophy on the pluralistic concept by Aitkenhead stimulate me to think reflectively on the multicultural people in Indonesia, because I recognize how the culture differences happened in schools in Indonesia, but I never taught it will be conflict for their learning process. Our teachers and me used to promotes the unity of each different culture in Indonesia and never stimulate reflective thinking on differences of each culture which can provide rich features of learning process, especially in science. I think that I should think about the role of different cultures in teaching and learning science in Indonesia J.

Moreover, constructivism as a referent is the new concept that I learn, I used to simply view constructivism as a view of learning which is applied as method. I agree that constructivism as a referent is more powerful than simply as a method. Since, I read this reading, I become realize why mostly teachers back to others theory of learning such as behaviorism, and even they know the powerful of constructivism theory of learning. Therefore, restraining my thinking only on using constructivism as powerful ideology and ignore others theory of learning doesn’t help me anymore. Moreover, the reading by Tobin and Tippins also make me “happy” J, because I used to blame the conditions in my country which the teaching mostly shaped by lecture (teacher-centre), since we have big classes. The idea of constructivism as a referent helps me to understand that constructivism could be applied in these conditions. I understand that how I could give my students opportunity to express their own meanings/prior knowledge and negotiate those meanings socially into the learning process. As a result, they become aware of their own thinking, learn to be aware of others’ thinking, and learn to appreciate and negotiate with different thinking/ideas. I agree of Tobin and Tippins ideas on making sense involves dialectical process both content and process, since I always thinks about the competition between content of chemistry knowledge and pedagogical skills for my students’ teacher. I realize that rather than thinking about the competition both content and pedagogical skills, it is better to think both of them are complementary each other. It means, it is important for my students to have depth understanding of chemistry content as well as pedagogical skills to represent chemistry in the classroom. Therefore, in my understanding of the reading, the authors point out the representing of knowledge is important to making sense of science. Furthermore, on research in education, I comprehend that the postmodernism is part of applying constructivism as a referent. It also reminds me on research studies in my university which explored the constructivism in the classroom, but in comparison between traditional teaching methods and constructivism under positivist paradigm. This type of research studies becomes meaningless, since the result must be simply constructivism is better than traditional without meaningful understanding on it.

Moreover, (again) I think that I could use the constructivist learning environment to give me the framework of my students’ thinking if I apply the constructivism approach. I realize my learning experiences at SMEC give me the rich understanding of each different perspective of using tools for understanding my teaching and learning. One example of the tools that I consider to be used is learning environment questionnaires. Therefore, throughout analysis the scale of constructivist learning environment on the previous journal (Journal 3A), I found it will be useful as reflective tool for me as a teacher who has willingness to apply constructivism in her classroom. As a reflective tool, this instrument could help me to understand my students’ thinking as well as to improve my teaching and learning.

In addition, I reflect on my teaching when I read the idea by Taylor on the myth of hard control, because I realize how I used to put my power to force students’ learning. Even, I had experience to push students on their achievement by using the “autocratic” language ;(. Based on my experience both as a leaner and a teacher, as a leaner, I view my teachers as “heroic individual” (Taylor, 1996) and the one who have power to decide my learning process as well as provide the absolute truth of knowledge. As a teacher, I also used to consider myself as the one who control my classroom, so, facing the passive learners is common happened in my classroom. I think that I became the replication of my teachers who play the role as a controller. Therefore, the example of a mathematics teacher who was struggling to apply constructivism in the classroom makes me reflect on the similar problems that I had in my classroom. However, I hope that using constructivism as a referent and reflective tool could help me to deal with these myths. Moreover, through this reading I becomes more realise on the limitations of conceptual change. According to Duit & Treagust (1998), conceptual growth which recognises different students’ conceptions is mostly happened in the classroom, rather than the conceptual change. However, I am still interested to more explore the conceptual change, since the education system in my country is mostly shaped by this concept. Exploring this concept will help me to understand the limitations within the implementation in the classroom. Finally, these rich learning experiences in this journal encourage me to apply the constructivism within my own context and I think that I also need to put integrated thinking on different perspectives of constructivism from the radical into the socio-culture constructivism.


