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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Science education in Indonesian religious schools

PI: Askuri Ibn Chamim (, Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies
U.S. Partner: Joel Kuipers, The George Washington University
Project Dates: January 2017 - December 2019 

Project Overview:

5-429 Group Photo
U.S. Partner Joel Kuipers (seated, at far left) and PI Askuri Ibn Chamim (seated, far right) gather with participants in their Workshop of Experts in Science Education, held in Yogyakarta July 25-27, 2017 (photo courtesy of Dr. Chamim)
The underachievement of Indonesian science education reform efforts and the continued problem of Indonesian low scores on international assessments of science education at the pre-university level are matters of serious concern. Not only do these problems have implications for the future of Indonesia’s workforce, their continued neglect could affect the future of Indonesia’s democracy and international stability. Among the lowest scoring of the Indonesian student populations are those who graduate from the country’s religious schools, currently 20% of the student population. The study draws on best practices in science education and links them with professional development practices that are tied to curriculum units that will actually be used in classrooms. The objectives of the project are to (1) determine and describe how science is taught in Indonesian Islamic schools and propose an curriculum intervention that is aligned with the national curriculum; (2) apply the intervention in the classroom and describe and analyze its implementation; and (3) compare the intervention with control groups and report the findings. The work will involve significant partnerships with leading universities in three key cities in Java: Yogyakarta, Malang, and Surabaya. Enhancing the capacity of the Indonesian educational research community to describe and evaluate its own educational system is an important benefit of the proposed research.

This research will produce a model for the treatment in science education in religious schools. A key feature of the treatment program is to develop a learning method that integrates religious motivation with motivation to learn science. The results of this research will be disseminated to stakeholders of educational providers in Indonesia, especially operators of religious schools, to be adopted and developed in the context of each. The largest operators of religious schools in Indonesia are NU and Muhammadiyah, two major Muslim organizations in this country. Mr. Askuri and his team will establish cooperation with these two organizations to implement the science education curriculum integrating the religious approach as a result of this project. Furthermore, the organizations will be encouraged to develop this new approach further in their individual contexts. This project will also train dozens of researchers from various universities in Indonesia and build their capacity through workshops and interdisciplinary collaborative research. In addition, this program will also train dozens of science teachers in the latest scientific learning methods. One output of the project will be teaching materials that can be used by teachers for classroom instruction and by students for independent study. This teaching material will be created in open-source digital format, so it can be replicated broadly by other schools that are not included in the project.

Summary of Recent Activities

From July through early October, this PEER team was busy implementing the science education modules they designed in religious schools in three cities and collecting data on the process as it moves along. At the start of this reporting period, Dr. Askuri and his colleagues presented a workshop for the teachers and researchers involved in the project. Using the training and materials they received at this workshop, the teachers began implementing science learning modules with students in their respective schools in all three cities involved in the project: Yogyakarta, Lamongan, and Malang. Each teacher conducts science lessons in accordance with this project module in one class, and science lessons using materials that they normally use in another class, so each will have one intervention class and one control class. This project examines six schools in each of the three cities for a total of 18 schools. So far, more than 500 students have been exposed to the science learning modules developed in the project.

Meanwhile, researchers in the field have started making audio and video recordings of every activity in both the intervention classes and the control classes. In general, the implementation and data collection activities have gone smoothly. The PI is actively monitoring the research sites in Lamongan and Malang and the co-PI is responsible for monitoring in Yogyakarta. In addition, the team has carried out the first evaluation for the implementation of the module and research in the three cities. In each evaluation, all the targeted teachers and all researchers in the city were invited. The results of this mid-course evaluation suggest a need for a little adjustment in the field, both for teachers to implement the module and for researchers to collect data, especially when researchers are in the classroom. These adjustments will be made as the implementation and data gathering activities continue during the coming months.

In addition to the originally planned activities under the PEER project, Dr. Askuri reports that his work focused on junior high students and teachers has served as inspiration for another program. The PI served as a resource person and facilitator in the workshop entitled “Integrasi Al Islam Kemuhammadiyahan Ke'Aisyahan (IAiKA) dengan Ilmu Kebidanan” ("Workshop on Midwifery in Integration with Al Islam Muhammadiyah Aisyiyah – AIKA”), held October 3-5, 2018, and attended by 72 participants from all over Indonesia. Based on the PI’s presentation at the workshop, the Association of Muhammadiyah Midwifery (AIPKEMA) has committed to adopting the Islam-Science integration in their curriculum. They are currently building a module for their midwifery college students on the integration of Islam with midwifery in Muhammadiyah Aisyiyah tradition.

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