Chapter 1


1.1                      Background of Study

Color mixing skill is among the most important topic in visual arts education curriculum. This skill is contained in visual arts education curriculum for all levels of lower secondary art education and will be applied in proceeding art activities taught in higher secondary levels. More importantly, the said skill is a must have because a large percentage of marks during grading involves painting activities such as still life, landscape, logo and poster drawing.

Color mixing skill is quite a difficult field for a student to master. This is due to the fact that painting skills require a cognitive understanding of colors, color mixing techniques and a good visual sensory combined with adequate psychomotor control, which best describe as brushing control with  the ability to make choices on the application of necessary discipline that has to be adhered with regard to the painting medium of choice. For example, some of those techniques are, dry on dry, dry on wet, wet on wet and wet on dry for a water color painting medium. All these skills will be made more difficult for the students to master if the teachers entrusted with the teaching of the said subject are not adequately skilful.

It is a widely known fact that not many art teachers received formal and proper education in this field. Apart from having to acquire a high quality brushing skills, students must also understand color mixing techniques in order to produce good art works. It is very clear that colors in tubes that are available in the market are inadequate to fulfill the color requirements of a good artwork unless through the skills of color mixing to obtain the real and exact color as required. In order to achieve this objective, all visual art teachers must strive to master the skills of color mixing.
The state of Sabah has an area covering 73,710 square kilometers while Sarawak has an area of 124,449 square kilometers. The size of both these states exceeds the size of the whole of Peninsular Malaysia which is only 131,598 square kilometers. Comprising of wide geographical coverage, hilly and mountainous, comprises of numerous islands and rivers; these give rise to scattered and loose communities with the lowest population density when compared to that of the Peninsular.  The Education Departments of both Sabah and Sarawak face various challenges and setbacks in their effort to provide high quality education to the students of these states especially in the often mountainous rural areas.
Plate 1 – Sabah Map 
 Based on the analysis done by the Sabah State Education Department, this state is, overall,  generally lagging behind when compared to other states in Malaysia, mainly due to lack of infrastructure and amenities.

The state of education in Sabah is still lagging when compared to Malaysia as a whole,and this is largely attributable to the lack of infrastructure and facilities. This is mainly due to the fact that 72%33 of Sabah’s schools are located in rural areas. As a result, the problems of rural education are magnified in Sabah.
In terms of infrastructure and basic utilities, there is still much work to be done. Most rural schools lack 24-hour electric supply, supply of clean water, access to computers, and science laboratories. In terms of the availability of teachers, the teacher-to-student ratio in Sabah is more favourably at 1:13.934, compared to the Malaysian average ratio of 1:16.435. However, due to the geographical spread of students, there is still a shortage of qualified teachers in Sabah.
 (Sabah Development Corridor Blueprint 2008-2025)

This is due to the fact that about 72% of schools in Sabah are located in rural areas (Kementerian Pendidikan Sabah 2008). Hence, the problem of providing rural education is becoming more critical in Sabah. From the available manpower perspective, the ratio of teachers to students in Sabah is currently at 1:13.9, which is better when compared to the average Malaysian ratio of 1:16.4.

Previous studies showed that most schools, especially rural schools, experienced lack of teachers. This setback may have resulted in teachers having specific teaching options not assigned to those schools. Consequently this problem caused the school to face difficulties in determining the appropriate teachers for any given subject matter. Lack of qualified teachers to teach visual art education resulted in the school administrators being forced to place teachers with different teaching options to teach the said subject. Previous studies showed that there were situations where visual art education was taught by religious, science and mathematics teachers, among others. While this countermeasure will solve the problem where lack of teachers occurs, it does not in any way help to improve or increase the mastery of the various skills that should be acquired by the students as specified by the education curriculum. These ad hoc teachers mostly do not possess basic knowledge in arts which caused problems when they were delivering their lessons.
Due to the complexity of this situation, the researcher chose the Keningau district as his research and study location. 90% of the population in Keningau are Dusuns and Muruts, 8% are comprised of Chinese and other indigenous locals. Based on Banci Penduduk 2000, Jabatan Perangkaan Malaysia , the breakdown of ethnic groups are:
(Jabatan Perangkaan Malaysia 2000)
  • Dusun - 55,607
  • Murut - 23,823
  • Chinese - 9,082
  • Bajau - 9,009
The actual population of Keningau is however much larger than the recorded figure above, as illegal immigrants from Indonesia and the Philippines form a major population component of the district. These illegal immigrants can enter Sabah easily via the open surrounding seas or the porous inland border with Indonesia. Traditionally, the communities living in this area are involved in agricultural activities such as paddy planting but there are also those that hunt or fish along the rivers.
The town of Keningau is located at about 138 kilometers from Kota Kinabalu. The said research area covers about 3532.82 square kilometers. Geographically this district is huge valley that is surrounded by the Crocker Range in the west and by the Trus Madi Range in the east and south. However, in an area of this size, there are only 11 secondary schools catering to the local population, and they are:
(i)                 SMK Tulid
(ii)               SMK Apin-Apin
(iii)             SMK Keningau
(iv)             SMK Keningau II
(v)               SMK Sook
(vi)             SMK Gunsanad II
(vii)           SMK Bingkor
(viii)         SMK Gunsanad
(ix)             SMK Ken Hwa (CF)
(x)               SMK St. Francis Xavier
(xi)             SM Teknik Keningau
An analysis made on students achievements in SPM examination 3 years ago clearly suggested, that in schools where the teaching staffs do not possess the appropriate art education option, showed unsatisfactory examination results. This phenomenon is very obvious in almost all the schools where art education is taught by non-optioned art teachers in the research area of interest.

Sabah Education Department, in its special publication Sabah Development Corridor 2007, has stated that the level of education in Sabah is generally still lagging behind when compared to the rest of Malaysia. This is mainly due to lack of infrastructure and ammenities available. This problem is compounded by the fact that 72% of the schools in Sabah are located in rural areas. Hence, the problem of providing education in the rural areas is still in a critical stage in Sabah. (Sabah Development Corridor Blueprint 2007)

According to the Education Development Master plan (PIPP) as announced by the Ministry of Education in 2007, teachers that are required to provide their services in rural schools will be provided with new incentives and ammenities. Even though the Ministry of Education plays an important role in addressing issues of teaching qualities, the incentives given to teachers that are willing to teach in rural schools show that lack of teachers still cause a huge problem to the nation. Teaching qualities that were mentioned also described the efforts to provide and enable teachers with the appropriate degrees and options to teach in their respected fields.

In Sabah, especially in the rural areas, shortage of teachers still exists. Art education, for example, is still being managed by non-optioned teachers. A quick survey done on several secondary schools discovered that there are many higher secondary students whom have not mastered basic art techniques such as color mixing which should have been acquired since in lower secondary years.
The subject of art education has often been described as easy-to-pass during exams. All any candidates require to pass the paper is to understand the needs of the questions and subsequently produce artworks pertaining to the needs. However, this is not enough to justify getting excellent marks. The candidate should be able to produce a convincing artwork focusing on the given topic, exhibit good brushing technique, apply a mature color selection, detailed in producing 2D objects and shows enough creativity. Surely all these skills will be difficult to handle by any teachers not optioned in art education.
Nevertheless, it cannot be said that the failure of students in obtaining excellent grades in art education can be solely blamed to the subject being taught by non-optioned teachers. We fully realized that the failure to achieve excellent grades in any fields or subjects are also caused by other related problems. Mediocrity can also rise from issues affecting school management and culture, parental influence, surrounding communities, apart from other factors such as ammenities and economy. Moreover, several studies had stated that the proficiency in this subject does not provide good prospect in obtaining a career. This is made worse by government regulations that provide more emphasis on other subjects resulting in demoralisation of teachers and students alike, thus dampening their spirits in maximizing their efforts for achieving excellent grades during examinations.
Whatever the reason, efforts to solve this problem must continue. Attempts to improve the situation in a stage-by-stage, focussed, deliberate and continuous manner, enhanced by the application of relevant technologies, should be allowed and encouraged.

1.2     Problem Statements

As someone that has acted as an art teacher in the rural area, the researcher had found that the skill level of students in forms 4 and 5 in color mixing is low. It has been realized that the situation has been caused mainly due to the teachers in lower secondary grades are not from the art option. This basic art skill has not been emphasized because the teachers themselves lack understanding or do not possess enough knowledge and skills to conduct teaching and learning of the subject.
Based on data from Pejabat Pendidikan Daerah Keningau, the numbers of teachers involved in teaching visual art education in secondary schools in Keningau are 72 teachers, which can be categorized into the following:

Non-graduate Teachers
Graduate Teachers
Visual Art Option
Non-Visual Art Option
Visual Art Option
Non-Visual Art Option





Table 1: The numbers of teachers involved in teaching visual art education in secondary schools in Keningau

From the figure shown, out of 72 art teachers in Keningau, only 10 art teachers are of the art option whereas 62 do not possess such option. This data revealed that 86% secondary school art teachers in Keningau are not from the art option. Due to shortage of teachers, non-art optioned teachers have been appointed to handle the teaching and learning of this subject. This is one of the factors that has to be considered by the researcher in developing the interactive software for color mixing skills. It is a way that can be offered as a solution to the situation where there exists a lack of qualified teachers in visual art education especially in rural Sabah.
Creating a specific software or courseware that will enable teachers to enhance their understanding on color mixing in art education is the right step that has to be supported, especially by those who realise the importance of art in contributing to developing the nation, hoping that the subject of art education will develop and prosper as enjoyed by other subjects. Priority should be given to inject immediately, knowledge and understanding to art teachers that are not that of the art option, one of the most important topics in the syllabus of visual art education which is color.

1.3     Significance of the Research

Although art is not a principal subject in secondary school and is optional in SPM, we should be concerned about the problem below par performance of non-option art teachers.  Are they competent enough to carry out their task as an art teacher? Can their students paint well and produce a nice painting? In fact, the performance of students in painting also depends on the effectiveness of their teacher in delivering lessons in the classroom.
The application of interactive multimedia in education has been widely used, especially as teaching aids for helping students gaining knowledge in effective and attractive way. Its benefit can be applied on art teachers as well. It can be a self-taught approach for them. When the software concerning color mixing is developed, it will be beneficial to art teachers in secondary schools, whose knowledge in color mixing are minimal and needs to be improved.  It will help art teacher to develop and enhance their skill and knowledge in color mixing. They can produce any new colors they require after receiving guidance from this software. It also enables to facilitate their understanding in the shortest time possible.
Even though the target group is art teachers in secondary school, art students will also benefit from this software. They even can use it to get knowledge about color history, color theory and color mixing. Then, they can transfer their newfound knowledge to their palettes and sketch books to experiment what they have learnt from the courseware.
Furthermore, this courseware also can be used by beginner painters. They can gain basic art knowledge from this courseware and try to paint by themselves.        

1.4     Aims and Objective

This aim of the research is to discover the appropriateness of interactive software usage among secondary school visual art teachers in increasing their understanding of colour mixing.

The objectives of the research are:
(i)                 to identify whether there is any interactive software concerning colour mixing provided by Ministry of Education as art teachers’ resource material.
(ii)               to develop an interactive software relating to colour mixing.
(iii)        to identify whether the develop interactive multimedia is compatible for secondary school art teachers in learning about colour mixing.

1.5            Hypothesis

Interactive software usage offers a simple way for art teachers to learn and understand theory and technique of color mixing.

1.6     Limitations of Study
1.      The developed interactive software will not consist a large numbers of value ranges of colors.
2.      The developed interactive software will not be applicable to all brands of watercolors in the market. The production of a new color from mixing color technique depends on the brand of the watercolor. The result may vary.

1.7     Delimitations of Study

1.      This research is confined to secondary school art teachers who teach in Form     to Form 5 in Keningau, Sabah.

2.      This courseware focuses exclusively on the mixing of watercolors and it   is subjected to the approved art syllabus.

3.      This study concerns only on the appropriateness of interactive software usage in helping secondary school art teachers increase their understanding about mixing colours. Measuring the effectiveness of the developed interactive software is not within the scope of this research. 

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