The introduction of multimedia into the teaching and learning environment has change the instructional strategies, the roles of the teachers, students and technologies and also the ways students learned generic skills. The objectives of this research are to assess the effectiveness of using multimedia in learning generic skills and the factors which influence the results. Questionnaires and structured interviews were used to collect the data for analysis on 52 students taking multimedia course as a vocational subject in an academic secondary school. The students under this study were exposed to multimedia in a constructivist approach to design multimedia products in a project-based and problem-based learning environment which would give them the opportunities to inculcate generic skills. The results of this study showed that using multimedia in a constructivist learning environment had a positive impact on the generic skills. The results also showed that from the students’ perspective, the role of the teacher was considered the most important factor in their learning of generic skills. On the whole, the study showed evidence that the roles of the teachers, the instructional strategies and approaches used, the students’ competence in multimedia, the multimedia facilities and the attitudes of the students towards using multimedia in learning generic skills were the favourable contributing factors to the results of this study.
The main problem in many countries today is that the skills acquired by graduates in education institutions do not match the skills needed by the industries. Many of the graduates are found to be lacking in qualities and skills related to creativity, communication, critical thinking, analytical and problem solving (Tan, 2000). As a result, the rate of unemployment among university graduates today is high. In order to overcome these problems, generic skills need to be given emphasis in the teaching and learning process so as to be more functional and adaptive to the needs of the work place (Curriculum Development Centre, 1995). As the present uses of multimedia in education is increasing and encouraging (Baharuddin Aris et al., 2002), this study will focus on its effects in learning generic skills. Multimedia production as a vocational subject introduced to academic secondary schools since 2003 is used by the researcher to study its effectiveness in learning generic skills. It is taught by modular learning and competence-based assessment modes with the aims to produce students with knowledge, abilities and generic skills such as critical and creative thinking skills and working in groups to cater for work opportunities in the near future (Curriculum Development Centre, 2002). There are limited research literatures on the use of multimedia in learning generic skills (Jonassen, 2000). The available researches about the effects of multimedia in learning technical skills and generic skills show mixed results. Previous research results have shown that multimedia has positive impact on real life problem solving skills (Blumended et al., 1991), working as a team (Fullan, 1993), collaboration, critical thinking skills (Neo and Neo, 2001) and encourage creativity and active participation (Roger, 2002). The effects depend on the ways multimedia technologies are being integrated and embedded in the learning activities and competent of the students in multimedia software and hardware skills. Teacher has to play the role of a facilitator (Dufty & Jonassen, 1991) in supporting learning of the skills.
|MULTIMEDIA IN EDUCATION|
Multimedia is defined as the latest information technology which enables the integration and manipulation of video, audio, text, graphics and animation to present information to the users through computer system (Baharuddin Aris et al., 2002). Emphasis is given to learning the skills by the users, who combine, edit and coordinate sound, graphics, pictures, texts and related computer software to produce quality multimedia products.
Multimedia in education can be categorized depending on the approaches and uses. The uses of multimedia in education can be classified into interactive tutorials, reference materials, learning aids, presentation of information and others (Phillips, 1997). Kendal (1994) categorized multimedia in education into construction and exploration. Many colleges and universities today are moving towards using multimedia digital technologies to enhance the learning of generic skills (Cook & Cook, 1998).
In this study, generic skills are referred to problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, information technology skills, communication skills, collaborative skills and creative thinking skills. Generic skills are in fact hard to be taught in a formal way, but many researchers agreed that these skills will best be learned in a meaningful context through the right teaching approaches in normal learning programmes (Oliver & McLoughlin, 2001).
Problem Solving Skills
Study by Agnew et al. (1996) has shown that learning activities, assignments or projects using multimedia encourage the students to think critically and creatively, able to solve problems, work in groups, make decision and gain information technology skills. According to Rio Sumarni Shariffudin (1999), teaching and learning materials with interactive multimedia elements can act as cognitive tools to learn problem solving, critical and creative thinking skills.
Critical Thinking Skills
As mindtools, multimedia can be used to learn critical thinking skills (Jonassen, 2000). Findings by Cradler et al. (2002) also show that multimedia presentation and communication tools can develop critical thinking skills when presenting, publishing and sharing the products of the project.
