PROJECT TOPIC: INTRODUCTION OF READING COMPREHENSION IN LEARNERS
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Background to the study
The development of reading comprehension in learners has long been investigated for two basic reasons: Literacy (reading to live) and academic achievement (reading to think). Reading comprehension is now the basic need of a citizen to live and to act successfully in his professional and academic contexts. It is even viewed to be the core language skill to build the development of all other language skills and sub skills such as Listening, speaking, writing, vocabulary and grammar (Anderson, 2012). In addition, the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have been the time of numerous migrations around the world and the use of world languages increased. Hence, in the modern linguistically diverse societies, the level of expectation for a person to function well is higher than those in the past local communities (Grabe, 2009).
Good comprehenders know how to control reading, to construct meaning, and to monitor their reading by using reading strategies appropriately. Lots of strategies have been devised and revised so far. However, choosing the appropriate strategy depends on different factors like, the level of students, the kind of the text, students’ culture and background knowledge, purpose of reading, etc.
McNamara (2007) mentioned three reasons to claim the necessity of reading comprehension strategies. First, many readers do not know exactly whether they are adequately comprehending the text. It is believed that acquisition of reading strategies help readers improve their comprehension calibration. Second, many readers have a misconception of comprehension. When they read a text, they settle for shallow levels of comprehension. These Shallow readers believe they have adequately comprehended a text if they can recognize the words and most of the sentences. However, “deep comprehension requires inferences, linking ideas coherently, scrutinizing the validity of claims with a critical stance, and sometimes understanding the motives of authors” (McNamara, 2007). Third, deep comprehension of technical text is a difficult challenge for nearly all adults even skill readers. As a result acquisition of better strategies of reading comprehension is needed as a lifelong reading. And finally, Lems, Miller, and Soro (2010) put it in their words: “Reading comprehension requires the use of strategies before, during, and after reading” (p. 172).
Reading comprehension strategies can be divided in two groups: single reading comprehension strategies and combining reading strategies.
Single Reading Comprehension Strategy: Different lists of reading comprehension strategies were identified by various scholars and organizations. Some reading strategies are repeated in each list showing the importance of them. Zimmermann and Hutchins (2003) identified following seven reading comprehension strategies (as cited in Moreillon, 2007): Activating or building background knowledge, Using sensory images, Questioning, Making predictions and inferences, Determining main ideas, Using fix-up options, and Synthesizing. Guthrie, Wigfield, and Perencevich (2004) identified the following as strong strategies which can assist elementary readers: Activating background knowledge, Questioning in reading, Searching for information, Summarizing during reading, organizing graphically, and Structuring story.
Combining Reading Strategies: Some researchers have examined how reading strategies work together in strategy packages (Guthrie et al, 2004). It seems reasonable since good readers coordinate a set of strategies to comprehend a text (Reutzel, Smith, & Fawson, 2005). Blachowicz and Ogle (2008) introduced two groups of reading strategies: reading strategies for informational texts which include: The KWL, Reciprocal teaching, External text features, Nonfiction book report , Text previewing, Tables of contents, Internal text structures, Text structure frames, I-Charts, Reciprocal teaching, Questioning the author, Levels of questions. Reading Strategies for Fiction Texts: Map literature circles, Bookmarks, Story problem solving, Story impressions, Sketch to stretch, Save the last word for me, Journal writing, Great books shared inquiry, Grand conversations, Book clubs, Literature circles, and Readers’ workshop.
It is therefore pertinent to begin with the notion that English language is a language without which there could not have been an entity called Nigeria (Ogunsiji and Olanrewaju, 2002). This Ezeokoli (2005) gave credent to when he also dispelled that English language is very crucial to the Nigeria education system .It is not only the medium of instruction especially at the upper primary, secondary and tertiary level of education but also the language of text-books. It is through the vehicle of English language that student accesses knowledge in other subject areas.
INTRODUCTION OF READING COMPREHENSION IN LEARNERS
Yet, the academic performance of students both at secondary school and postsecondary school is worrisome .This Adesanoye (1994) pin-pointed while he referred to Adeniran that there is indeed a lot wrong with the performance in English even among University students and graduates for that matter. Djihed (2013) also confirmed that even among the Arab students, students perform poorly in General English which compound their reading comprehension difficulties.
To this effect, proficiency in the English language is essentially not only for academic success alone but to perform in life as various individuals. However, there is low proficiency in English language and this to a very large extent resulted in under-achievement among Nigeria senior secondary school students and those at the higher institutions (Olanipekun, 2012). This shameful failure Akinsolu (2010) axiomatically noted in the public’s unhappiness which becomes more prominent following the annual release of the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination results, since the student outcomes do not match the government and parental investments both at the senior secondary schools and tertiary institutions. Nevertheless, it is obvious that students’ academic performance in English language is abysmally low.
In this sense, the overriding need for English, not only as the language of instruction in schools alone but also as the language of science and technology even in technically inclined institutions has thus resulted in its integration in the Nigerian educational system at all levels. At the tertiary level, English or General English is taught as a compulsory subject in both the science and vocational faculties. Without doubt, English is significant to the students’ academic success, especially for graduate and post-graduate students as most of the documentations related to their field of specialization are written in English (Djihed, 2013). More accurately, these learners require English to comprehend texts written in English, which are related to their discipline.
On the rostrum of some the causes of poor academic performance in English language is attitude to the language and according to Okoye (1982), he averred that if we develop a negative attitude, it may seriously interfere with one’s performance not only in the examination but even in life. Some educators and social scientists have argued that peer influence contributes to a lack of effort and interest in school work as unfolded by Olanipekun (2012) while citing Bishop. These factors may be accountable for poor performance in English language.
The directed reading thinking activity (DRTA) was developed by Stauffer in 1969. The DRTA is a strategy that guides students in asking questions about a text, making predictions, and then reading to confirm or refute their predictions. In fact, DRTA provides the teacher an opportunity to guide students to think like good readers do by anticipating, predicting, and then confirming and modifying their ideas with the story. DRTA is mostly used with fiction, but it can be used successfully with nonfiction too. Blachowicz and Ogle (2008) believed that DRTA is one of the strongest ways which can help teachers engage students actively in the pieces of literature they are reading. Al Odwan (2012) noted that the directed reading thinking activity is a much stronger model for building independent readers and learners.
DRTA is designed to assist students in setting a purpose for reading; making, justifying, and verifying predictions; and coming to conclusion. DRTA encourages students to make prediction while they are reading. After reading segments of a text, students stop, confirm or revise previous predictions, and make new predictions about what they will read next. DRTA technique can help the students to study especially in extensive reading. As the teacher knowing that extensive reading become an important subject in reading skill. By using DRTA the teacher can improve the ability and intelligence simultaneously in teaching extensive reading in the English Language classroom.
From the foregoing, this study is geared towards ascertaining the application of Directed Reading and Thinking Activity (Dr.TA) strategy in the language classroom among JSS 2 students in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
Statement of the problem
The problem in comprehension could be a result of the lack of instruction in reading comprehension strategies. In searching for a solution to students’ poor comprehension skills all over the world, many researchers (e.g., Bongratz, et al., 2002; Cramer, Fate and Lueders, 2001; Song, 1998) found that reading strategies are beneficial in helping poor readers improve their comprehension skills.
DRTA is a motivating teaching strategy but yet to be utilized by the teachers in our secondary schools. Students enjoy making predictions and then finding out whether or not their predictions were correct and this shows that the application of Dr.TA strategy will improve the students performance in English language classroom. DRTA is also a very flexible strategy in that it can be used individually, with a small group, or with an entire class. It can also be used in any subject and can meet the needs of any levelled reader.
From the foregoing, the study tends to ascertain the application of Directed Reading and Thinking Activity (Dr.TA) strategy in the language classroom among JSS 2 students in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi St