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MAT MALAYSIA FINGERS-THE PERIODIC TABLE OF ELEMENTS

By :

TN HAJI ABDUL KAHAR BIN ISMAIL


SMK Dato’ Penggawa Barat
Jalan Parit Mesjid
82000 Pontian,
Johor

ABSTRACT
This study was carried out to overcome certain problems faced by students in determining the order of electron
also known as electron configuration and its application within the relevant chapters. The study was carried out
on 39 students placed in two different classes, namely 5 Cemara with 15 students and 5 Dahlia with 24
Students. Electron configuration is as important as it arranged in such an order which determines the location of
a certain element in a periodic table. A periodic table consists of a column which is the group, and a row which
is the period. The groups represent the valence electron which is also the charged carried by a certain ion when
the element ionizes. Student ought to bear in mind the number of charge for a certain element to enable them
to build the formula of the compound formed. Identifying the metal element and the non-metal element is also
paramount in enabling them to distinguish the type of bond formed, either an ionic or a covalent bond when 2
elements combine to form a compound. This the Teknik Jejari Malaysia or The Malaysia’s Finger is a crafted
technique which I hope is able to guide student in memorizing the electron configuration of the first 20 elements
in the periodic table. Indirectly as well this technique may also assist students in applying the electron
configuration to reformulate the compound formula and to identify the bond formed. They are also expected to
use the technique as a guidance in deciding the type of covalent bond formed weather it is a singular covalent
bond, double or triple. My initial observation during the detection test discover that my sample still came up
short in deciding the electron configuration, particularly if the elements is represent by arbitrary letter of the
actual elements. This engendered the students’ failure on identify the compound formula formed, and they
would naturally fail to produce a balance equation. To test this technique, I had introduced this technique to the
students of 5 Dahlia while 5 Cemara students were made the control group. The pre and post-test were held
and the result revealed the score ( between the pre and post-test ) for 5 Dahlia was significantly higher
comparison to 5 Cemara .

1.0 REFLECTION ON THE PREVIOUS TEACHING AND LEARNING ACTIVITIES

Topical detection test is a regular employ early in the year for the form 5 students. They are
new students whom I hardly know since I’m entrusted to teach only form 5 students the
chemistry subjects. I needed the early information on the students understanding of every topic
they learned previously in form 4, in order to plan for any remedial or enrichment program. The
initial data (Form 4 End of year examination) was not encouraging. The overall Average Grade
was 6.68, 17 % of failure (9G) while 38% obtain 7D or 8E, compared to the SPM 2006 result in
chemistry with the average grade of 2.71.
It seemed that the remedial plan had to urgently implement. However, the question was which
topic had they specially proven weak. Two early detection test ( Test 1 covered topic 2 and 3
while test 2 covered topic 4 and 5 in the form 4, chemistry curriculum specification ) revealed
that 69% students was weak in the topic of periodic table and 71% of them was weak in the
topic of Chemical bond. Both topic are important in the chemistry subject, interrelated and were
consistently combined in SPM questions, as well as act as a foundation for formula formation of
chemical compound and balanced chemical equations. A specific method which can assist
students to master both topics must be produced to overcome the problem.
Using the periodic table chart and periodic table model, I embarked the remedial process
(during the afternoon class) with a special emphasis on the two topics. Revision using the
Periodic table chart and model formation has reaped satisfactory result. 87% of the target group
was able to master the periodic table very well during the exercise given. Assisted by the
Periodic table, they were then able to identify the location for a certain element when the
number of proton was given, writing the electron configuration, guessing the metal element as
well as the non-metal element. They were also able to relate a specific group with the chemical
properties. Revision on exercise given also exhibited their ability to differentiate the compound
produced when two specified elements combine to form a compound. However I was still
disappointed when they showed a poor performance when a second test on both topics was
analyzed. A mere 12% obtained A, 35% B, 28% C and the rest D. Even though nobody failed, I
was expected a better result considering the excellent respond shown during exercises. Clear
enough, there was a separating gap between my teaching and the available and observed
knowledge of the students. The causes of students’ failure must be recognized and I must
improve on my teaching technique so that the problem shackling the students in the 2 chapters
can be remedied.

2.0 ISSUE OF CONCERN

Periodic table is the fourth topic in the form 4 chemistry lesson, and this topic is related to the
5th topic of Chemical Bond. Students ability to master this topic will help them to master two
topics simultaneously; Periodic table of elements and Chemical Bond.
Referring to 4.1 learning objective “Analyzing the Periodic Table of Elements” students are
expected to
• identify groups and periods in the Periodic Table
• state the basic principle of arranging the elements in the Periodic Table from their
proton numbers
• relate the electron arrangement of an element to its group and period
• predict the group and the period of an element based on its electron arrangement
Meanwhile, the 4.2 learning objective “Analysing Group 18 elements” expected students to:
• relate the inert nature of Group 18 elements to their electron arrangements,
• relate the duplet and octet electron arrangements of Group 18 elements to their
stability
For the 4.3 learning objective “Analysing Group 1 elements” stipulates that the students attain
the level to
• describe the similarities in chemical properties of lithium, sodium and potassium,
• relate the chemical properties of Group 1 elements to their electron arrangements,
Finally, 4.4 learning objective “Analysing Group 17 elements” stipulates that students to
master:
• relate the chemical properties of Group 17 elements to their electron arrangements,
It’s obvious that the core issue which needs to be stressed here is the electron arrangement of
a certain element. An identified electron arrangement can help students determine the location
of a certain element in periodic table. Unfortunately electron configuration is not displayed in the
periodic table spite of its importance in deciding which group an element should be placed in.
Group identification can provide some information about the similarity and order of chemical
properties compared to an element of the same group.
Thus, this study will focus on the electron arrangement of the first 20 elements in the periodic
table. For SPM level, the first 20 elements are made as important basic for students to
understand this topic. As a result, their mastery of electron arrangement will enable them to
write correct chemical formula when 2 elements combine in forming a compound. Their in-
depth understanding in the periodic table topic will also enable them to identify the bond formed
in the combination of 2 elements; weather the element formed is created through ionic bonding
or covalent one.
The core issue worthy of consideration by the students is how to memories the electron
arrangement of an element so that they can answer any questions related to the two topics.
Hence, the focus is how I can make memorization of the electron arrangement a breeze for the
students, without referring to the periodic table. If primary school students can use their fingers
to memories the multiplication table for 9 the physics subject with its Fleming’s left hand
principle, why not the chemistry subject used the Jejari Mat Malaysia to identifying the metal
and non-metal element, group, period and the precise location of an element in the periodic
table.

3.0 STUDY OBJECTIVE

3.1 General Objective


To enable students to use their finger and the fingers’ segments to identify the electron
arrangement of an element in constructing molecular formula for a compound formed
by elements in the periodic table.
3.2 Spesific Objective
1. Student can identify the location of an element with the no of
proton provided
2. Student can write electron arrangement if an element placed in the
periodic table
3. Student can identify the metal and non-metal element after having
identified the element location
4. Student can write the formula of an ion compound formed by the
combination of 2 elements
5. Student can identify the covalent bond formed when the
combination of 2 non-metal elements combined.

4.0 TARGET GROUP

39 form 5 students ( 15: 5 Cemara students and 24: 5 Dahlia) Both classes displayed the
biggest pool of failure of 88% failing to master the periodic table of elements and chemical
Bond Topic. 15 students of 5 Cemara consists of 8 boys and 7 girls, while 5 Dahlia consists of
8 boys and 16 girls.

5.0 CARRYING OUT THE STUDIES

5.1 Survey of the Problems

5.1.1 Observation
To identify the students’ weaknesses in the two topics – Periodic Table of
Elements and Chemical Bond, I did an extra classes in the evening. My
sample was Form Five students and both topics were their revisions. Exes in
the two topics – Periodic Table of Elements and Chemical Bond, I did extra
classes in the evening. My sample was Form Five students and both topics
were their revisions. Exercises were given based on the topic and later a
discussion was carried out based on the completed exercises done by the
students. Observation was carried out on how the students response to the
questions given before the discussion. I also checked on the answers given. I
introduced the Jejari Mat Malaysia method and once again I observed how the
students response to the questions in their exercises.

5.1.2 Interviews
Two interviews were carried out.
5.1.2.1 Before the introduction of Jejari Mat Malaysia
This interview was carried out to find out why:
5.1.2.1.1 The students fail to use, apply their knowledge of the
Periodic table to decide the formula for the chemical bond.
5.1.2.1.2 The students were unable to identify the location of certain
elements iin the Periodic Table.
5.1.2.1.3 The students were unable to identify the metal and non-
metal elements when these elements were represented by
the alphabets (P,Q, R….) but the name or the symbols for
the elements like Li, H or Lithium or Hydrogen when
given.

5.1.3 Pretest and Posttest


The questions for the pretest covered the two topics which were the Periodic
Table of the Elements and Chemical Bond. The questions given were
structural questions [Appendix C]. After the pretest, I divided the students into
two groups. For the Form Five Dahlia which consisted of 24 students, I
introduced to them Jejari Mat Malaysia method while the Form Five Cemara
underwent a remedial process using coloured Periodic Table and 3D periodic
table. The posttest was later given. The Jejari Mat Malaysia method was the
method that I used temporarily for Form Five Cemara as a controlled group.

5.2 Problem Analysis/ Analysis of Problems

5.2.1 Observation Analysis


An interesting thing that I observed was all the Form Five
Dahlia students did not use their reference books when the exercises were
given compared to the Form Five Cemara students. They were now
comfortable in using the method to help them answer the questions. While
checking their exercises I found out that:
5.2.1.1 100% of Form 5 Dahlia students were able to identify the metals and
non-metals elements when they were given the names or the
alphabets to represent the elements.
5.2.1.2 100% of Form 5 Cemara were able to identify the metals and non-
metals elements if the name for the metals were given but 3 out of 15
students failed to classify the metals or non-metals elements if
alphabets were used.
5.2.1.3 100% of both forms were able to place the elements when the
configurations of electrons were given but when only the number of
protons were given only 12 out of 15 students were able to answer it
correctly compared to all the 25 students of Form Five Dahlia.
5.2.1.4 100% of the students were able to identify the kind of bond formed
when two elements were combined.
5.2.1.5 100% of Form 5 Dahlia were able to identify the kind of covalent bond
formed when two non metals elements in the same group compared to
only 6 students from Form Five Cemara.
5.2.1.6 19 out of 24 students of Form Five Dahlia were able to identify the
chemical bond of two non metals elements from different group
compared to only 4 students from Form Five Cemara.
5.2.2 Analysis of the Interviews
5.2.2.1 The students failed to use and apply their knowledge of the periodic
table to determine the formula for the chemical bond.
5.2.2.1.1 All 39 students stated that they did not know the
relationship between the groups in the periodic table with
the particles charge to form the chemical bond
5.2.2.1.2 All 39 students stated that they had to memorize the metal
and non metal ions given by the teacher and this helped
them to build the chemical bond
5.2.2.1.3 34 students stated that they faced difficulties to memorize
the metal and non metal ions. The excuses given were:
5.2.2.1.3.1 There were two metals with two particles.
5.2.2.1.3.2 The ions given were negative which combined
with 2 non metal elements like sulphate which
formula is difficult to remember .
5.2.2.1.3.3 The name for the metals are not the same with the
symbols used like Sodium which has the symbol
of Na
5.2.2.1.4 36 students stated that it was difficult for them to
determine the properties of the chemical bond if the name
for the metal is not given since they had to memorize the
properties given.
5.2.2.1.5 All the 39 students claimed that they did not faced any
problems to determine the formula for the chemical bond if
the properties were known. They had no problem to use
the cross reference method taught by the teacher.
5.2.2.2 The students were unable to determine the location of certain elements
in the periodic table
5.2.2.2.1 28 students admitted that they were at times confused of
what to be the basic to determine the position of certain
elements, between the number of proton, the number of
neutron and the number of electron.
5.2.2.2.2 8 students admitted of not remembering the position of the
electrons which needed to be arranged based on the
number of protons which is similar to the number of
electron [neutral elements]
5.2.2.2.3 37 students stated that they did not face any problems to
decide the location of certain elements if the arrangement
of the electrons is known.
5.2.2.3 The students were unable to identify the metal or non metal elements
when they were represented by alphabets [P, Q, R] but not the name
or the symbol used to represent the same elements like Li, H or
Lithium or Hydrogen.
5.2.2.3.1 All 39 students said that they did not face any problem to
differentiate between metal and non metals elements if the
name was given since the the metal elements end with
..um.
29 students claimed that they had no problem to differentiate between metals and
non metals if the periodic table is given even if not coloured.
5.2.3 Pretest and posttest Analysis
Below is the scoring for the pretest and posttest for the 39 samples of Form Five
Dahlia. M represented the male students and F represented the female
students.