Creative Thinking Skills
The uses of multimedia enable different ideas to be illustrated and this will encourage creative thinking (Woodbridge, 2004). Furthermore, the application of multimedia designs will enable the students to present information and knowledge in more innovative ways. Findings by O’ Connor and Brie (1994) have also shown that using multimedia technologies could support learning of problem solving skills and increase the creativity of the students. The study is consistent with the study by Neo and Neo (2001) which states that the construction of multimedia project will enable the students to seek relevant information and this will likely lead to the increase in creative thinking by the students to produce quality and interesting presentation.
Information Technology Skills
It is of paramount importance to train students to have the abilities to process meaningful information and to build their own knowledge. Many studies have shown that the development of computer programmes by students will improve these skills (Black et al., 1988). In order to construct multimedia project successfully, students need to use various sources of information, work collaboratively with others and apply cognitive tools to plan, organize and evaluate the products. Teachers need to make sure that students have learned from various sources such as internet, CD-ROM, educational software and others. Jonassen et al. (1999) stated that using multimedia technology and computer will support exploration by the students in seeking more information for problem-solving.
According to Collins (1991), collaborative learning is becoming a trend in schools which use computer multimedia technology. Multimedia technology could be used to promote the learning of collaborative skills by the students and the teachers. The use of multimedia with authentic audience could motivate and encourage students to work as a team even better (November, 2002). A study by Bolliger (2003) on a group of university students using multimedia in a constructivist learning environment found that collaborative skills could be fostered through project activities.
The results of the study by Berson (1996) showed that multimedia design activities for presentation can develop students’ collaborative, communication and problem solving skills. This study is supported by the results of Jonassen et al. (1999) which stated that using computer and multimedia technologies support learning communication through collaboration with others. Similar study by Liaw (2001) also agrees with the findings that multimedia act as a tool in today’s education to support interactive communication.
The objectives of the study are:
to identify the types of generic skills taught by the teacher to the multimedia students;
to identify the factors which influence the learning of generic skills using multimedia;
to identify students’ perception towards using multimedia in learning generic skills;
to investigate students’ views and attitudes towards using multimedia in learning generic skills;
to investigate the effectiveness of using multimedia in learning generic skills among the students.
The research involves a case study on one secondary school in the interior of Sabah. Research data was gathered among students using questionnaires. Interviews were conducted to support the data. This study consisted of 60 multimedia production students from a national secondary school in the interior of Sabah. The generic skills under this study are critical thinking, creative thinking, problem solving, communication, collaborative and information technology skills. The factors which influence the learning of generic skills using multimedia are the characteristics of the teacher, the teacher’s teaching methodology and approach, students’ competence in using multimedia, students’ attitudes towards using multimedia and the availability of multimedia learning facilities.
The sample for this study consisted of 60 multimedia production students from Bukit Garam Secondary School, Kinabatangan, Sandakan. Eight students were selected randomly for the pilot study and 52 others were used as a sample in this study. Out of the 52 students, 10 students were randomly selected to be interviewed. The instruments for this study consisted of items in the questionnaires and structured interviews based on the objectives. The study used a 5-point Likert scale with score 1 represents strongly disagree, score 2 represents disagree, score 3 represents not sure, score 4 represents agree and score 5 represents strongly agree.
A pilot study was conducted on 8 students to test the validity and reliability of the instrument used in this study. The validity of the questionnaires and structured interviews has been verified by three experience professionals who have been involved in multimedia for more than three years.
Reliability of the instrument used in this study was tested using the Cronbach’s coefficient alpha (a). Part I in the questionnaires referred to the types of generic skills taught by the teacher and the result of the Cronbach’s coefficient alpha was 0.88. Part II of the questionnaires was to identify the factors affecting the learning of generic skills such as student’s attitudes toward using multimedia, students’ competence in using multimedia, multimedia facilities in the school, the characteristics of the teacher and the teaching methodology and approach. Part III was to find out students’ perceptions towards using multimedia in learning generic skills. Questionnaires in Part IV was to study students’ level of achievement in mastering generic skills such as the information technology skills, collaborative skills, critical thinking skills, creative thinking skills, communication skills and problem solving skills. On the whole, the values of Cronbach alpha registered for all the items for all the parts were found to be more than 0.70.
The data was analyzed using SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences Version 13.0) software package. The means and standard deviations items in Part I, II, III and IV were calculated. The means with score from 1 to 3 represent students’ disagreement with the items and means with score from 4 to 5 represent students’ agreement with the items of the study. The analysis of the results from interviews was used to identify the views and attitudes of the students towards using multimedia in learning generic skills and to substantiate the findings from the questionnaires.
|RESULTS OF THE STUDY|
The overall mean scores for types of generic skills taught by the teacher ranged from 4.25 to 4.60. The collaborative skills showed the highest mean value whereas the score for the problem solving skills was the lowest. The mean values for all the types of generic skills were more than 4.00 which implied that students have gained these generic skills through using multimedia. The results of the factors affecting the learning of generic skills showed that the mean score for the characteristics of the teacher was the highest with value 4.84 and the mean score for multimedia facilities was the lowest with value 4.40. The mean values for teaching methodology and approach was 4.63, students’ competency in multimedia was 4.57 and students’ attitudes towards multimedia was 4.48. The mean values for all these factors were more than 4.00 which implied that all the factors affected the learning of generic skills.
The students’ perceptions towards using multimedia in learning generic skills has a mean score of 3.52. This result suggested that the perception of the students towards using multimedia in learning generic was positive and encouraging.The responses from the structured interviews on the attitudes and views of the students towards using multimedia in learning generic skills were gathered and analyzed to compare with the findings from the questionnaires. The mean scores for the students’ level of achievements in generic skills range from 4.22 to 4.44. Collaborative skills came up first with the highest mean value of 4.44 whereas the information technology skills was the lowest with mean value of 4.22. The mean scores for communication skills, critical thinking skills, creative thinking skills and problem solving skills were 4.35, 4.32, 4.23 and 4.26 respectively. With all these mean values more than 4.00, the results concluded that the respondents agreed that multimedia was effective in learning generic skills.
Types Of Generic Skills Taught By The Teacher
The results show that the teacher inculcates collaborative skills most and are followed by creative thinking skills, information technology skills, critical thinking skills, communication skills and problem solving skills as in the order. Collaborative skills have the highest mean score as the students have more opportunities to work cooperatively among themselves to do project in groups after school. Through modular learning, students studying Multimedia Production are encourage to explore skills and improve problem solving and creative learning.
Factors Affecting Generic Skills Learning
The result shows that the main factor affecting the learning of the generic skills is the characteristics of the teacher. It is followed by the teacher’s teaching methodology and approach, students’ competence in using multimedia, students’ attitudes towards using multimedia and the multimedia learning facilities. All these factors are found to positively affect the effectiveness of learning generic skills among the multimedia students. In this study, the teacher plays the role of a facilitator. The teacher used various methodologies and approaches such as constructivist learning, problem-based learning and project-based learning to encourage the students to learn generic skills. Learning activities were mostly hands-on. Students were trained to be competent in multimedia software and hardware in producing multimedia presentations (Curriculum Development Centre, 2002). The multimedia software and hardware facilities also affect the learning of generic skills. The mean score for this factor was found to be the lowest. It is due to the fact that most of the students do not possess computer and multimedia software at home and there are limited internet facilities and accessibilities in the school and the surroundings.
The mean score for teaching methodologies and approaches has the second highest score which implies the importance of this factor in learning the generic skills. The results are consistent with the previous study which shows that development of generic skills depends on the teaching approaches which stressed on the student-centered process and activities. Students’ competence in using multimedia affects the learning of generic skills. The result is consistent with the views of Cohen and Scardamalia (1998) related to project-based learning and is substantiated by Carroll and Bowman (2000) which shows that students who are competent in using multimedia and content knowledge are capable of learning generic skills.
The result also shows that students’ attitudes towards using multimedia affect the learning of the generic skills. Students who have positive attitudes towards using multimedia will be able to explore more information, actively involve in problem-solving and work collaboratively with the peers to increase their understanding (Orlich et al., 1998). Learning multimedia facilities and tools also affect the effectiveness of learning generic skills by the students. Due to the lack of facilities, the mean score for this section is lower. The result is consistent with the study by Vaughan (1998) which stated that multimedia facilities are needed in multimedia class for effective learning multimedia skills and technologies.
Students’ Perceptions Towards Using Multimedia In Learning Generic Skills
The results show that the students have a positive perception towards using multimedia in learning generic skills. Students agreed that multimedia hands-on and minds-on activities help them to develop problem solving and thinking skills. This finding is also consistent with the views of Cradler et al. (2002) which suggests that multimedia can improve critical thinking skills and also enable the students to cooperate and interact with others. This is consistent with the previous study by Jonassen et al. (1999) which stated that multimedia can reinforce collaborative learning between students and prepare students with skills needed in real life situations.
Attitudes And Views Of The Students Towards Using Multimedia In Learning Generic Skills
The results of the structured interviews which consisted of eight questions were analyzed. Responses from the students have shown positive attitudes and interest towards multimedia learning. The roles of the teacher as a facilitator and the use of various teaching approaches such as constructivist approach, problem-based learning, project-based learning and hands-on and minds-on activities are the main factors affecting the effectiveness of learning generic skills. This is consistent with the findings by Gokhale (1995) which stated teacher plays an important role in creating conducive teaching and learning environment to develop the students’ generic skills such as critical thinking skills, collaborative skills and problem solving skills. Responses from the students show that generic skills can be inculcated using multimedia to encourage them to learn problem solving skills. The result is consistent with the findings by Neo and Neo (2001) which showed that using multimedia in learning encourages students to think critically, to solve problem, to seek information and become more motivated. On the whole, the students are more positive and they agreed that using multimedia helps to improve generic skills.
The Students’ Level Of Achievements In Generic Skills
The results show that the effects of multimedia in learning collaborative skills, communication skills, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, creative thinking skills and information technology skills are positive. These results partly replicate the study by Neo and Neo (2001) which stated that using multimedia in teaching and learning environment enable students to master these skills and also show better motivation and positive attitudes in the learning process. The factors mentioned earlier are found to have affected the effectiveness of learning generic skills. The findings also show that the score for collaborative skills is higher than the scores for other skills. The result is substantiated by the fact that the students are staying in the dormitory and learning is extended after school to do authentic projects by using project-based learning and problem-based learning with the teacher as the facilitator.
The study also shows that high collaborative skills can lead to higher communication skills. As shown by the result, students who cooperate with each other in exchanging ideas and opinions and presenting their works will be more involved in communication process. This result is consistent with findings by Boud and Feletti (1997) which states that students will be able to develop their communication skills through sharing ideas and working as a team in learning. In this study, the mean score for critical thinking skills is higher than creative thinking skills. This is because the multimedia production students are taught using modules and assessed on their competence from the evidence of the process and the products which stressed on critical thinking skills. The mean score for information technology skills is the lowest due to the lack of facilities as mentioned earlier. The result is consistent with findings by Hoffman and Richie (1997) which stated that students need a lot of information sources for problem solving that are related to the relevant context of learning which will stimulate critical thinking skills. This result is compatible with the findings by Jonassen et al. (1999) which showed that using computer and multimedia technologies support information seeking by exploration.
|RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH|
The findings from this study could be used for future research as follows:
The study focused on only one school which offered multimedia production course. It is recommended that future research is carried out on more schools which offered this course from different environment and also on other multimedia related subjects.
The types of generic skills in this study and the factors affecting the effectiveness of learning the skills are limited. This study can be extended to other factors, variables and other types of generic skills as well.
The instruments used in this study are questionnaires and structured interviews. Future study could involve other instruments such as observation and evaluation of the process and products from the outcomes of learning generic skills.
Despite the limitations, the results of this study are relevant to theorists, teachers and educational administrators. The results show that multimedia could have positive impact on learning generic skills by the students. The study also implied that factors affecting the effectiveness of learning generic skills are characteristics of the teacher, teaching and learning methodology and approach, students’ competence in multimedia, students’ attitudes towards using multimedia and the multimedia facilities available. The study also shows that multimedia could be effective in learning generic skills among the students.
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