PERCEIVED DIFFICULTIES STUDENTS ARE FACED WITH WHILE READING AND THE E…
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
A creative and pragmatic education involves the habit of personal investigation. The act of personal investigation requires self-study to be followed by self-thinking and analysis. Self-study, otherwise referred to as reading at one’s own accord, requires a habit, which is known as reading habit. Reading makes way for a better understanding of one’s own experiences and it can be an exciting voyage to self-discovery. “Reading habit is best formed at a young impressionable age in school, but once formed it can last one’s life time (Green, 2001). Reading and academic achievement are essential for research workers and educationists to know that every child whether he or she is gifted, average, normal or backward etc, should be educated in his or her own way but if he or she possesses good study habits, he or she can perform well in academics and in every situation. It is the reading habits which help the learner in obtaining meaningful and desirable knowledge. Good reading habits act as a strong weapon for the students to excel in life (Bashir & Mattoo, 2012).
According to Wixon, Peters, Weber and Roeber (1987), reading is the process of constructing meaning through the dynamic interaction among the reader, the text and the context of the reading situation. Reading process involves visual motor skills and perception of the symbols by the brain. It is generally broken down into two components: „reading‟ the words, or decoding and understanding what is read, or comprehension (Cooper, Warnoke & Shipman, 1988; Samuels, 1988). This study intended to use the definition according to Manzo and Manzo (1993) who define reading as the act of simultaneously reading the lines, reading between the lines, and reading beyond the lines. „Reading the lines‟ is the process of decoding the words in order to reconstruct the author’s basic message. Reading between the lines‟ is the process of making inferences in order to reconstruct the author’s implied messages. This requires an understanding of the integral logic of facts presented as well as an understanding of connotative and figurative language. Reading beyond the lines‟ is the process of judging the significance of the author’s message and constructively applying it to other areas of knowledge and experience. Typical reading difficulties of adolescents with mild disabilities include problems with vocabulary, word recognition, reading comprehension and reading rate. Reading appears to affect performance in all other academic subjects as well as to impact vocational needs and options (Feagans, 1983; Hallahan, Kauffman & Lioyd, 1985). Mercer (1987) denotes several types of reading problems that are typically found among students such as reading habits, word recognition errors, comprehension errors and miscellaneous symptoms. Smith et al. (1985) also lists several common problems experienced by some students who suffer from reading disabilities. These include: omitting letters, syllables or words; inserting extra letters, words or sound; substituting words that look or sound similar; mispronouncing words; repeating words and using improper inflection during oral reading. Reading disability is a deliberating problem for many children, adolescents and adults in North America and throughout the world. Educators, parents, physicians, as well as society in general share a common concern about individuals who do not learn to read. All teachers have the responsibility of understanding and helping their failing and frustrated students. Elementary classroom teachers, reading teachers, special education teachers and secondary school teachers need knowledge about the assessment and treatment of reading difficulties (Richet, List & Lerner, 1989).
Palani (2012) is of the opinion that, effective reading is important avenue of effective learning and reading is interrelated with the total educational process and hence, educational success requires successful reading habit. He believes reading is the identification of the symbols and the association of appropriate meaning with them. It requires identification and comprehension. Comprehension skills help the learner to understand the meaning of words in isolation and in context. Before the advent of the television, both the young and the old found enough time to read. Apart from teachers, other professionals used to spend their leisure time in reading both English and vernacular literature. English medium schools almost always demanded extra reading from their students. But all these have become a thing of the past. Palani (2012) further added that, nowadays, reading habit has lost its importance as both the young and the old are glued to the television. As far as educational institutions are concerned, coaching students for the examinations seems to be the be-all and end-all of our educational system. Therefore, the researcher sought to identify and establish the effects of students‟ reading difficulties on academic performance.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
According to Lerner (2006), a number of learners, for unexplained reasons, are unable to use reading as a tool for learning, getting new information, ideas, attitudes, and values from standard 4 upwards. Even after they have been taught, it is quite unfortunate that a large number (17.5 per cent) of them are unable to read efficiently at higher class levels (Lerner, 2006). According to Mercer and Mercer (2001), between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of school – going learners have reading difficulties. Lerner (2006) notes that, more than 17.5 per cent of learners have reading difficulties. This study sought to determine the relationship between this poor academic performance and reading difficulties. Carmine, Silber and Kameenui (1997) found reading difficulties to be the principal cause of failure in school. Furthermore, reading failure could lead to misbehavior, anxiety and lack of motivation (Carmine et al., 1997). The researcher, therefore, wished to establish whether reading difficulties could be a major contributing factor to the poor performance since reading skill is needed in order to interpret examination questions and even to comprehend what the questions require for an answer. Word recognition, reading comprehension and application are the reading skills assessed most often (Kerr, Nelsom & Lambert, 1987).
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study to find out the extent to which reading difficulties affect academic performance, to make the research easier the specified objectives are:
1. To establish different reading difficulties that affect students‟ academic performance
2. To find out the effects of reading difficulties on students‟ academic performance
3. To identify challenges faced by secondary school English language teachers in dealing with reading difficulties among students
4. To establish appropriate strategies that would enhance reading.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions will guide and help the researcher to achieve the specified objective of this study:
1. What are the reading difficulties that affect academic performance of students
2. What are the effects of reading difficulties on student’s academic performance
3. How do English language teachers handle reading difficulties among the students
4. What strategies can be used to help and enhance reading among the students
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Data and information obtained from this study can be used to inform teachers and students about learners with reading difficulties in order to improve their academic performance. The findings provide appropriate information to Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) as they develop curricula and syllabus for respective academic levels for learners with reading difficulties. Policy-makers are informed about students‟ reading difficulties and the need to train secondary teachers on SNE. Teachers are made aware of students in this category and the need to offer them assistance. Finally, parents can gain from their children‟s improved academic performance.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study covers the entire junior secondary school students of Alaafin high school and Alaafin grammar school, Agunpopo, in Atiba local government area of Oyo state.
1.7 DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The major problem faced during this research is time, the researcher has limited time to complete the research and also insufficient fund to finance the project also to visit more one school.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Difficulties: the state or condition of being difficult.
Students: a person who is studying at a university or other place of higher education or a school pupils
Effects: a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause
Academic performance: he extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their short or long-term educational goals.