Duit, R. & Treagust, D.F. , (1998). Learning in science-from behaviorism towards social constructivism beyond. In B.J. Fraser, & K.G. Tobin (Eds.), International handbook of science education, (pp 3-25). Britain: Kluwer Academic Publisher.

Fox, R. (2001). Constructivism examined. Oxford Review of Education, 27(1), 23-35.

Taylor, P.C. (1996). Mythmaking and mythbreaking in the mathematics claasroom. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 31(1,2), 151-173.

Socio-Culture Constructivism (Journal 4A)

Uwie 13621601

Journal 4A

I’d like you to explore the enculturation issue a little more because, in my experience, it connects our thinking to bigger picture possibilities for considering the efficacy of Cvsm for shaping teaching and learning.

1. Pluralism. What is Aikenhead’s argument about the shortcomings of the Social Cvst metaphor of ‘learning as enculturation’? Include in your response explanations of the alternative concepts of multiscience, acculturation, border crossing and concept proliferation. How does Aikenhead’s perspective compare with the Driver et al. pluralist notion of “conceptual profile”?

Aikenhead purpose the idea of pluralism in learning science which relates to interaction between different cultures of students and science itself (which represent as western science. School science should consider pluralistic of cultural perspective to be served in teaching and learning, so the silent voiced from other cultures will be heard. Since the science classroom is subculture from the school culture, students will face different culture experiences, such as culture of their own experiences (daily lives) and culture of the science itself (the multiscience). Therefore, learning should recognize this border crossing of culture experiences by the students. Then, the successful learning experiences will be the negotiating process between those cultures. Again, teacher’s role is important as “a culture broker” to introduce the culture borders, guide students to back and forth the border (I just remember the equilibrium concept in chemistryJ), help students to making sense of those different cultures, and motivate them to look at the contributions of “western science” in their lives.

Furthermore, enculturation in science classroom need to consider two perspectives: on students’ learning and political dimension. Aikenhead points out students’ learning stage into swallow, in-depth meaning making, and a cultural phenomenon itself. I consider these stages as hierarchy learning process which reminds me on Habermas three interests on technical, practical, and critical which are influenced by individual’s framework. In this stage, teachers play important role to engage students into each step. Teachers who only focus on students’ achievement to pass the assessments (Fatima’s Rules) and curriculum as a subject matter will result on students’ swallow learning. On the other hand, according to Solomon (1987) as cited in Aikenhead (2000), meaning making learning should include social constructivist of knowledge. As the term of social constructivism before, it will focus on students’ engagement in the enculturation process of their own science culture with western science (only). Move on to the next stage of learning as a cultural phenomenon, students will have opportunity to engage with multicultural of science, not only western science to understand themselves from their own culture. Even though process enculturation is similar with social constructivism by Driver et al in term of using everyday language, this perspective is different in term of placing the western science as a subculture itself, not as a main/focus of science culture. Social constructivist perspectives also recognize learners as anthropologists who have experience crossing over between everyday culture and science culture (Duit & Treagust, 1998), but the science culture is the western science itself. Driver et. al also points out teachers’ role as mediator to guide students within their everyday language and science world, but the science world itself is “western science”. Therefore, using language becomes important activity in enculturation learning process (Garrison, 1995). The problem is successful learning experiences only happened on the students who have identities and ability to harmonize their own culture (their everyday language) with the western science or have experience smoothly transition of their border crossing. Therefore, concept of proliferation seems to fail to uncultured the students, even the social constructivists’ teacher. On this perspective, Aikenhead proposes different idea of enculturation through the pluralistic of science in school/classroom to engage students throughout their own identity which recognize the equity for all students. Moreover, according to Holland (2000), cultural process must be highly dynamic and ever changing because the nature of minds and self states itself, moreover, it also involves personal meanings and subjectivity. Therefore, including culture into science will help teachers to engage students’ into their personal world

Furthermore, Ogawa’s multiscience doesn’t reject the western science, but involve learning within students’ own context (their own culture). However, some teachers and students are uncomfortable with this multiscience curriculum because they need to negotiate the border crossing between “science” and others. In addition, in multiscience students will have different experiences of border crossing different types of science which lead their understanding of : (1) their own biological and physical world, (2) their community, (3) another culture’s ways, (4). Norms, beliefs, values, and conventions of western science. On this process, students could free to take the science that makes sense to them which is called acculturation which individual take the features of other cultures. This acculturation process could empower students to participate in the community because they are aware of the border crossing of each science which is different from the concept of proliferation. Moreover, the notion of concept profile by Driver et al. provide opportunity for the learners to have plural conceptual schemes which appropriate for the specific social settings. However, when it is not appropriate or not making sense, the notion of replacement will be happened. On the other hand, Aitkenhead proposes the pluralistic which the new concept can be added to student’s conceptual profile and “old” concept which is the commonsense knowledge is still part of individuals’ conceptual profile. This process will give opportunities for students to have different perspectives which allow them to recognize the differences. Learning in this way will be challenging for them. However, some students and teachers who resistance with the changes will prefer to stay on the environment which Famita’s rules applied or the western science becomes the privileged science culture. As the result, learning as a cultural phenomenon which s proposed by Aitkenhead will be not powerful. Moreover, the stakeholders also need to be considered as a dominant power, so, the school science innovators must renegotiate their science culture. Finally, pluralism in science culture should be recognized and applied in the classroom to help students to engage with their learning within their own identity. However, negotiating the science content both from rational criteria and political power by stakeholders need to be considered.

2. Referent. A powerful way of avoiding the trap of seeing Cvsm as ideology (which is the case for both uncritical advocates and naive critics– there are many of both!) is to understand it as a referent. What do Tobin & Tippins (seem to) mean when they advocate considering Cvsm as a referent…and as a reflective tool? (Recall the ‘indirect’ argument in the previous Topic). Does it make good sense to talk about a ‘Constructivist learning environment’? (the survey instrument used in this online unit is called the Constructivist Online Learning Environment Survey’).

Tobin and Tippins propose the notion of constructivism as referent which is developed by Wheatley (1991). Wheatley described the approach of constructivism as referent or as known as problem-centre learning which allow students to construct their own meaning then negotiating socially in the classroom. Teachers’ role is to monitor students’ understanding and guide their point of views by elaborating, justifying, and evaluating. Furthermore, Tobin and Tippins prefer to apply constructivism as a referent to analyze learning potential in different situation, even on the teacher-centre or big classes. The important is learning should recognize the social process of meaning making of students’ experiences. Therefore, for improving learning, teachers should consider four elements: social process, making sense, experience, and extant knowledge). These four elements could be applied in any learning environments, however (again), it depends on the teachers to create the environment which support this learning experiences happened for their students. In addition, considering constructivism as a referent will help educators to deal with different way of thinking about education’s problem as well as solutions.

Moreover, constructivism may not usual consider as a referent, since constructivism is well known as a method of teaching and learning. Applying constructivism as a referent allows teachers to deal with the teacher-centered and bigger classes which are used to consider as the constrained conditions In addition, constructivism as a referent will need teachers’ creativity and critical thinking to analyze the best approaches of constructivism which could engage students within their own (constrained) conditions/context. The other problem (again), the resistance could be happened on the teachers and students who don’t want to change their framework, and choose to stay on their comfortable zone such as “only” apply traditional way of teaching and learning. Moreover, according Windschitl (2002), teachers face different types of dilemmas to apply constructivism, which are conceptual, pedagogical, cultural, and political dilemmas. These four dilemmas could cause the resistance for teacher to apply the constructivism, because they need to understand about the philosophy of constructivism, re-designing the learning experiences, teacher-students’ relationship, and resistance from the stakeholders. Therefore, applying constructivism need shifting paradigms from teachers’ and students’.

As a result, constructivism as a referent can be solutions for the problems on curriculum, assessments and research in education. Constructivism as a referent provides leaners to control their own learning and empower teachers to think about curriculum reform. On assessment, teachers could think about assessment as students’ motivator, assessment as “the window” of students’ knowing. As a result, different approaches of assessments can be applied in the classroom. Moreover, in research of education, the role of researcher “is to make personal sense of experience and, in socially mediate way, to build the knowledge”. As result, personal voice and experiences become important data for the research for improving education process.

In addition, constructivism as reflective tool could be used by the teachers to analyze their own teaching context in order to creating the learning process which is more engaging and productive for their students. As a result, these opportunities will give room for teachers to design the learning process for their students within their own context through a constructivist perspective which could lead to teachers’ empowerment. Therefore, even though within the big class, each student could have their own learning experience which is engaging because related to their own experiences. In addition, constructivism as a reflective tool will stimulate teachers as learners who have learning and teaching experience and give personal meaning of their experience through reflection.

Tobin and Tippins identify several basic principles of constructivism as guiding for science teachers to apply constructivism in any situations. Learners have opportunities to making sense of science through “an existing conceptual structure” which involves dialectical process both content and process. According to Fox (2001), science as a knowledge largely based on the social construction, but individuals may find their own science knowledge through their own experiences. However, for making sense of individuals’ experience, the role of language and representation is important, since human minds are shaped by language. Therefore, representation of science in the classroom is important to engage students into their learning. Teachers’ role as mediators in learning involves two critical components which are monitoring students’ learning and providing constraint to guide students’ thinking into productive directions. It doesn’t mean students don’t have opportunities to explore their understanding, but the constraint will help students to have depth-understanding and engaging on certain concept of knowledge. Moreover, teachers have to make sure that all students have equal opportunities for their own learning. Therefore, understanding character of each student’s learning is important to provide “solid base” learning for understanding.

Furthermore, the idea of constructivist learning environment questionnaire could be apply as a tool to provide the ideas of students’ thinking about their learning environment. It makes sense, because teachers’ views on their classroom may be different from students’ views. Teachers could believe that they already apply the constructivism and give opportunities for students to engage with their thinking. However, students could have different views such as the strategies are meaningless for them. Therefore, I think this instrument could be used as a tool to help teachers to reflect on their constructivism teaching. However, depth-observation needs to be applied to get the detailed and rich information of students’ view on their learning experiences.

3. Myths. Another powerful way of understanding the dynamics of enculturation (especially in school science and maths) is in terms of the anthropological concept of ‘mythology’. In this rather polemical paper (I’m softer these days!), what does Taylor mean by the myths of hard control and cold reason, and why might Cvst metaphors of ‘learning as conceptual change’ and ‘learning as enculturation’ be ‘swallowed up’ by them? What are the key features of Critical Cvsm that might help science teachers resist the ‘siren call’ of these myths?

Taylor refers to the myth of cold reason and hard control which mostly applied in teaching and learning science (my own experienceJ). He points out, there are two conditions which lead to the cold reason happened in the classroom, the absence of: (1) sense of socio-cultural (2) uncertainty of knowledge. Therefore, the pedagogical implications of this myth will lead to the belief of certainty in the knowledge. Furthermore, the myth of cold reason is considered as the other powerful objectivist myth since, it concerns on the idea of certainty of knowledge and finding the absolute truth. As a result, students must have the correct answers for problems. In addition, teachers who hold this myth will only focus on the students’ achievement, since it consider as the goal of “successful” learning and teaching process. As a result, math or science as a subject matter used to be considered as the knowledge outside the world which is not applicable, then if those knowledge are applicable, but it’s not making sense for the students. If this myth is shaped learning process in the classroom, the relevance of knowledge with the outside world will be consider as the “extra issues”, not as potentially motivating solutions for engaging the students. Therefore, the myth of cold reason restraints the enculturation process in the classroom, because there are no opportunities for students to construct or make sense of their own culture identity. Moreover, within the conceptual change learning approach, it becomes a problem because the learning process considers as transfer and replicate the knowledge. Even though, teachers try to guide students’ prior knowledge into the acceptance knowledge, the decontextualised of knowledge becomes border of this process. Moreover, conceptual change approaches also criticize as lack of socio-cultural and socio-emotional by learner (Berger & Luckman , 1966), and “ a model of cold and isolated cognition” (Posner et al.). As a result, science, math, or other knowledge becomes separate from learners’ world. Moreover, the myth of hard control is influenced by teachers’ role as curriculum deliver which seems to have “absolute” power to control the classroom which will lead to students as passive learners. Students would have less opportunity to express their voice and less power to determine their own learning. Learning becomes culture reproducing rather than challenges of students’ knowledge.

Critical constructivism is proposed by the author to deal with these myths. The concept is integration of “Habermas’s theory of knowledge and human interest, and theory of communicative action, and aims to reconstruct the culture of social setting. Consider the critical constructivism will provide opportunities for open and critical discourse in the classroom which lead to students’ self-critical reflection. Teachers should act communicatively within their “moral accountability for the intellectual, emotional, and social welfare for the students”. In other words, teachers play important role to create the learning environment which respect to students’ view, mutual trust, and good will. Becoming a teacher who has communicatively competent will empower teachers to renegotiate with technical interest both on teaching practice in the classroom and teaching profession. The implications of the communicative action in the classroom will help students to feel free to express their ideas without feel under pressure of teachers’ power. Moreover, critical discourse also allow the collaboration between teacher and students to control the learning environment in the classroom.


Aikenhead, G.S. (2000). Renegotiating the culture of school science. In R. Millar, J. Leach, & J. Osborne, Improving science education: The contribution of research (pp. 245-264). UK: Open University Press.

Duit, R. & Treagust, D.F. , (1998). Learning in science-from behaviorism towards social constructivism beyond. In B.J. Fraser, & K.G. Tobin (Eds.), International handbook of science education, (pp 3-25). Britain: Kluwer Academic Publisher.

Fox, R. (2001). Constructivism examined. Oxford Review of Education, 27(1), 23-35.

Garrison, J. (1995). Deweyan pragmatism and the epistemology of contemporary social constructivism. American Educational Research Journal, 32(4), 716-740.

Hollan, D. (2000). Constructivist models of mind, contemporary psychoanalysis, and the development of culture. American Anthropologist, New Series, 102(3), 538-550.

Taylor, P.C. (1996). Mythmaking and mythbreaking in the mathematics claasroom. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 31(1,2), 151-173.

Tobin, K. & Tippins, D. (1993). Constructivism s a referent for teaching and learning. In K. Tobin (Ed.), The Practice of Constructivism in Science Education (pp.3-21). Washigton: AAAS Press.

Windschitl, M. (2002). Framing constructivism in practice as the negotiation of dilemmas: an analysis of the conceptual, pedagogical, cultural, and political challenges facing teachers. Review of Educational Research, 72( 2), 131-175.


Up Coming Conferences:

  • · The ASERA Conference

The Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA) 2008

Brisbane from July 2 to July 5, 2008 at Rydges South Bank

  • · The WAIER Conference

Western Australian Institute for Educational Research (WAIER)

23rd Annual Research Forum

at Edith Cowan University, 2 Bradford Street, Mt Lawley

9.30 am – 4.30 pm, Saturday 9 August 2008

Probing for Students’ Understanding in Chemistry: Using Multiple Approaches (Part Four: two-tier diagnostic test)

1. Two-tier Diagnostic Test

The other approach can be used to investigate students’ understanding is two-tier diagnostic test which was developed by David F. Treagust. This approach is powerful to encourage students’ analytical thinking on understanding the concepts. In addition, there are varied format of this instrument (Mann & Treagust, 1998), but basically the first tier of each item in the test is a multiple choice of possible answers which relates to the problem statements. The second tier of each item is composed of a multiple choice set of reasons for the answer related to the first tier which consist of one scientific concept and others alternative conceptions.

Furthermore, this instrument can be used for formative assessments, assessing students’ understanding and encouraging them to think about the concepts rather than memorize the facts (Treagust & Chandrasegaran, 2007) which could lead to interesting discussion and meaningful information of students’ understanding. Moreover, since current assessment not provide valid measures of students’ knowledge and encourages discussion, this instrument could be a solution. It is because this instrument requires the explanation and answers which is given to assess students’ knowledge. According to Taber (2000) as cited in Levy Nahum, (2004), students’ explanations of scientific concepts is evidence of conceptualise process. Two-tier diagnostic instrument could be used as effective way of assessing meaningful learning among students. As a result the information could be used to improve teaching and address students’ alternative conceptions.

In addition, according to Treagust (1988), there are three main procedures to develop this instrument:

1. The content is defined by the identification of propositional content knowledge statements of the topic to be taught (using the concept map)

2. Information about students’ conceptions which could be found through literature review, students’ free explanations, and unstructured interview)

3. Development the two-tier multiple choice diagnostic items. First tier consist of content questions which could be 2-4 choices. The second tier consists of four possible answers given to the first part. Then, correct answers for both of tiers are correct

Moreover, there are several studies which have been investigated in chemistry: (1) chemical bonding (14-16 years students, first tier True or false, second tier explanation, (2) chemical reactions using multiple representations (grade 9) (enhance students’ ability to describe and explain some chemical reactions), (3) qualitative analysis, (4) ionization energies of elements, (5) acids and bases, and (6) states of matters (Treagust & Chandrasegaran (2007). However, according to Treagust & Chandrasegaran (2007), raw score on the test could underestimate students’ knowledge, for example students who looked on deeper meaning could give the answers which are categorized as wrong answer. Moreover, sometimes it becomes more tests taking skills rather than the extant knowledge. This is an example of process of development two-tier diagnostic instrument on chemical reactions:

Stage 1. Defining the content

Chemical reactions topic is integrated in secondary school in Indonesia consist of chemical change (law of conversion of mass), equation (products and reactants), energy (exothermic and endothermic), balance the equations, and type of reactions.

Stage 2. Investigate information about students’ conceptions

There are several studies on students’ alternative conceptions of chemical reactions:

1. Students find difficulties on balancing the chemical reaction equations on the concepts of subscripts and coefficients, (Sanger, 2005)

2. Students’ alternate conceptions in chemistry on the conservation of mass, molecules, and atoms during a chemical reaction is “the total number of molecules is also conserved in a chemical reaction”, Mulford and Robinson (2002)

3. Students think that boiling is part of chemical reactions because of the bubble formations (gas) and students also find difficulties to understand different types of chemical reactions and how it’s happened which is related to chemical bonding (my experiences on teaching chemical reactions)

Step 3. Develop the two-tier multiple choice diagnostic items

Example Items 1 are modified version from existing instruments. Item No. 2 is developed by Chandrasegaran, Treagust, & Mocerino (2005) :

1. Salt (NaCl) is added into the water, and then it is heated. After couple minutes the salt can longer be seen, bubbles come out and the water will taste salty because the chemical reaction is happened.

a. True b. False


1. *The heat water break up the chemical bonding in the salt compound into Na and Cl

2. It is only solution process, because salt is soluble in the water

3. The chemical reactions is happened because the bubbles is indicator of chemical reactions

4. Water molecules surround the salt molecules and break up the salt into smaller particles

5. __________________________________________

2. The symbol for the magnesium present in magnesium ribbon is

A. Mg b. Mg2+


1. Magnesium has a charge of +2

2. The Magnesium atom is highly reactive

3. The Magnesium atom has positive nucleus

4. The particles in magnesium are neutral atoms

Furthermore, this instrument is important for my pre-service teachers as well as the teachers not only to assess their alternative conceptions but also to investigate their students’ understanding. As a result, the information from this instrument could be used to choose the appropriate teaching approaches to deal with students’ alternative conceptions.


Firstly, probing students’ understanding in chemistry need to be concerned by teachers, not only to obtain information about students’ conceptions, but also as starting point to choose appropriate teaching strategies. Information of students’ understanding could help teachers to understand the problems which are held by the students to understand the concepts.

Secondly, questioning and interview approach are powerful to probe students’ understanding through depth probing. However, these approaches require much time and substantial skills. In addition, concept map and concept cartoon are useful to stimulate students’ attention and motivation. These approaches could be applied within different procedures and purposes. The two-tier diagnostic test is not only to probe students’ conceptions and understanding, but also could be used as formative assessment and discussion topic.

Thirdly, all approaches could be used to probe students’ understanding, stimulate the discussions, motivate students’ learning, and create meaningful learning experiences. However, each approach has own characteristic, strength and limitations, therefore, teacher may choose the appropriate approach to be used in the classroom.