No Name Pre Post No Name Pre Post


Test Test Test Test
1 Dahlia L 1 43 70 1 Cemara L 1 54 60
2 Dahlia L 2 42 74 2 Cemara L 2 42 52
3 Dahlia L 3 42 80 3 Cemara L 3 68 72
4 Dahlia L 4 46 74 4 Cemara L 4 52 61
5 Dahlia L 5 48 67 5 Cemara L 5 42 57
6 Dahlia L 6 43 68 6 Cemara L 6 43 54
7 Dahlia L 7 42 68 7 Cemara L 7 47 68
8 Dahlia L 8 45 63 8 Cemara L 8 43 77
9 Dahlia P 1 55 85 9 Cemara P 1 51 78
10 Dahlia P 2 43 77 10 Cemara P 2 53 78
11 Dahlia P 3 42 68 11 Cemara P 3 43 67
12 Dahlia P 4 48 76 12 Cemara P 4 41 78
13 Dahlia P 5 46 87 13 Cemara P 5 42 65
14 Dahlia P 6 58 88 14 Cemara P 6 43 67
15 Dahlia P 7 68 86 15 Cemara P 7 45 69
16 Dahlia P 8 68 88
17 Dahlia P 9 52 78
18 Dahlia P 10 58 84
19 Dahlia P 11 41 67
20 Dahlia P 12 43 59
21 Dahlia P 13 68 88
22 Dahlia P 14 44 57
23 Dahlia P 15 58 88
24 Dahlia P 16 62 82
the results indicates that there was an increment in the scores for both methods.
However, the scores which were more than 80% were scored by the Form Five Dahlia
students.

Comparison of the pretest and posttest


The findings indicated that there was an increment in the scores for both remedial
methods used. Although there was no decrement in scores and no one scored more
than 90%, the increment of scores could be clearly seen among the male students of
Form Five Dahlia compared to the males students of Form Five Cemara. Below is the
comparison min scores for both classes. It can be seen that there is an average
increment for the Form Five Dahlia students than the Form Five Cemara.
The table below shown the differences between Pre Test and Post Test of 5 Dahlia dan
5 Cemara

Sampel Pos – Pra Beza Sampel Pos – Pra Beza


Dahlia Cemara
1 70 - 43 27 1 60 - 54 6
2 74 – 42 32 2 52 - 42 10
3 80 – 42 38 3 72 - 68 4
4 74 – 46 28 4 61 - 52 9
5 67- 48 19 5 57 - 42 15
6 68 – 43 23 6 54 - 43 11
7 68 – 42 24 7 68 - 47 21
8 63 – 45 18 8 77 - 43 34
9 85 – 55 30 9 78 - 51 27
10 77 – 43 34 10 78 - 53 25
11 68 -42 26 11 67 - 43 24
12 76 – 48 28 12 78 - 41 37
13 87 – 46 41 13 65 - 42 23
14 88 – 58 30 14 67 - 43 24
15 86 – 68 20 15 69 - 45 24
16 88 – 68 20
17 78 – 52 26
18 84 – 58 26
19 67 – 41 26
20 59 – 43 16
21 88 – 68 20
22 57 – 44 13
23 88 – 58 30
24 82 – 62 20
Min Kenaikan 25.6 Min kenaikan 19.6
markah markah

5.3 Implementation of the Action

After the diagnostic test, I found out that 5 Cemara and 5 Dahlia students were very weak
in both chapters (Periodic table of elements and Chemical Bond). To make it easy for me to
compare between the two remedial methods, I have decided to do the remedial based on
their own classes. 24 students of 5 Dahlia were introduced to the Jejari Mat Malaysia
Method while 5 Cemara undergone the remedial process using colourful periodic table and
periodic table model with 3D boxes. Though they were two different methods, students
were still given the same practices to response to after the 3 series of remedial process
that took 2 hours each. Then, post test was conducted. Observation was made when the
students were doing their practices. After the post test, 5 Dahlia students were interviewed.

5.4 Implementation of Action Research and Observation/Evaluation

This action research was conducted in 4 weeks. The sample of this research was the form
5 students while the topic chosen was the form 4 topic. this shows that remedial had been
carried out to the students in the afternoon session. Pre test was given to the weak
students who were weak in both chapters that were Periodic table of elements and
Chemical Bond (identified through diagnostic test). Through this diagnostic test, the weak
students were those who scored below 50%. Although there were 14 students who scored
above 50% during the pre test, they were still given remedial lessons. The diagnostic test
covered all the focused sub topics that was on electron arrangement and its application.
The interview was carried out in a mass to identify why they still could not master both
chapters. The result or data was then analysed to assist in the remedial process. The
aspect that needed to be emphasized was the important essence in the remedial process.
For the remedial process I used comparison. The Jejari Mat Malaysia method (refer to
Appendix A) would be compared to the controlled method that used 3D model periodic
table and colourful periodic table. This remedial process was conducted separately
according to the afternoon extra class time table (from 2.30-4.30). 3 remedial series were
conducted in the afternoon for two hours using the chosen methods for 2 groups of
students from 5 Cemara and 5 Dahlia. In the remedial process, 5 Dahlia students used
their hands and fingers to represent the periodic table. The drawing of the hands (refer to
Appendix E) was given to help them visualize and refer to the periodic table and their
fingers. They were required to answer the practices based on both chapters. The questions
were the same for both classes. Observation was made (refer to Appendix B) when
students answered the practice module given after the discussion. (refer to Appendix C).
The final session was the post test and discussion. The questions in the pre and post test
were the same.(refer to Appendix D)
For the sample from 5 Dahlia, they were interviewed once again to identify the
effectiveness of Jejari Mat Malaysia . The findings from the interview has helped me to
identify which aspect or skill is effective in helping students to master both topics after they
use the technique of Jejari Mat Malaysia . The findings from the interview has helped me to
improve on this technique which will be used for further research in the future. Maybe, the
result of this study can be developed and introduced to other schools which are facing the
same problems.

5.5 Reflection on Action Research

After discovering that there were some students who failed to master the important topics
which were the basic in the chemistry lesson, I began to think of their failure. Maybe it was
due to the failure to digest what the teacher has taught or explained especially on
something abstract. If I could visualize those abstract into real things or real objects in front
of their eyes, I believe those students can apply them while completing the task given.
The result shows that my students can use part of their bodies during learning process.
Even though they still have to the practice but the use of Jejari Mat Malaysia technique
helps them to solve problems relating to electron arrangement and its use. This can be
observed when comparison is made between Jejari Mat Malaysia technique and module
method. Although the students were given the same practices and the same time duration
but their level after the remedial process was different.
As for me, this research gives some space to use a variety of approach to help students to
master one topic effectively. Moreover, with the current situation that chemistry is taught in
English, I believe that it gives me a great challenge to vary my teaching method so that I
can give the best for my students.

6.0 SUGGESTIONS AND RECOMMENDATION FOR FURTHER RESEARCH

To further use Jejari Mat Malaysia I wish to do this research for form 4 students who have
not studied this chapter. This will provide me with a valid and reliable data to improve on Mat
Malaysia Fingers.
I hope to develop a computer software to strengthen the technique of Jejari Mat Malaysia
suitable to the use of Periodic Table in other chapters which is the foundation to their
understanding in chemistry lessons.

Reference A : The Method of Using/Applying Mat Malaysia’s Finger / Jejari Mat Malaysia ----
Periodic Table

How to use Jejari Mat Malaysia


( Refer to diagram 1 )
• Left Hand :
o Representing metal elements
o The ring and the middle finger is hold tight as they don’t have any elements in
the period 1,2 and 3 for this group
o Notice that this hand symbolized the letter “W”. If we turn the alphabet it turns
to the letter “M” , M means metal
o The thumb represents Group 1
o The index finger represents Group 2
o The ring and middle finger representing 5 groups of elements in the Transition
Metal each (altogether 10 groups)
o The little finger representing Group 13
• Right Hand
o Representing non-metal elements
o Starting from the small finger which representing Group 14
o Ring finger - Group 15
o Middle finger - Group 16
o Pointed finger - Group 17 ( Halogen )
o Thumbs - Group 18 ( Noble gases )
Diagram 2

Diagram 1

The location of the Period ( Refer to diagram 2 )


• Long nails of the two thumbs are period 1
o Suitable to be used to symbolizes 2 elements that are the smallest and lightest gas.
o This period has only 2 members and located in group 1 and 18
• Period 2
o All the first segment / metacarpus of each finger
o There are only 8 elements in group 1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18
• Period 3
o All the second segment / metacarpus of each finger
o There are only 8 elements in group 1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18
• Period 4
o All the third segment / metacarpus of each finger
o There are 18 elements; however students should remember 2 elements in Group 1 and
2 only.
o For transisition elements, 4 segmen / metacarpus which held tightly symbolise 4
special features of this group which are
 Form coloured ions
 Form different oxidation numbers
 Form complex ion
 Useful as a catalyst in industries

How to remember the Electron Configuration and number of proton? As the real periodic table,
the element is arranged according to the increasing number of proton from left to the right.
No of Proton and Electron Configuration:
• First Elements (Hydrogen)
o No of proton is 1 and electron arrangement ( 1 )
o Situated in Group 1 Period 1 ( The nail of the left thumb )
• Second Element ( Helium )
o No of proton is 2 and electron arrangement ( 2 )
o Situated in Group 18 Period 1 ( The nail of the right thumb )
• Third element
o The number of proton is 3 and electron configuration is ( 2.1 )
o Situated in Group 1 Period 2 ( First segmen/ metacarfus of the left thumbs)
• 10th element
o The number of proton is 10 and electron configuration is ( 2.8 )
o Situated in Group 18 Period 2 ( First segmen/ metacarfus of the right thumb)
Proton: 4 Proton : 5
Electron elektron
arrangement: arrangement:
(2.2) (2.3)

Proton: 6
Electron
arrangement:
(2.4)
o

REFERENCES
Huraian Sukatan Pelajaran Kimia, Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia.