REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Related literature was reviewed based on the following major areas:
A Conceptual Framework
The conceptual framework of this study was done in these areas: concept of reading/reading comprehension, the concept of voluntary reading, the concept of reading interest, student’s attitude towards reading/teacher’s competence, the place of reading in the secondary school curriculum/ time table, large classes, environmental/cultural factors and the students reading interest, methods of teaching reading, gender and reading interest, the chief examiner’s reports on SSCE past examinations, analysis of students five-year performances on WASSCE, students’ reading and achievement in reading comprehension.
B Theoretical Framework
The theories of learning that guided the study are Anderson’s Schema-Theoretical Model of Reading and Edward L. Thorndike’s Theory of Connectivism (S-R).
C Empirical Studies
D Summary of Literatures Reviewed.
The Concept of Reading/ Reading Comprehension
English language scholars like Carrel in Matthew, Thomas, Manzo, Anthony & Casale (2005), Anderson (2011), Carr (2010), Ekpu (2005), Omojuwa (2005), Udosen and Ukpak (2005) have given various definitions of reading as well as reading comprehension. Reading is an interaction between the reader and the text (Matthew, Thomas, Manzo, Anthony & Casale 2005). Carr (2010) similarly defines reading as an interactive process. Reading is the process of combining textual information a reader brings to a text with a previous knowledge. The reading process is not simply a matter of extracting information from the text, rather it is one in which reading activates a range of knowledge in the reader’s mind that he or she uses, and that in turn may be defined and extended by the new information supplied by the text. Reading is a dialogue between the reader and the text. This is obvious because meaning cannot be divulged from information. Behind every information is meaning which the reader gets in the course of reading.
Anderson (2011) holds that reading is not a passive but rather an active process, involving the reader in an on-going interaction with the text. Reading is therefore an active process. Reading is further expanded to meaning seeking, information processing (how language and thought interact) as well as the sociolinguistic aspects (language operating in a social context including writers as readers).
Similarly, Ekpu (2005), Omojuwa (2005), Udosen and Ukpak (2005) have the same view that reading is getting meaning from a text or from symbols that represent the spoken language. Reading, therefore, is interacting with the language that has been coded into print. Thus, reading is a must for a secondary school student who wants to excel academically and otherwise.
Maduabuchi (2005:66) conceives reading as “a process and not a product” which characterize an ongoing activity that begins long before the child gets to school and continues to develop through life. Reading involves learning it and it equally incorporates the individual’s linguistic knowledge and can positively or negatively be affected by non-linguistic internal or external variables. Richgels in (Maduabuchi 2005) therefore notes that reading comprehension is the result of a successful interaction of a reader with a text. This goes to strengthen the fact that reading has to be a part and parcel of students’ life for a good academic performance.
Reading good books is very important for the child's academic growth and parents should be reading models as well as provide interesting books in their homes. Uyoata (2005:41) realizes the importance of books and reading when she stated that “African parents should show good examples to their children by reading to the younger ones.” However, the status of the home must be considered. The poor illiterate homes may not rank the purchase of books high as against the purchase of food. An illiterate home will not be able to set the foundation for reading. O'Reilly and McNamara (2007) observe that there are proportionally many more reading failures among children who come from poor homes than there are among their affluent age peers. They thus conclude that illiteracy and poverty are contributing factors to students' poor reading habits. It therefore, becomes the responsibility of the primary school teacher to build in the pupils the love for reading.
Contrary to various definitions of reading, Aukerman and Aukerman in Potter (2011) are of the opinion that reading is not synonymous to deriving meaning from the printed page; in fact they assert that there is no meaning at all on a printed page. To be found there are only lines and curves that we happen to call letters from which we build words. According to them, comprehension will not be found on the printed pages but in the mind of the readers who read the words. It is difficult to agree with these researchers because both the printed pages and the readers mind work simultaneously to achieve comprehension.
From the view of Potter (2011), it is clear that experience is necessary for the comprehension of a text. Then, what is comprehension? Anderson (2011) defines comprehension as an interaction of new information with old knowledge. Similar to the views of Aukerman and Aukerman in Potter (2011), Anderson (2011) equally analyzes another type of interactive model of reading, namely a schema-theoretical model. The researcher show how reading comprehension involves interaction between old and new information. The research focus on how the readers schemata, or knowledge already in memory function in the process of interpreting new information and allowing it to enter and become a part of the knowledge store. Abioye (2010b) equally upholds the same view. To him reading comprehension is processing written language to get ideas, relating ideas to experience, organizing ideas, evaluating ideas and utilizing ideas. for this to be possible, the reader equally must have intelligence, language and experience. Imam (2004) also posits that comprehension is building bridges between the known and the new. Imam’s view seem convincing because the reader cannot but interpret and understand what he/she reads in accordance with the wealth of related knowledge about the topic under discussion.
Akpama, Egong and Akwa (2005) see reading and comprehension as complementary. In their view, comprehension means understanding and making sense of what is being read or heard. They establish that effective reading comprehension for students in the context area is very vital and that reading comprehension question to be answered by students in the examination help to ascertain their level of understanding at the vocabulary, grammar and content levels. These are important areas in the English language and lack of understanding in any of these areas contributes greatly to the mass failure of students in the English language examinations especially in the reading comprehension tests.
The Concept of Voluntary Reading
Voluntary reading is a type of reading carried out by students on their own. This has to do with the reader's personal choice of the material to be read, including when (time) and where (place) to read it. Voluntary reading is done for information or pleasure. It requires no report or checks on comprehension. Voluntary reading is seen by Krashen (2003) as leisure reading, spare time and recreational reading, while Anderson (2011) conceives it as independent reading and reading outside school. Independent reading involves personal choice, reading widely from a variety of sources and choosing what one reads.
According to Fatimayin (2004), voluntary reading cuts across all categories of literate people - adults, youngsters, men and women. Voluntary reading may also involve all kinds of literature, depending on reader’s interests and purpose. One can read for pleasure, novels, romance, fiction, science fiction, biographical books, poems, plays, magazines and newspapers for pleasure. Anyone reading for pleasure must be literate, that is, such a person must be competent in most of the skills of reading. Oduolowu (2006) states that successful reading requires the recognition of written words and the understanding of their meaning, but that successful reading, especially of difficult material is dependent upon the ability to think like and with its author.
Reading for pleasure, according to Abioye (2010a) is traveling without exerting oneself and the information one picks up from biographic, philosophical and psychological books to a large extent goes into shaping one's thinking and personality. Reading, in its own way, liberates individuals and societies from the shackles of backwardness. According to Fatimayin (2004), voluntary reading also promotes functional literacy which facilitates intellectual development made possible by reading all sorts of books for academic, pleasure and recreational purposes. Through the process of recreational reading, students’ lives, attitude to people, situations and events as well as their morals and communicative competence are enhanced. The richer, better and wider the variety of books and materials one reads, the better ones experience.
Fatimayin (2004:150) lists eight main purpose of reading for English. The last four are reading for pleasure to prove the immense benefits of recreational reading in the lives of students. The eight points are to:
(a) get main ideas in a section, chapter, essay, story or poem,
(b) get detailed information or the important facts supporting the main ideas,
(c) locate a particular fact or to find the answer to a specific question;
(d) gather material for a critical analysis;
(e) share the author's feelings or those of his characters;
(f) find out how to do something;
(g) increase knowledge and broaden horizon;
(h) get pleasure.
It is evident, therefore, that students will benefit tremendously when they develop interest in reading.
Apart from providing opportunity for fun and leisure, reading has a lot to contribute to both personal and national development. Potter (2011) notes the contribution of good literature to children. According to him, reading good literature can promote a sense of security, achievement and a sense of informed appreciation in the child. Reading promotes a deep awareness and builds the child up emotionally and intellectually. It equally educates children unconsciously and pleasurably. According to Fatimayin (2012), the two major broad areas of reading that students must be exposed to in order to promote their interest in reading and enhance their academic performance include intensive and extensive reading.
Intensive reading involves careful and detailed reading for facts. The advantage of this type of reading is that it enables the student to have an understanding of exact and implied meanings of words as well as the relationship of thoughts. Through intensive reading the student has detailed knowledge of the text so as to make critical judgment. Moreover, intensive reading helps to sharpen the learner’s imagination and also increase his/her power of thought as factual and critical questions play a very prominent role in determining whether or not the texts have been understood. Some of the things students learnt are products of reading extensively. According to Oyetunde, (2001), intensive reading gets the students involved in the independent use of the language and encourages free expressions. Through constant practice and exercises in intensive reading, the student might gain good control of the language, become capable of forming accurate and correct concept and develop in an effortless manner, keen perception and ease confidence and fluency in the correct English expression.
On the other hand, Oyetunde (2001) explains extensive reading as that which involves reading many books outside prescribed texts in any topic of interest. Under this approach, the main purpose is to get the gist of the texts and the required information. Extensive reading is also applied to train students to read for pleasure and relaxation. While extensive reading calls for speed and reasonable understanding and retention of materials read, intensive reading demands careful and detailed study of materials for understanding the minutest points. However, intensive reading and extensive reading complement each other.
Just as it is important for students to engage in reading activities, it is equally very important for what is read to be understood, otherwise reading becomes unhelpful. According to Potter (2011), without understanding words become only a series of lifeless symbols which neither communicate nor produce learning, and consequently add nothing useful to the life of the reader. When a learner understands and interacts with written or printed language, the language summarizes the knowledge of the world, fulfills many of his/her affective needs and touches the very fiber of the child's existence. Bdliya (2004) puts it more clearly when he says that the primary goal of reading is meaning. Without meaning there is no reading and to read is to understand.
The Concept of Reading Interest
According to Schraw (2001), among various conceptualizations of interest, the most common is to consider interest according to individual mannerisms. This is because a person’s character has a way of affecting his/her interest and it has both cognitive and affective (emotional) components. Researchers also distinguish between individual and situational interest, with the former targeting personal interest and the latter focusing on creating appropriate environmental settings.
Schraw (2001) views individual interest as a relatively long-lasting habit of re-engaging with particular objects and events. This re-engagement increases knowledge, value, and positive attitude. Students bring to their academic experience a network of individual interests, some similar to and some incompatible with classroom learning. The interest which is similar to classroom learning helps to facilitate learning and consequently boost achievement. Social categories such as gender and race also function as individual interest factors that may affect classroom engagement. Individual interest in a subject may help individuals deal with relevant but boring texts.
Another factor that has been associated with interest, reading and increased learning is attention. Hidi (2001) argues that interest is associated with automatic attention that facilitates learning. More specifically, the researcher argues that such attention frees cognitive resources and leads to more efficient processing and better recall of information. Finally, as interest undoubtedly has a strong emotional component, this aspect may play a critical role on how interest influences learning. The effect of emotions on interest, however, is yet to be fully investigated in educational research.
Situational Interest refers to a psychological state elicited by environmental stimuli (Schraw 2001). This means that the situation at hand provokes a student’s interest and this once triggered, may or may not be maintained. Situational interest generated by texts may sustain motivation even when individuals have no particular interest in the topic. Topic Interest may have an especially significant role in reading and writing in school because students usually have to deal with text on the basis of topics provided by teachers.
Influence of Interest on Reader’s Text Processing and Learning
According to Schraw (2001), the prevalent view in educational research around the 1980s was that proficient readers process and recall text according to its hierarchical structure. This means that readers could recall best more important ideas at the higher levels of text structures. After the 1980s, researchers found that reader’s well informed individual interests and their situational interests (evoked by topics and text segments) contributed to their reading comprehension and learning. Several studies have demonstrated that personal interesting text segments and passages written on high interest topics to students facilitate their comprehension, inference and retention. Thus, interest seems to have a substantial effect on the quality of learning achieved by the students. Also interest leads to more elaborate and deeper processing of texts.
Interest has specific ways of affecting learning. Schraw (2001) notes that interest activates text-processing strategies that result in readers’ engagement in deeper level processing. The connections readers make between information and their prior knowledge or previous experiences increase their interest. When this happens, comprehension is facilitated which subsequently leads to higher academic achievements.
Factors Affecting Students’ Reading Interest
Research indicates that many factors affect the readers’ interest. Such factors include text characteristics (contents of texts), teacher’s qualification, the teaching method applied by the teacher and large classes.
According to Renninger and Ann (2002), text characteristics (contents of texts) contribute immensely to making reading materials more interesting. These researchers indicate that certain concepts like death, violence and sex can be considered absolute interests that almost universally elicit individuals’ interest. Renninger and Ann’s (2002) subsequent research suggests that a variety of text characteristics (in addition to the ones mentioned above) like rape, terror and natural disaster, contribute in a positive way to the interestingness and memorability of written materials. Sources that were found to be sources of situational interest include novelty, surprising information, intensity, visual imagery, ease of comprehension, text cohesion and prior knowledge.
Text-based interest can also be promoted by altering certain aspects of the learning environment such as modifying task presentations, curriculum materials and individuals self–regulation. For example, Schraw (2001) was able to change the interestingness and recall of text materials by assigning for reading various perspectives on the same topic. In addition, he maintains that research has indicated that presenting educational materials in more meaningful, challenging and /or personally relevant contexts can stimulate interest. Modifying the presence of others in the learning environment can also elicit interest. For example, Schraw (2001) records that mono-educational class in physics can contribute to girls’ increased interest in the subject area.
Also, Schraw (2001) records that Carol Sansone and colleagues in a series of studies show that individuals can self-regulate in order to make tasks more interesting and subsequently to develop individual interest in activities initially considered uninteresting. Although these studies did not deal specifically with interest in reading, they indicate that interest in reading could also be increased by similar methods.
Another factor that affects studying readers’ interest is teacher’s competence. The issue of teacher’s competence must be properly addressed so as to ensure adequate provision of competent teachers for the first and second level of our educational system. Such teachers as those who possess the right knowledge and skills and are able to make the learning of reading not only easy and efficient but also able to quickly help the students sort out whatever confusion they may have early enough thereby saving money, time and waste of efforts in our education system. This amounts to good foundation for reading to learn at higher levels and equally guarantee a life long voluntary reading interest. Oyentunde (2001) is of the opinion that teacher – education programmes do not seem to emphasize reading and where it is a part of the syllabus, it gets overlooked or superficially treated because most teacher-trainers themselves lack the necessary background in reading. The consequence is that teachers at all levels, especially those teaching in the primary and secondary schools, do not pay attention to the development of reading skills in students.
Furthermore, the question of teaching reading in schools and the best approach to effectively pass it across to learners are still given scanty attention. This owes to the fact that every effort the teacher makes to employ the best approach boils down to that of testing reading comprehension. This is a major problem because virtually all the secondary school English teachers did not pass through the reading course during their time in the higher institution (Oyebola 2001)). Because of this deficiency, they replace teaching reading with testing reading comprehension which is the one they are familiar with. Thus, the problem of teaching reading becomes more compounded, turning out to be the case of a blind leading the blind when the teachers enter into the classrooms. Oyetunde, (2001) observes that except the departments specializing in language arts, reading is not taught formally in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Omojuwa (2005) notes that teacher’s competence is a key factor in the provision of effective reading instruction for students. Teachers require a sound knowledge of the reading curriculum for that level and the right skills and abilities of how to package and present instruction in the best way to make pupils experience success in learning to read. Unfortunately, there seem to be a steady decline in the quality of English teachers in the secondary schools in Nigeria, a situation which contributes to the diminishing of students reading achievements. While there are still untrained teachers teaching in some schools, most of the trained ones are ill prepared to teach reading. They exhibit deficiencies in essential knowledge, abilities and skills required for reading instruction efficiency in a bilingual/ multilingual context.
Poor teaching methodology contributes seriously to the failure of teaching reading. Reading is not being taught in any meaningful sense in many Nigerian classrooms. For example, Oyetunde (2001) states that beginning reading instructional activities tend to be an exercise of reciting passages from the books with little or no comprehension. Other features of beginning reading instruction that may be observed in the classrooms include memorizing or reciting the letters of the alphabet, letter naming, choral reading after the teacher and some form of phonics (phonemic awareness) instruction. These essentially represent teacher’s approaches to helping children learn to read. Oyetunde (2001) has a clear analysis of the whole situation. As to what teachers do to help students read to learn, according to him, a fair assessment is that most teachers would seem to know what to do to consciously develop reading comprehension skills in students.
Equally, in many so-called reading comprehension lessons, Oyetunde (2001) argues that what goes on is actually a test of reading comprehension. This researcher sites an example of a typical reading comprehension lesson thus: the teacher asks the students to open to a particular page and read for some minutes. Teacher then asks them questions to test their understanding of the passage. The questions asked are mostly literal. And if he decides to treat difficult words, he merely asks students to single out the words they don’t understand; he then proceeds to explain the words to them or asks the class to look them up in the dictionary. This analysis clearly shows that no conscious attempt is ever made to develop in students specific word attack skills such as the use of context cues or structural analysis. The consequence of all these is that many students find reading a difficult or frustrating experience and the very few that manage to learn to read find it a wearisome task. This probably explains why students read to pass their examinations and professionals read only when it is absolutely necessary. Yetunde (2002) describes this tendency as a reluctant reading and learning syndrome and the higher illiteracy syndrome.
Another factor that affects the student’s reading interest is the problem of large classes. In Nigerian schools, large classes constitute a major problem in the allotment of periods in the school time table and it adversely affects the teaching and learning of reading. The geometric progression of student/pupil school enrolment is on the increase without corresponding facility provisions and even staff recruitment Abioye (2010). The resultant effect is large classes which has led to poor class control and management problems in our schools nation-wide. It is as a result of this that it becomes pertinent to identify ways of managing the problem for effective teaching and learning of reading, which will subsequently promote students reading interest.
One of the major challenges encountered in the school system, according to Maduabum (2004), is the problem of large classes orchestrated by the teaming population of Nigerian parents to have at least, a tolerable level of qualitative education for their ward. Ideally, a normal class size should be between 35 and 45 and anything above that falls short of the acceptable standard Abioye (2010). A situation where the population of a given class is 50, 100 or above, the class is said to be large or overpopulated. In some schools, a single class has many segments that run in streams ranging from (a) to (n) or more, and a single teacher is assigned to teach a particular subject to the whole stream. This in turn places a load of over 20 periods a week on the teachers against the average standard of about 12 to 15 periods a week. According to Ekpenyong (2007) class overpopulation is characterized by the following problems: inadequate infrastructure and inadequate/lack of spacious classrooms.
The rapid growth rate in students’ enrolment is not matched with adequate provision of infrastructural facilities like enough and spacious classrooms, teaching aids, related texts and a good and well equipped library. Abioye (2010) observes that due to the large number of student’s enrolment in schools, the available classrooms are not just enough to accommodate them. In most cases, the existing classrooms are not spacious. A situation like that does not give room for all students to bring their lockers to school. The researcher’s observation indicated that the few students that reported early enough during school reopening for a new term are usually the only ones opportune to have their lockers in the classroom. Others hang around inside the classroom, the corridor, and squat or sit by the widow frames. Some share their seats while some sit on lockers. This is not conducive enough for the teaching and learning of reading. This type of seating arrangements make it difficult for students to copy notes, do assignments jot down points and write tests. Ekpenyong (2007) holds that some big boys and big girls in the class intimidate the younger ones to offer their backs as a reading table or writing material. Whichever position the students take to read and write, the crowded atmosphere makes it a nightmare to the students who easily manufacture reasons why they did not come to school with their reading and writing materials or why they did not write their class assignments.
A class such as the one described above easily generates a bigger problem like noise in the classroom and poor class control by the teacher. When students do not sit comfortably, fatigue and boredom easily set in and when these happen, the students will employ all kinds of trick to force the teacher to end the lesson. According to Ekpenyong (2007), when teaching a subject like reading or reading comprehension where the teacher or the students usually read aloud in turns, pronunciation errors and other forms of reading mistakes are usually ridiculed with prolonged noise. They mimic supposedly correct pronunciation as if they were errors. Even when the teacher reads and emphasizes correct pronunciation, the crowd mimics and jeer and such reactions only confuse the weak ones and that makes them loose interest in reading, while only the very brilliant few learn from the exercise. Thus, large classes are one of the major problems of developing students’ interest in reading which subsequently leads to poor reading comprehension achievement.
In addition, the method of teaching reading employed by any teacher greatly affects the interest of the students which consequently determine the students corresponding performance. Many writers have defined method in various ways. According to Azikiwe (2005) methods are the ways educational aims are translated to practice as well as reality. It is in practice that a particular method of teaching could be evaluated to see how educational aims have been realized. In Azikiwe’s (2005:68) own words, “Method means a set of teaching procedures to follow in delivering our lessons.” This researcher further explained that method is also seen as “the overall plan for the orderly presentation of language material, not part of which contradicts, and all of which is based upon the selected approach.
Omojuwa (2005) also defines method as an overall plan for the orderly presentation of language learning materials. She believes that method has a procedure that agrees with a particular approach view or assumptions which have to do with the reading act as well as teaching and learning reading. Omojuwa (2005) holds the same opinion with Azikiwe (2005) that method is not static but changes frequently. The importance of teaching methods in reading achievements cannot be over-emphasized. The major reasons why many students fail to read owes to the fact that the right teaching methods have not been applied, not that they just cannot learn.
In as much as there are many methods available for the teaching of languages, not all of them would be appropriate for the teaching of reading. Azikiwe (2005), notes this when she states that there are many methods from which to choose from when preparing a lesson because some methods could be effective for teaching some aspects of language while ineffective for other. A teacher makes his choice of method based on the nature of content and the teacher’s perceptions about how best his students would learn what he has to teach.
Several arguments have been going on based on the best language teaching method. This led to the birth of many methods of teaching language. Nweke in Azikiwe (2005) lists: Class Method, Self-teaching Methods, Inquiry Methods, Project Method, Activity Method and Induction Method. There are still many more language teaching methods such as the Grammar-translation method (GTM), the Direct or Natural method (DM), the Audio – Lingual Method (ALM), the silent way method (SWM), the total physical response method (TPRM), the Audio Visual method (AVM), the play method (PM) the Oral Method (OM), the Eclectic Way (EW), to mention but few. Webb in Maduabum (2004) is of the view that the controversy over which method is the best has been beside the point, and has obscured the important areas such as the quality of teachers for the tasks, their proficiency or mastery of the language and the realization that the main object of learning a foreign language is to enable learners to use the language in life situations. This means that the effectiveness of teaching and learning of a second language should not be solely attributed to the methods used. Azikiwe (2005), therefore advises that the teacher should adapt or use methods depending on some factors such as the class, availability of resources, the ability of the learners and lastly the preparation of the teacher. Webb in Maduabum (2004) warns that a method will become inefficient if inflexibility is not applied. This is especially the case in Nigerian situation where there is a nagging problem of large classes. This problem requires the type of teaching method that will enable the teacher to reach individual member of the class and which will equally help every student to benefit from each lessons. Thus the best teaching method for teaching reading should wholly depend on the teacher based on his/her understanding of his/her students.
Student’s Attitude towards Reading
Though it can be argued that the government is doing its best to promote the culture of reading in schools and make students change their attitude to reading through the employment of qualified language teachers and the provision of subject–based textbooks, there is no clear-cut evidence to support the argument because most public secondary schools have no functional libraries while most students cannot afford to buy the recommended textbooks for their subjects because of the socio-economic background from which they have come. It can also be argued that there is no facility, programme or activity on ground in Ebonyi State to develop and sustain student’s interest in reading except the state library stocked with old and uninteresting books. This situation is further worsened by the free education policy introduced by the state government as vote–catching strategy without adequate infrastructural support. This has become an excuse by parents who do not have the resources to buy books for their children but are willing and are ever-ready to send such children to public schools.
The reasons for the waning interest of students in reading may not be far from the approaches employed by some teachers of English who attempt to teach reading (Oyetunde 2001). Some teachers who claim to teach reading end up testing reading comprehension thereby getting their students more confused on what reading is all about.
Oyetunde (2001) further observes that materials promoting leisure reading especially for students are now more available in the markets and libraries. The books are now believed to be commercially produced by publishers and are directed at young adolescents. Example of such books as recorded by the researcher is Pacesetters series by Macmillan and Drumbeats published by Longmans. These series have attempted to replace imported popular reading materials such as James Hardly Chase which is loaded with American English and Denis Robins books characterized with archaic English. All these are efforts made to enhance voluntary reading by students.
Given the general concern of the Nigerian public and other stake holders in education about the general decline of the reading interest of students at the various levels of the education system, and the general poor performance of students in external examinations, the need to investigate the relationship between reading interests and reading comprehension achievement of students becomes relevant. Also, since student’s waning interest in reading seem to lead to their performing below expectation in examinations, it cannot be allowed to continue. There is, therefore, need to carry out this study in order to draw the students interest to reading which will consequently lead them to cultivating a positive attitude towards reading generally.
The Place of Reading in the School Curriculum
Reading has not been given its pride of place in subject classification and distribution on the time-table of either primary or secondary schools in Ebonyi State and Nigeria in general. Worse still, the curriculum does not make a clear provision for the place of reading. Fatimayin, (2004) points out that the state of reading and how it is being handled in the secondary schools in Nigeria is deplorable because there are no teachers of reading, no infrastructural facilities such as resource centers, books and the use of inappropriate strategy that can not promote the development of reading by teachers. The combined implication of the situation painted here is that most secondary school students, in the words Oyetunde (2001), do not know how to read basic texts and have negative attitude to reading and subsequently perform poorly in school subjects and public examinations.
The curriculum is the road map in the achievement of the goals of the National Policy on Education (2004) as it serves as a breakdown of the specified goals according to teachable, learnable and measurable units. Reading, which is the most vital area to facilitate the achievement of these goals seem to be totally ignored in the curriculum. Ajibola (2008) informs that each time there is a review of the curriculum, this vital area is still neglected. This may be as a result of what Obanya (2002:203) describes as curriculum overload especially in the language area. According to Obanya (2002),
Curriculum overload results when all the emphasis is on more and more content instead of a thorough re-examination of goals, objectives, methods and materials. It also occurs where there has been very little attempt to integrate closely related content areas and where very little distinction has been made between core and supplementary areas of curriculum content.
A lot of learning materials are packed in the curriculum leaving no room at all for some important materials like reading.
Obanya (2002) also identifies a language curriculum at the basic education level:
• Prescription (or that which is intended);
• Practice (or that which is actually implemented); and
• Outcome (or that which is in the final analysis achieved)
Obanya (2002) maintains that in ideal situations, there would be a perfect match between what is prescribed and what is achieved. In real situations, curriculum discrepancy arises in varying degrees and the mismatch between the intended, the practiced and the achieved curriculum can be quite wide. One school of curriculum theory believes that the achieved curriculum is the effective one – the real curriculum.
The analysis above shows that the English language curriculum is not achieved when reading which is very vital in achieving other educational goals is not given its pride of place. If we base our assessment on the opinion of the theory stated above, then we can feel free to say that the English language curriculum needs a re-appraisal.
Changes in the content of the curriculum has always been focused on the fact that every Nigerian should be able to read and write with understanding, and to apply such skills acquired to his/her daily life and to continue learning using the written word. However, there is a fall in reading ability in Nigerians today as recorded in Okon and Ansa (2005). These researchers further observe that the planners of the Nigerian Curriculum do not recognize that the teacher of reading has to be specially trained and this makes these teachers resort to old methods of teaching comprehension and vocabulary.
Environmental/Cultural Factors and the Students Reading Interest.
According to Araromi (2002), the cultural background of the child plays preponderant role in his interest in reading and his reading ability. Both the home and the school environments stimulate the child’s intellectual ability and also promote his general knowledge. Homes that are equipped with language materials (books, journals, radio and television) prepare the child properly for school learning.
If a child comes from a home where the language of instruction used in schools is not used at home, he is some what inhibited and he cannot be expected to perform as well as his counterpart who comes from a home that is well equipped with language learning materials and who understands the language of instruction being constantly used by his parents at home. We must admit however that there are exceptions. Many secondary school students in Nigeria come from homes that are ill-equipped materially and consequently cannot be expected to perform well in their school subjects, including reading especially, at the early stage.
The environment the child finds himself plays an important role to his reading development. Odey etal (2011) notes disappointedly, that literacy materials such as teaching materials are seriously ignored by teachers. According to Anderson (2011), the preschool years are the crucial ones for children's language and literacy learning; what happens during those years has a lasting effect on all learning. Morrow maintains that in all socioeconomic levels, some children who have access to print and construct meaning from it, learn to read prior to school entrance and that early experiences with language, stories and print are formative. This early exposure goes a long way to determining the child’s interest in reading. Children need access to print, but they also need someone to mediate between their own language and the language of the text. This person, according to Anderson (2011), models reading and helps the child to construct meaning from print. Language acquisition and literacy experiences begin at birth. Students lacking previous experiences with skills such as print awareness, alphabetic principle, and phonemic awareness need supplementary instruction to ensure they do not lag behind their peers. Therefore, elementary school teachers must provide an environment that allows students with disabilities to have access to experiences they may have missed in their preschool years.
However, educators like Morphett & Washbourne in Oduolowu (2006) were of the opinion that children should not be taught to read until they were six and a half years old and performed well on reading readiness tests. Their opinion was based on a study showing that most children who received formal reading instruction when they were that age usually succeed in learning to read. Subsequent researchers like Krashen (2003) and Carr (2010) started looking into children who learned to read without direct instruction before school entrance. They concluded that children learned to read naturally although a great deal of supportive and interactive behaviour conducive to learning was apparent. Overwhelmingly, the studies show that children from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds learn to read early. The Nigerian situation is slightly different. Here many children from poor backgrounds, mostly illiterate homes, do not usually have any contact with any print material in their preschool years. They often start off their primary schooling without reading readiness.
In addition to the contributions made so far by various researchers, Anderson (2011) adds that studies of day-care experiences show that children’s literacy learning depends heavily upon what adult caregivers do. This researcher studies the relationship between the literacy activities discussed, guided or modeled by caregivers and children’s voluntary literacy behaviour. The discovery indicates that few day-care classrooms are designed to encourage literacy through writing centers, lots of books, labels and prints. In centers where high literacy behaviour is observed, however, adults engage children in frequent reading and writing activities. They not only make books available, they make them unavoidable. Their enthusiasm for books and stories becomes contagious. In the centers where low literacy behaviour is observed, caregivers perceive play as a time for social and motor development; they do not model or facilitate literacy activities and therefore, few occur.
Children who learn to read before school entrance are those who are read to, who have someone to answer their questions, and who like to make marks on paper. They are called “paper and pencil” kids. Studies show clearly that children need not come from privileged homes in order to develop interest in reading or to learn to read early, but they must have access to print and have someone to read to them (Mason 2003). This researcher concludes that the way children interact with books in many homes differ from how they are expected to interact with books in school. He equally hold the view that children who come to school with well-developed skills in “taking meaning from books” are clearly at an advantage.
Other researchers like Potter (2011) looks at the acquisition of reading from a developmental point of view. Potter’s idea is that learning to read and write begins very early in life and follows a continuum instead of appearing in distinct stages. He shows that children acquire considerable knowledge about language, reading and writing before coming to school. By the time they are two or three years old, many children can identify signs, labels, and logos they see in their homes and communities. Krashen (2003) equally finds that reading and writing develop concurrently and interrelatedly. This researcher establishes that children learn to read through active engagement and construct their own understanding of how written language works, and that adults help learners by modeling behaviours such as writing a shopping list as well as interact with children around print, reading together from pictures and text.
It is very clear that these researchers did not put into consideration children from illiterate homes and those from very remote villages where they had no encounter whatsoever with print materials before they started school; even when they started school, there was no library both in the school and the community around them. The children they were talking about were not just children from literate homes but children from privileged homes. There is still evidence of children who were not exposed to print materials (Children from illiterate homes) who competed favourably with children with early exposure to print materials.
However, Carr’s (2010) studies of the homes of children who had learned to read early indicate that someone in the home read to the children, answer their questions and encourage them to write. The researcher counts literacy events (which they see as any encounter in which the child is involved in reading, writing, or engaging with print), and their finding is that prior to school entrance, some children have hundreds of literacy events, whereas others have few or none. The amount of experience that five year-old children have with books, according to these researchers, is directly related to their reading interest and reading comprehension at seven and eleven years old. Children who engage in hundreds of literacy events enter school understanding more about the world than children with minimal literacy events; they excel at the end of elementary school. They equally hold the view that six years of schooling could not make up for the loss children suffered by not engaging in literary events in their early lives.
The views of these researchers show that academic achievement is closely related to early print exposure. However, it is possible for a gifted child without any prior print exposure to excel together with his other counterparts with early print exposure.
A print rich environment is a tremendous asset to enhance the child’s interest in reading and reading ability. The home should be the place where children should first be exposed to books before the child starts school. Some of the children from poor homes do not have the advantage of early access to print rich environment until they start school. Even when they start school, the money may not be available to buy all the necessary books for reading. This means that poverty plays a hindering role to the child’s reading interest. Potter (2011) rightly pointed out that there are proportionally many more reading failures among children who come from poor homes than there are among their more affluent age peers. The poor illiterate home may not rank the purchase of books high as against the purchase of food. More so, the illiterate parents will not afford to read story books to their children at bedtime. That may explain why Potter (2011) notes that illiteracy and poverty are contributory factors to the students’ waning interest in reading and poor reading habits.
Equally, government has not measured up to standard in the provision of books in school libraries. Saturday Sun (2011) notes that some schools do not have libraries at all and the available ones are stuffed with old and uninteresting books. Good libraries should be up to date with current materials including daily newspapers, magazines and novels to cover the various reading interests of the child. Almost all the primary schools especially in the rural areas do not have libraries. Even when the whole world is information crazy, evident in the proliferation of computers and internet facilities, Nigeria seems not to be interested otherwise every school (both primary and secondary) should have a library which must be filled with current books, computers and internet facilities. This further accounts for our backwardness or slow developmental pace because reading widens ones horizon. Thus the poor print-rich environment further alienates the child from reading which consequently affects reading comprehension achievement.
Gender and Reading Interest
In the African setting, gender has a way of affecting almost everything – academic and circular life – reading therefore is not an exception. According to Oyebola (2004) gender has a way of being influenced by stereotypes. This researcher defines stereotype as a person or thing seeming to conform to a heavily accepted type. Stereotyping is culturally based. Every culture has a way of influencing the behaviour of men/boys and women/girls (Oyebola 2004). This stereotyping is consequently carried over to the school system where certain subjects are usually seen as masculine. For example, (Oyebola 2004) reveals that science, Technology and Mathematics are usually dominated by men while other areas like Home Economics, Literature, Secretarial Studies, etc, are usually perceived as ‘feminine’.
In the first chapter of Smith’s book Reading don’t fix no Chevys (2002: 10 – 20) is a quick review of a major findings of research related to boys and reading:
• Boys do not comprehend narrative (fiction) as well as girls.
• Boys have much less interest in leisure reading than girls.
• Boys are more inclined to read magazines as well as newspaper articles.
• Boys are more inclined to read comic books and graphics novels than girls
• Boys like to read about hobbies, sports and things they do or want to do.
• Boys tend to enjoy escapism and humour.
• Some groups of boys are passionate about science fiction or fantasy.
• The appearance of a book and cover is important to boys.
• Few boys entering school call themselves “non-readers” but by high school, over half do.
• Boys tend to think they are bad readers.
• If reading is perceived as feminized, then boys will go to great lengths to avoid it.
Smith (2002) observes that most young adult sections in public libraries are filled with fiction with very little recreational non – fiction. If there is recreational non-fiction, it is more than likely to be self-help, health – related, about teen issues or pop star biographies. There might be magazines, but the chances are they are aimed more at girls than boys. Furthermore, comic books are more than likely not to be there, and graphic novels, if collected, are not features. According to Smith (2002), there is probably not a newspaper lying around. Smith in his book maintains that secondary school libraries, which do not highlight young adult materials to be read outside the curriculum, offer boys just as few options. Thus, for most boys finding something to read in a library is like running an obstacle race.
Some writers also observe that the language, characterization and illustrations in textbooks and general reading materials produced in Nigeria reflect a gender bias (Oyebola 2004). Areo in Oyebola (2004) observe that book contents show women in a few stereotyped, restricted occupations and careers, say, nursing, secretarial duties, receptionist roles, modeling, etc, while men are shown as architects, doctors, estate agents, etc.
Moreover, O'Reilly and McNamara (2007) explore whether there were any gender-differences on measures of cognitive ability and science achievement among 1,651 male and female high school students. They found that males scored higher than females on measures of science knowledge, state science test, and passage comprehension.
Bügel and Buunk (2006) examine the impact of passage topic on gender differences in FL reading comprehension using 2,980 high school students in the Netherlands. They selected a total of 11 different English reading passages including five texts with a ‘male’ topic and six texts with a ‘female’ topic. Males scored significantly better on the multiple choice comprehension items for essays about laser thermometers, volcanoes, cars, and football players. Females achieved significantly higher scores on the comprehension tests for essays on text topics such as midwives, a sad story, and a housewife’s dilemma. Bügel and Buunk (2006) included a gender-neutral passage in their FL study, and they found that males performed significantly better than females on the gender-neutral text. This finding contrasts with previous research which suggests that females are better foreign language learners than male. Bügel and Buunk (2006) concluded that differences between the sexes in prior knowledge contribute to gender differences in foreign language reading comprehension.
In addition to Smith’s (2002) research findings on boy’s readership, Barbieri (2005) finds that seventh grade girls read for personal reasons: to clarify their beliefs and to discover that they are not alone. Like Atwell (2007), she finds that time, choice and response are necessary parts of a literacy programme if students are to develop enthusiasm for reading. Psychologists Brown and Gilliam’s (2002) finding show that girls’ sense of identity is deeply rooted in their perceptions of relationships, which they see as a way of knowing and opening between self and others that create a channel for discovery – an avenue for knowledge. In the views of Brown and Gillam, girls read to explore relationships, it is central to their reading. These researchers equally find that girls read to search for answers to personal problems that bother them and that students want the freedom to choose the books they read, to talk with peers about the books and to respond to reading in ways they choose.
Reading Comprehension at Different Levels
There are different levels of reading comprehension that students should be exposed to. These levels include the literal level, inferential level and the critical level. It is also at these levels that the questions to be set in the comprehension tests should be based.
At the literal level of reading comprehension, the reader is required to recall information that is text explicit. This requires a little thinking on the part of the reader since the facts are clearly stated in the text. According to Andzayi & Umolu (2004), the type of questions asked to test comprehension at the literal level are the simplest. Such questions are indicated by such words as who, what, when, where and how.
The ability to make inferences is very important to comprehension. Students should be asked questions that would enable them to read between and beyond the lines to comprehend most texts. Oyetunde (2002) explains that virtually all texts require students to go beyond that which is explicitly stated because texts are not, nor can they be, fully explicit.
Inferential comprehension calls for the exercise of two basic abilities: ability to infer relationships, that is, to connect two or more ideas that are textually implicit, and the ability to bring one’s background experience or world knowledge to bear on the content of one’s reading. Andzay & Umolu (2004) holds that questions to test comprehension at the inferential level require judgment and drawing conclusion. In a passage as this: “Ngozi’s sister was set to go to school. Suddenly, she ran into the room and decided to get a waterproof bag and an umbrella…” The questions that may follow such a passage, for example, include such questions as “What do you think Ngozi’s sister observed about the whether?” Another passage may pose this type of question: “What do you think made the writer conclude that all politicians are liars?”
Reading comprehension at the critical level requires the reader to make a critical appraisal and analysis of what he has read. By gaining a deeper understanding of what has been read, the reader is better placed to analyze the material’s significance. After reading, the reader is able to make his own personal judgment on the information retained in the course of reading. According to Araromi (2002), to evaluate the reading comprehension of the students in this area, the students are given a passage to read and the aim would be solely to know how they follow the writer’s line of thought critically. A question under this level may sound like this: What does the writer mean by “… The so called democratic leaders are gradually driving Nigeria into an autocratic system of government?" When the students are able to answer the questions under this level correctly, then comprehension at the critical level has taken place. Analysis of the past WASSCE examinations will reveal whether the questions covered these levels of reading.
Text Characteristics and Text readability
Text characteristic is the total makeup of a text to determine its readability. This has to do with the grammatical complexity, sentence construction, word spacing and characterization. The characteristics of every text to a large extent determine the readability. The extent a text succeeds in establishing an unhindered communication between the reader and the author is known as its readability. According to Andzayi (2002), two factors are involved in the readability of a text: the reader factor and the print factor. The reader factor is the simplicity or difficulty of any text which is under the control of the reader while the print factor is determined by everything that has to do with the text itself.
The first important reader factor is background knowledge. This relates to the familiarity of the topic to the reader. Another important aspect of background knowledge is the reader’s facility in the language of communication. For example, legal documents are very difficult to comprehend by readers outside the legal profession, as the terminology and language structure used are not familiar.
The reader’s purpose for reading is also an important factor in readability. The reader’s purpose for reading affects his motivation, which is his willingness to persevere even when the reading task may be difficult. When a reader has a clearly defined purpose for reading, he is more likely to direct his focus towards gaining specific information. Andzyi (2002) holds that, for maximum comprehension to take place, a reader’s purpose for reading must be to use information gained for something personally meaningful.
Another important element in readability is reader interest. It is common knowledge that we do quite well at getting information from materials on a topic we are especially interested in. Hidi (2001) asserts that a strong interest often compensates for a lack of reading ability or for text difficulty.
A final but critical reader factor is the readers’ own concept of the reading process itself. If reading is perceived as the act of pronouncing words to somebody or to oneself, then comprehension may suffer. Since in such a situation, the reader is not looking for ideas; he is not likely to find any. On the other hand, a reader who understands reading to be an active interaction between the author and himself is more likely to comprehend effectively.
Print factors which affect readability include physical characteristics of the text such as size and quality of print, number of illustrations and diagrams, etc. Overcrowding of words on a page also tends to inhibit readability. On the other hand, wide margins and frequent use of bold print titles and subtitles, attractive layout, and use of colours improves the readability of the material. Andzy (2002) indicates that margin notes, showing main points, also improve the readability of difficult textbook materials.
The most important factors are the responsibility of the writer. Two key factors which are controlled by the author are vocabulary load and grammatical complexity. Readability is impaired when a large proportion of the vocabulary in a text is likely to be unfamiliar to a reader.
Another print factor which is largely controlled by the author is grammatical complexity. Long and complex sentences increase the readers’ processing load. According to Andzyi (2002) easy materials generally contain short and simple sentences with few prepositional phrases and clauses. Analysis of the past questions of WASSCE on comprehension passages will reveal the simplicity or the complexity of the passages as it affects the students’ achievement.
Readability formulas are used to determine the simplicity or difficulty of any text to find out if it is suitable for the level of students it is meant for. Some texts which have been prescribed for school use for various classes have been found to be above the readability level of the students for which they were assigned. This is revealed in the findings made by researchers. For example, Oyetunde (2002) investigates the ability of Junior Secondary School students to read a selection from a science text book meant for their class level. The result indicates that 75% of the students’ show that the passage was on the frustration levels (the lowest of the three performance level), 21% was on instructional level, while only 5% was on the independent level. This means that only 5% of the students could be expected to read the text profitably on their own. Twenty one percent would need teacher’s assistance. The remaining 75% for whom the text was on frustration level, the students would not be able to make sense of the text at all.
A textbook with a mean readability level of 5 should be much easier to read than one with a mean readability of 10. If the two books contain basically the same content, the book with the lower readability level would be preferred since it would be suitable for more students. The question is: are the comprehension passage tests set in WASSCE at the readability level of the students?
There are about three readability formulas that can be used to determine the readability level of any text. They are: the Fry Readability Graph, the Fog Readability Index, the SMOG Readability Index and then the Cloze Procedure which is not a readability formula but it has been found to be a very useful tool for assessing text readability. According to Andzayi (2002), this cloze procedure should be seen as an alternative to a readability formula because it gives an indication of how students will actually perform with course materials.
Andzayi (2002) asserts that the readability formula which should be of interest to the Nigerian teacher is the Fry Readability Formula which was specifically designed for use in English speaking African countries. Like most other readability formulas, it expresses readability levels in class levels, indicating approximately the level of schooling required by the reader in order to comprehend the material easily.
The literatures reviewed under this heading indicate that the high failure rate of students in English language especially in comprehension passage tests, as was reported in the WASSCE Chief Examiner’s Reports (2011) may not necessarily be reader factor but text characteristic-based factor or a combination of the two. Thus, the texts to be used for comprehension passage tests need to be properly evaluated not only for content but also for their ability to communicate information to readers. Also the readability level of the passage has to be determined to ascertain its suitability to the level of the students.
Analysis of WASSCE Comprehension Questions and Text Characteristics of Comprehension Passages
The Chief Examiner's Reports of the West African Secondary School Certificate (2011) indicate that there has been a yearly poor performance of senior secondary school students in external examinations in Nigeria recorded in almost all subjects especially, the English Language. The poor performances may be based on several factors. This makes it necessary to take a critical appraisal of WASSCE reading comprehension passages for three years (2005 to 2007) and the text characteristics to see whether they covered the different levels of reading comprehension explained earlier and whether the texts are at the readability level of the students.
The WASSCE Chief Examiner’s Reports (2005) further indicates that the general performances of candidates in almost all the subjects, especially in the English Language in the year 2005 were not impressive. The reports indicate that in 2005, 25.63% of students who sat for May/June WASSCE had credit pass in English language while 36.93% failed out-rightly. The main weaknesses observed in the scripts of the candidates, according to the reports, had to do with insufficient exposure to the rudiments of the English Language. The reports further indicated that the students exhibited lack of familiarity with the required formats of the skills of writing. They also had the problem of construction of loose sentences, transliteration from mother tongues and abuse of basic rules of grammar. Their performances in reading comprehension tests were also said to be very poor.
The account of this reports show that the mass failure was student based not text factor. There was no mention of anything to suggest text-based problems. This report makes it necessary for the comprehension passages for the year 2005 to be examined to ascertain whether the problem of poor performances was actually student oriented or text induced.
Section B: Comprehension (WASSCE May/June 2005)
6. Read the following passage carefully and answer the question on it.
The chalkboard is by far the commonest teaching aid used at virtually all levels of education from the nursery to the university. It is the most enduring teaching aid and perhaps will be the most difficult to replace. In the advanced countries of the world, it is being threatened by the overhead projector. However, the overhead projector requires constant supply of electricity - which is one reason we cannot rely on it yet. The chalkboard used to be black, which was. why the name "blackboard" stuck for ages; but today, there are boards of various colours: blue, green, even white.
Now, most chalkboards are made of wood nailed to the wall, instead of the concrete board made of cement and fine sand that was more common, some are also made of metal. The chalkboard has the advantages of low cost, availability and ease of maintenance, usually involving mere cleaning and occasional retouching of the surface with the renovator. However, if the board is metal, the felt marker should be protected against drying by replacing the cap when it is not in use. The major drawback in the use of the chalkboard is that the information on it can only be temporary. If there is only one board for the class, it is usually impossible to leave the information there for more than a few hours, since other teachers would want to use it.
It is not easy to draw complex diagrams snowing minute details, such as parts of the body and contours, unless one is a good artist. Where one has succeeded with laborious illustrations, using different colours, it could be painful when the board has to be cleaned by the next teacher. However, there are nowadays various innovations, including foldable boards made of plywood, which allow teachers more room to leave their materials for longer periods.
Finally, it is a great disadvantage that during the course of teaching, more time is spent writing on the board than when one is using the overhead projector. So, in all, more time is needed for any lesson when one uses the board rather than the overhead projector.
(a) Why does the writer use the word chalkboard rather than blackboard most of the time?
(b) Mention two different types of chalkboard that have been in use. (c) Mention two disadvantages of the chalkboard.
(d) Why should the cap of the felt pen be re placed when the pen is not in use?
(e) “The major drawback in the use of the chalkboard…”
(i) What grammatical name is given to the expression as it is used in the passage?
(ii) What is its Function?
(f)’ ...it is being threatened by the overhead projector...”
(i) What figure of speech is used in this expression?
(ii) What does it mean?
(g) For each of the following words, find another word or phrase which means the same and which can replace it as it used in the passage:
(i) virtually (ii) constant (iii) various (iv) temporary (v) laborious (vi)Room
Using Fry’s Readability Index, this passage is in the readability level of 7 which is within the readability level of the students. The analysis of the questions asked indicate that question (a) covered the critical level of reading comprehension, question (b), (c), (d) covered the literal level while (e) covered the critical level. There was no question to cover the inferential level of reading comprehension. This may have robbed the students that do well in this area the opportunity of biffing up their marks from that angle. This may have equally contributed to the mass failure recorded that year.
Passage 2 (WASSCE May/June 2005)
7. Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions on it.
Dele groaned and got out of bed. There was no clock on the mantelpiece and the room was still dark, but he knew that he was already late for work, probably by up to an hour. He was a commercial bus driver and had to get started as early as 5.00 a.m. and go almost non-stop until about 9.00 p.m. to be able to make the daily returns that the bus owner demanded.
On the previous day, he had attended an all-night party - a late uncle's burial ceremony - where he had drunk himself almost senseless before crawling home on his face and hurried off to work, but not before carefully fastening on his upper left arm the amulet he had always worn for protection against accident. A similar amulet hung concealed under the steering column of his bus. On his way, still feeling groggy, he caught his left toe against a stump and had some misgiving. It was a bad sign, and he was supposed to go back home and then set out again. But there was no time for that now, so he hurried on. At the bus station, Dele quickly loaded his bus and sped off without any of the necessary checks on the vehicle. He had to make up for lost time. It was the rush hour, so the bus was overloaded as it often was, with many passengers hanging on to the doors. The tyres were threadbare, the brakes were faulty and the road was wet, but, still feeling a little sleepy, Dele sped on. Many passengers protested about his reckless driving, but he would not listen. After all, didn't he have protection against accident?
As the vehicle took the last turn before its destination, Dele saw a broken-down truck blocking his side of the road, Under normal circumstances, he could have brought the bus safely to a halt, but the circumstances were far from normal. The careening bus hit the parked vehicle, swerved wildly across the road and plunged into a ditch.
Dele's surprise before he sank into oblivion was the failure of his supposed protective amulets.
(a) Why did Dele wake up late?
(b) “...he caught his left tow against a stump and had some misgiving”. What does this tell us about Dele?
(c) Give two reasons why Dele drove recklessly.
(d) Why was Dele unable to stop his faulty vehicle?
(e) What was Dele's condition after the accident?
(f) After all didn't he have protection against accident? What literary device is used in this expression?
(g) ...wildly across the road...
(i) What is the grammatical name given to the expression as it is used in the passage?
(ii) What is its function?
(h) For each of the following words, find another word or phrase which means the same and which can replace it as it is used in the passage:
(i) probably (ii) returns (iii) groggy (iv) misgiving (v) threadbare (vi) reckless.
According to Fry’s Readability Index, the text characteristics of this second passages for WASSCE 2005 is at the level of the students and the questions asked this time covered the literal, inferential and critical levels of reading comprehension. This goes to strengthen the study of Fatimayin (2012) that students’ failure hinges on the fact that they do not read.
In 2006, the Chief Examiner’s Reports on WASSCE (2006) show that there was a little improvement in some subjects including the English Language compared to the previous year. In 2006, 32.48% got credit pass in English language while 29.65% failed. Among the areas the students performed poorly were the reading comprehension tests. In the reading comprehension tests, the reports indicate that the students did not perform well in those questions whose answers were identifiable from the two passages set. The main problem was that many of them copied out what looked like answers from the passages when they were supposed to use their own words to present the answers. According to the reports, in the case of replacement of words, some candidates failed to put their options back into the context to see whether or not they fit perfectly into the text. These problems identified still points to the fact that students still have reading problems which needs to be seriously tackled. The following passages were the comprehension passage test for WASSCE (May/June 2006) English language examinations.
Section B: Comprehension (WASSCE May/June 2006)
6. Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions on it.
Late one night Mr. Chinedu Okoro was returning to his school on the outskirts of the hill station of Owerri. He had been teaching in this school for many years. A bachelor, he usually strolled into the town in the evening, returning after dark, when he would take a short cut through a pine forest. Whenever there was strong wind, the pine trees made moaning, eerie sounds that kept most people to the main road. But Mr. Chinedu Okoro was not a nervous or imaginative man.
He carried a torch on this particular night and its pale gleam - the batteries were running down - moved fitfully over the narrow forest path. When its flickering light fell on the figure of a boy who was sitting alone on a rock. Mr. Chinedu Okoro stopped. -Boys were not supposed to be out of school after 7 p.m., and it was now well past nine.
"What are you doing out here, boy?" asked Mr. Chinedu Okoro sharply, moving closer so that he could recognize the miscreant. But as he approached the boy, he sensed that something was wrong. The boy appeared to be crying. His head hung down, he held his face in his hand and his body shook convulsively. It was a strange soundless weeping, and Mr. Chinedu Okoro felt quite uneasy.
"Well, what's the matter?" he asked, his anger giving way to concern. "What are you crying for?" The boy would not answer or look up. His body continued to be rocked with silent sobbing. "Come on, boy, you shouldn't be out here at this hour. Tell me the trouble. Look up," The boy looked up. He took his hands from his face and looked up at his teacher. The light from Mr. Chinedu Okoro's torch fell on the boy's face, if it could be called a face.
He had no eyes, ears, nose or mouth. It was just a round smooth head - with a school cap on top of it, and that's where the story should have ended, as indeed it has for several people who have had similar experiences and dropped dead of unexplainable heart attack. But for Mr. Chinedu Okoro, it did not end here.
The torch fell from his trembling hand. He turned and scrambled down the path, running blindly through the trees and calling for help. He was still running towards the school building when he saw a lantern swinging in the middle of the path. Mr. Chinedu Okoro had never before been so pleased to see the night watchman. He stumbled up to the watchman, gasping for breath and speaking incoherently. "What is it, Sahib?" asked the watchman. "Has there been an accident? Why are you running?"
"I saw something - something horrible - a boy weeping in the forest, and he had no face!" "No face, Sahib?" "No eyes, nose, mouth, nothing!" "Do you mean it was like this, Sahib?" asked the watchman and raised the lamp to his own face. The watchman had no eyes, no ears, no features at all, not even an eyebrow. The wind blew the light out, and Mr. Chinedu Okoro had his heart attack...
(a) Why did Mr Chinedu Okoro take the pine forest route to his school?
(b) What did Mr. Chinedu Okoro think when he first saw the 'boy'?
(c) What was the first indication to Mr. Chinedu Okoro that all was not well?
(d) What did the night watchman turn out to be?
(e) Mr. Chinedu Okoro had never before been so pleased to see the night watchman. What is ironical about this sentence in the light of the rest of the story?
(f) "Do you mean it was like this, Sahib?" What does "this" refer to?
(g)"... who have had similar experiences and dropped dead of unexplainable heart attack." (i) What grammatical name is given to this expression as it is used in the passage? (ii) What is its function?
(h) For each of the following words, find another word or phrase which means the same and which can replace it as it is used in the passage: (i) miscreant (ii) sensed (iii) concern (iv) rocked (v) scrambled.
This passage also is at the readability of 6 which means that it is a little easier than the 2005 passages. It is also an interesting passage as the story heightens tension and raises curiosity. More so, the questions adequately covered the three levels of reading comprehension. This may account to the improved success of the students this year.
Passage 2 (WASSCE May/June 2006)
7. Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions on it.
Children today are being hurried through childhood, rushed into taking on adult tasks at a very early age. Granted that the effects are not always so dramatic or so tragic, they can be profound and long lasting. Parents are understandably eager to see their children succeed. When that eagerness turns into anxiety, parents may overload their children pushing them too hard too soon. For instance, it is becoming increasingly common for parents to enroll young children in after-school activities. Often, special tutoring is added.
Of course, it is not wrong to encourage a child's talents or interests. There is a danger of excess when some children seem to have as many pressures as harried adults do. Before their children are born, parents are already enrolling them in preschool, hoping to improve their prospects of success. In some countries, children are assessed for reading and Mathematics skills before they are six years old. Such practices have raised concern about emotional damage. Many parents seem to think it normal, even advisable, to teach their children that winning is everything.
Some parents work extremely hard to provide every possible material comfort for the children, believing that they are working to ensure their children's happiness - but they may well be doing the opposite. Often, more than a few children raised this way are involved in drinking, drugs and sullen rebellious behaviour as many fume with resentment because they feel neglected. The children often pay a high price. Although they may have many material luxuries, they lack the most essential ingredients of a good childhood: parental attention and love. Without guidance, discipline and direction they face adult questions too soon, with little or no preparation. They will likely obtain their own answers from peers or TV or movie characters. The results often bring childhood to an abrupt, even tragic end. Without a doubt, rushing children through childhood is a dangerous practice that should be avoided.
(a) Why do parents rush their children through childhood?
(b) Give two examples of how parents rush their children through childhood.
(c) State two sad effects of bringing up children in extreme luxury.
(d) Why do children raised in luxury become angry?
(e) What is ironical about parent’s efforts to make their children happy?
(f) "the children often pay a high price". What is the meaning of this expression?
(g) "Although they may have many material luxuries…"
(i) What grammatical name is given to this expression as it is used in the passage?
(ii) What is its function?
(h) For each of the following words, find another word or phrase which means the same and which can replace it as it is used in the passage:
(i) effects (ii) eager (iii) prospects (iv) Raised (v) essential (vi) resentment.
In the same vein, the passage indicates that the text characteristics of the second passage for WASSCE (2006) as well as the readability index (7) are at the level of the students and the questions asked also covered the literal, inferential and critical levels of reading comprehension. The students ought to have performed better than what was recorded. In this case, the failure of the students here may be attributed to the student oriented problems. This is goes to strengthen the study of Okon & and Ansa (2005) that students do not read as they ought to.The performance of the students in the 2007 WASSCE was recorded poor by the Chief Examiner’s Reports. The report indicated that 30.32% had credit pass in English language while 30.25% failed. Among the areas the students performed poorly in the English Language was in the comprehension passage tests. The students were presenting their answers in meaningless sentences instead of phrases. Equally, despite the fact that the passages presented for the comprehension test were quite interesting, the students seemed not to understand it judging from the out-of-context answers they gave. These poor performances show that the students are still having reading comprehension problems.
Section B: Comprehension (WASSCE May/June 2007)
6. Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions on it.
Mr. Cissey pulled on his trousers very hurriedly and dragged himself to the verandah. He was bent on getting to his office before his workers. The previous day, he had reprimanded his staff for regularly coming to work late, and threatened to give the sack to any of them who would repeat the offence. Today, he must get to work in time not only to serve as a role model but also to show that he really meant what he had said.
He managed to squeeze himself behind the wheel of his car which was at least two sizes too small to accommodate his paunch. He inserted the ignition key and turned it but the car would not start; the engine just grumbled. On the second attempt, it coughed and finally roared to life on the third. It moved grudgingly to the gate and stopped. Cissey immediately realised that he would be caught in a traffic jam. It was evident that he would arrive at his workplace late.
For about two hours, Cissey just sat, glued to his seat, fuming. Hard as he tried to control his temper, the misbehaviour of other drivers once prompted him to bawl at them. Then suddenly, after the interminable wait, the street cleared and Cissey sped off. It was almost three hours after leaving home that he got to his workplace. The staff was already there and when he entered the building he found his secretary and the clerical staff apparently immersed in their assignments, with an air of dutifulness. One look at their boss warned them that they had better keep quiet to save their skin. But as soon as he closed the door to his office he heard soft voices mumbling words he could not understand. Worst of all, he heard subdued laughter from his secretary.
Cissey immediately shot out of the chair ready to vent his spleen on these underlings but suddenly plopped back into his seat. On second thoughts, he changed his mind. How could he castigate them for what they had not caused?
(a) Why was Mr. Cissey in a hurry to get to his office?
(b) What two indications are there in the passage that Mr Cissey was a huge man?
(c) How did Mr Cissey express his anger while caught in the traffic?
(d) Why did Mr Cissey become angry with his staff?
(e)What was the attitude of the staff towards their boss?
(f) ...when he entered the building ... (i) What grammatical name is given to this expression as it is used in the passage? (ii) What is its function?
(g) How could he castigate them for what they had not caused? What literary device is used in the expression above?
(h) What is meant by the expression vent his spleen in the last paragraph? For each of the following words, find another word or phrase which means the same and which can replace it as it is used in the passage:
(i) reprimanded (ii) evident (iii) prompted (iv) interminable (v) immersed (vi) subdued.
Passage 2 (WASSCE May/June 2007)
7. Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions on it.
Whenever I ask myself the question why I have not left this country for good, many answers rush to my mind, each striving to be-recognized as being the most convincing. I am reminded of the popular slogan that this country belongs to us, for which reason every one of us must join hands in trying to salvage it. I try to dismiss the argument by reasoning that it is foolhardy attempting to lend a helping hand where one's services are apparently not required. Then 1 am reminded that if I leave the country in a hurry just because of our political instability and economic hardship, my commitments to my nuclear family and extended family at home will suffer. I reply by saying that as soon as I get settled abroad, 1 would arrange for my family to Join me. Other financial problems at home would be taken care of by my regular remittances. Would I then never think of going back home in future? Not until the situation in the country improved considerably, 1 would answer. And who do I expect to carry on with the task of national rehabilitation when the likes of me are all out of the country? Those who messed up the country in the first place, 1 would argue. And so on. This self-examination has been going on for the last ten years or so; meanwhile, I am yet to leave the country.
When I wonder how many people think' as I do, I realize that we must" be very few. Indeed, not many have the slightest opportunity of absconding from the country; they do not have the place to run to, nor do they have the means of escape. Even among the elite who consider this possibility, the uncertainty of a future outside their fatherland intimidates them. And so we all end up staying and grumbling.
(a) Why would the writer like to leave his country?
(b) Why does the writer believe that he should not join in salvaging his country?'
(c) What would make the writer return to- his country?
(d) Who does the writer suggest should carry on the task of national
(e) Give two reasons why it has not been easy for him and others to leave the country.
(f) “...many answers rush to my mind…” What figure of speech is used in this expression?
(g) “...the uncertainty of a future outside their fatherland ...”
(i) What grammatical name is given, to this expression as it is used in the passage?
(ii) What is its function?
(h) For each of the following words or phrase, find another word or phrase which means the same and which can replace it as it is used in the passage: (i) for good; (ii) slogan; (iii) foolhardy; (iv) commitments; (v) absconding.
The text characteristics of the two passages for WASSCE (2007) are clear and both are at the readability level of 7 which falls within the level of the students. All the questions asked covered both the literal, inferential and critical levels of reading comprehension. This further shows that there was no problem with the comprehension passages. This agrees with Fatimayin (2012) and Okon & Ansa (2005) that the students’ failure hinges on the fact that they do not read.
The Relationship between Reading and Students Academic Achievement
Researchers have continued to provide evidence of the relationship of reading proficiency to academic achievement. For instance, A study by Brantmeier (2003) of the effects of voluntary reading on Japanese University Students proficiency in English, found that students who reported reading more English books voluntarily experienced significantly greater improvement in reading more English books, experienced significantly greater improvement in reading ability and vocabulary knowledge than those who reported reading less as measured by pre-and post – test. The students also reported that the voluntary reading programme helped them to improve on their English.
In addition to its cognitive benefits, voluntary reading helps to develop a positive attitude among students towards reading in the second language; it also increases their motivation to read in the second language Koda (2005) indicates that this is because the more one reads, the easier it becomes.
Indeed, Tsang (2006), in comparing the effects of three programmes, the one that included extensive voluntary reading was found to be significantly effective overall. In the area of content and language use, the extensive voluntary programme was also the only one that was found to be significantly effective.
One of the best ways to help students increase their language proficiency is to encourage them to read voluntarily and extensively Krashen (2005) conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of forty-one studies on in-school free reading, sustained silent reading and selected reading programmes. In thirty-eight of forty one studies, students who engaged in voluntary reading did as well or better on tests of reading comprehension than students who were given direct instruction in reading. Krashen’s meta-analysis showed that in-school voluntary reading programmes are related to vocabulary development, knowledge of grammar, writing and oral language facility, and that correlations between voluntary reading and scores on literary proficiency tests are not always highly significant statistically; however, they are consistent and show that free voluntary reading does make a difference. Krashen (2005) also examined the results of out-of-school studies in which participants gave self reports of their free voluntary reading. The result of these studies confirm the in-school studies: more voluntary reading results in better reading comprehension and related literacy skills.
The same perception towards voluntary reading was held by the students studied by McQuittan (2004), in which he overwhelmingly found voluntarily reading to be not only more pleasurable but also more beneficial for language acquisition than instruction in grammar.
Students who read independently become better readers, score higher on achievement tests in all subject areas and have greater content knowledge than those who do not (Stanovich and Cunningham 2003). This owes to the fact that the understanding of a text can be hindered or facilitated by one’s knowledge of vocabulary items which results in one’s ability or inability to sustain meaning and understanding through complex sentences, discern meaning from figures of speech, interpret idioms and figurative use of words.
Day, Omur and Hiramatsu (2001) in their study of 191 high-school and 397 University Japanese English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students engaged students in sustained silent reading for pleasure. At the end of the treatment, they found that these students scored significantly higher than the control group in correcting and identifying the meanings of target vocabulary items.
In a repeated study conducted in Singapore using a similar design and involving over 500 students from Grades 11 to 3, Elley (2001) finds the same to be true. After three years of following the Reading Acquisition and Language Programme (REALP), the students made significantly more gains in vocabulary and other language skills than the control groups. In reviewing the Singapore and Fiji studies, Elly asserts that children who are exposed to an extensive range of interesting and illustrated storybooks, who are encouraged to read on their own and share them with other children are consistently found to learn the target language more quickly. Not only did it lead them to improvement in reading, writing and language use, it also lead to a positive attitude towards reading, which would help to increase students’ language proficiency in the long term. He added that they appeared to learn the language incidentally when immersed in a meaningful text.
However, the most convincing evidence for the benefits of voluntary reading comes from that which has come to be known as the “book flood” studies (Elly & Mangubhai 2003), which looks at the effect of voluntary reading on the English language proficiency of Fiji elementary school children. These studies, which studies from about a hundred to several thousand students, and for a period of about one to about three years, provide evidence of the remarkable increase made by these students on measures of language use (which the researcher specified as oral language, reading comprehension and writing), language knowledge (also included word recognition, vocabulary knowledge and grammar), as well as academic performance (as measures by the examinations used across the Fiji elementary reading interest established in the primary school level). This stand as a sure foundation for higher level reading in the secondary school as well with a corresponding better performance in English language and other subjects.
Greaney(2007) reveals that there is a high positive relationship between achievement in English language and other school subjects and by the same token attributed declining performance of students in examinations to low proficiency in English language. This researcher also noted that the amount of free reading done outside of school has consistently been found to relate to growth in vocabulary, reading comprehension, verbal fluency and general information.
Theories of Learning
There are many learning theories propounded to help teachers deliver their lessons effectively to affect positive learning outcomes in students. Notable among them are Edward L. Thorndike’s theory of connectivism which results in transfer of learning and motivation as well as Anderson’s Schema-Theoretical Model of Reading which emphasizes the importance of background knowledge to text comprehension.
Anderson’s Schema-Theoretical Model of Reading
Anderson (2011) analyzes a type of interactive model of reading, namely a schema-theoretical model. It describes in detail how the background knowledge of the learner interacts with the reading task and illustrates how a student’s knowledge and previous experience with the world is crucial to deciphering a text. The ability to use this schemata, or background knowledge, plays a fundamental role in one’s trial to comprehend a text. Schema theory is based on the notion that past experiences lead to the creation of mental frameworks that help a reader make sense of new experiences. Smith (2002:14) calls schemes the “extensive representations of more general patterns or regularities that occur in our experience”. For instance one’s generic scheme of an airplane will allow him to make sense of airplane he has not previously flied with. This means that past experiences will be related to new experiences, which may include the knowledge of objects, situations, and events as well as knowledge of procedures for retrieving, organizing and interpreting information. Anderson (2011) presents research showing that recall of information in a text is affected by the reader’s schemata and explains that a reader comprehends a message when he is able to bring to mind a schema that gives account of the objects and events described in the message. For Anderson (2011:38), comprehension is the interaction between old and new information. The researcher emphasizes: “To say that one has comprehended a text is to say that one has found a mental ‘home’ for the information in the text or that one has modified an existing mental home in order to accommodate that new information”. Therefore, a learner’s schemata will restructure itself to accommodate new information as that information is added to the system or knowledge in store. It is the intercourse of the old and new information that guarantees comprehension.
This theory is highly related to this study because reading is all about comprehension. Moreso, experience or what a child already knows is very important in achieving reading comprehension.
Edward L. Thorndike’s Theory of Connectivism
Thorndike’s theory in Maduabum (2004) has to do with stimulus and responses. It involves three laws: laws of readiness exercise and effect. The law of readiness states that the learners’ background knowledge plays a great role in learning. This means that there must be previous knowledge at the background to help the learner face the level of learning he/she is attempting. The implication is that the learner must be prepared for learning. The law of exercise states that there must be practice before any meaningful learning takes place. On the other hand, the law of effect states that anything done that guarantees any positive or desired effect becomes associated with that situation it was carried out
A hungry cat was enclosed in a box with a dish of food placed outside the box. The cat made desperate efforts to get to the food but could not until it accidentally pulled the string attached to the box. The box opened and the cat found its way out and consumed the food. The whole process was repeated by Thorndike and the cat made several efforts and once again pulled the string accidentally and went out to eat the food. This continued until the cat got used to stamping in correct responses and stamping out incorrect ones to get the food. This theory is clear evidence that learning does not only involve constant practice but is encouraged by positive effects.
In this study, the researcher adopted Edward L. Thorndike’s theory of learning because it encourages exercise and practice. Reading involves mental exercise and constant practice, and constant practice in reading would lead to reading comprehension which would subsequently lead to greater comprehension achievement.
Furthermore, this theory was useful to this study because it upholds that the learner’s background knowledge plays a prominent role to learning. This is in line with the schema-analytical theory discussed above. Reading comprehension requires the learner’s knowledge in store to be achieved.
Moreso, this theory was adopted for this study because it would aid transfer of learning. According to Azikiwe (2005) for learning to be seen to have taken place, the child should be able to use the knowledge skills and information acquired to solve related problems. A child, who has interest in reading and is constantly reading, is likely to, at a point, begin to understand even what was incomprehensible before, and then begin to perform well academically as well as use what was learnt through reading to solve other academic and life problems.
Equally, Thorndike’s theory encourages motivation. Azikiwe (2005) stated that motivation is another aspect of psychology of learning that guides the learner to achieve the desired change in behaviour. This researcher defines motivation as the arousal of the tendency to act or behave towards a goal which is selected in preference to all other possible goals. Edem (2005) cited the concepts related to motivation to include interest, need, attitude and aspirations and all these are highly related to this study.
Review of Empirical Studies
Related empirical studies to this present study have been done. Five of such studies were discussed.
Kosemani and Ituen (2005) studied students’ approaches to reading in public and private secondary schools in Rivers State. The survey design was adopted for the study. The sample for the study was drawn through simple random sampling technique from 16 secondary schools in Rivers State. A total of 608 students were drawn from SS1 to SS3. The instrument for data collection was a Likert-type questionnaire , divided into four sections which were designed to elicit responses on students’ attitude to reading, their preferred reading contexts both in the school and at home, and their degree of perseverance in the reading task. A reliability co-efficient of 0.87 was obtained. Their findings include:
• there is significant difference between the students in public and private schools regarding their attitude to reading;
• a significant difference exists between the students in public and private schools regarding their mechanical approaches to reading;
• there is a significant difference between the public and private school students’ preferred reading contexts with particular reference to their home environment;
• a significant difference exists between the students in public and private schools concerning the degrees of perseverance they possessed in reading.
This study reviewed was highly interested in reading just like this present study but the major difference is that it was mainly devoted to students’ approaches to reading. It totally ignored the students reading interest which is one of the major keys to determining their achievement in reading comprehension. This present study would fill this gap.
Yetunde (2002) conducted a study on environmental factors and positive pleasure reading: a case study of the reading habits of secondary school students in Ondo Local Government Area. Six secondary schools were randomly selected from 36 secondary schools and 240 students were used. The findings include:
• fifty (20%) of the respondents belonged to families where both parents are educated beyond the secondary school level;
• one hundred and forty eight (62%) belonged to families where one of the two parents are educated enough to qualify them to work at lower levels in any government establishments;
• forty two (17%) came from families where neither of the parents are educated.
This study reviewed, tried to highlight the importance of the environment (literacy level of the child’s parents) to his reading habit. As much as the present researcher partly agrees with it that environment plays a role to the child’s reading, the gap still begging to be filled is the area of students’ reading interest and reading achievement. This current study intends to close the gap.
Equally, Oyetunde (2002) conducted a study to determine how secondary school students process print. In the study, cloze tests were administered to 282 SS2 students drawn from five different schools in Jos, Plateau State. Four cloze passages were prepared for the students. Two of the passages were on a readability level of the grade tested and the other two were a readability level below that grade level. These two passages were either on their instructional or their frustration level. Each passage was about 300 words in length. Readers were given the two lower level passages first and later the more difficult passages. The findings of the study showed that:
• the students who read the passages at both frustration and instructional level were stronger in their ability to use syntactic cues,
• the readers for whom the passages were on frustration level were limited in their ability to use information from between and within sentences (comprehension was slow),
• readers failed to observe punctuation marks thereby predicting words which resulted in sentences which were semantically and syntactically unacceptable.
In Oyetunde’s study, how secondary school students process print was highlighted. The study confirmed that indeed there was a reading problem among secondary school students. It neither traced the problem to the students’ reading interest nor established the relationship between the students’ reading interest and their reading comprehension achievement. This current study would add to the efforts made by Oyetunde to establish this relationship.
A study by Jiboku (2002) examined the relative effectiveness of pre-reading strategy instruction on reading achievement of senior secondary school students. A pre-test-post-test control quasi-experimental group design in which experimental groups were set up, were used. Two secondary schools were used out of the six secondary schools in Abeokuta. School A served as the experimental group while School B was the control group. The findings indicated that the experimental group performed better than the control group after treatment.
This study reviewed is related to the current study in the sense that they are both interested in the reading comprehension of the students. The major difference, however, is that the study under review studied the relative effectiveness of pre-reading instruction as a way of guiding the students to easy and quick way of understanding a comprehension passage, the later is looking at the relationship between reading interest and reading comprehension achievement of students.
In a similar study, Oyebola (2004) examined a selection of general reading books for children authored by Nigerians, with the aim of observing the distribution of the main characters in terms of gender. Seven books were selected for the study. The data was analyzed using frequency counts and percentages. The findings indicated that there was gender bias in the distribution of main characters.
This study reviewed concentrated on gender. This is in line with what the present study is also interested in. The reviewed study established that gender bias is displayed by some writers in the presentation of their language use, characterization and illustration in some textbooks as well as general reading materials produced in Nigeria. However, the gap between the study in review and the present study lies on whether this gender bias as seen in the presentation of books by authors affects the reading interest of students. This makes the current study very vital. This is because part of its purpose is to determine the reading interest of the students based on gender.
Summary of Reviewed Literature
The related literature review of this study discussed the concept of reading, reading comprehension and voluntary reading; reading interest, poor student’s attitude towards reading/teacher’s incompetence, the place of reading in secondary school curriculum/time table, large classes, environmental/cultural factors and the student’s reading interest, as well as the methods of teaching reading.
Literatures were also reviewed on the relationship between reading and reading comprehension achievement and they were seen to have a kind of relationship. The amount of reading done by student’s seemed to correlate with their reading achievements.
Equally, the review of related literatures examined text-types read by students and it was discovered that students read different types of texts. Gender in relation to the reading interest of students was also reviewed. In the review, it was seen that gender seemed to be affecting the student’s reading interest.
Literature was also reviewed on The Chief Examiner’s Reports on West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). This literature showed that students perform poorly in English yearly. Also, students reading achievement seemed to correlate with success in school and the amount of independent reading they do.
The empirical studies reviewed indicated that the researchers studied students’ approaches to reading, the importance of the environment to the students reading habit, how secondary school students process print and, the relative effectiveness of pre-reading strategy instruction on reading achievement of senior secondary school students and, selection of general reading books for children authored by Nigerians: observing the distribution of the main characters in terms of gender.
The researchers in the literatures reviewed succeeded in studying the students’ guided voluntary reading. Whether the students were really interested in indulging in such voluntary reading they were compelled to engage in by these researchers to carry out their studies was totally ignored. This study will close this gap.
Equally, all the empirical studies reviewed ignored the reading interests of the students which are part of the major elements in reading and reading comprehension achievement. The present study will also close the gap. No study known to the researcher in this area of study has been carried out. It is the importance of this key aspect that has been ignored by researchers that compelled the researcher to embark on this study: Relationship between Reading Interest and Students’ Achievement in Reading Comprehension in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State, Nigeria.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN READING INTEREST AND STUDENTS ACHIEVEMENT IN READING COMPREHNSION
IN AFIKPO EDUCATION ZONE OF
EBONYI STATE, NIGERIA
DEPARTMENT OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCE,
FACULTY OF EDUCATION
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