Using Motivation And Interest To Improve Reading Skills Of Secondary School Students
The persistent underperformance in reading has warranted further research to determine what factors have not been considered nor given enough attention in the on- going reform efforts. Student’s interest and motivation on reading methods is a factor that is known to influence students’ learning and reading skill. The purpose of this study therefore was to determine the effect of student’s interest and motivation on practical method and reading skill by first trying to establish their attitudes regarding reading and also finding out the factors that influence these attitudes. The study would provide understanding of some of the learners’ behaviors as a result of their interest and motivation on reading and would go a long way in helping the learners to develop positive attitudes which is a recipe for better learning and reading skill. This study adopted a descriptive survey design due to the implicit nature of the study. The study involved some seven sampled public secondary schools in Lagos state and the target population were the form four students who were about to sit for their NECO examinations. Purposive and random samplings were employed in selecting the schools and the students from those schools respectively with the use of students’ questionnaires as a method of data collection. The questionnaires were designed to capture some of the students’ perceptions and beliefs regarding reading which were grouped according to themes including liking, difficulty, usefulness and future expectations regarding reading. The findings also show that perceptions and beliefs, perceived learning abilities and competencies and previous performances of students in reading affected their level of motivation leading to low outcomes. The study recommends the use of varied instructional strategies by the teachers, which promote discovery and elicit learner interest and motivation. The students should be encouraged to apply the taught knowledge and skills through feedback and assignments. There is therefore, a need to offer and build on experiences and opportunities that inspire the students to engage fully in the material fact and acquire knowledge and skills that would enable them excel in the reading because they like and value it.
Introduction and Context
1.0 Background of the Study
In learning, people are expected to be able to master all language skills of; listening, speaking, reading, and writing. It is based on the goal of teaching. To be able to use speak well, one of the most important skill is reading. Juyandegan (2016) defined reading as a cognitive process which includes transferring the written symbols by the reader through the eyes, so these symbols need understanding meaning and then integrating this meaning into personal experiences. In line with this, Murcia (2001) explained that reading is an interactive, socio-cognitive process involving a text, a reader, and a social context within which the activity of reading takes place. So, Reading is the window of the world. By reading, people will know many things. It is very important aspect in our life. Much information and knowledge can be obtained from reading. By reading, the students can develop ideas, increase knowledge, and overcome problems. Brown (2004) indicated that reading is likewise skill that educators simply expect students to acquire. Besides, Acheaw (2014) argue that reading makes way for a better understanding of one’s own experiences and it can be an exciting voyage to self-discovery. All in all, reading is the process of getting new information and knowledge. Reading is a skill that is critical in the educational success of all individuals, Bagheri and Sadeghi (2013) stated that reading is the most important academic skill. It is supported by Sari (2017) stated that students’ success in academic life depends on the ability to read and understand written EnglishIt can be concluded that reading means the students’ ability in understanding the message from the written materials they read. By reading, people can convey information, know world development, and gain new knowledge that will guide deep thinking. Ahmadi (2014) explained why reading is very importance, firstly, learners continuously come across it in their daily life. Secondly, students need to study longer texts and articles and they will have to read a lot of reading texts in their academic endeavor. Astrid stated students have various personality factors that should be considered by the teacher in planning and conducting learning activities. Ghazali, Rabi, Wahab, and Rohaizad (2017) stated that to produce an effective teaching, a curriculum approach based on technology has to be produced which includes teachers’ technique in planning instruction and also their knowledge in planning instruction. Therefore, without understanding the texts and improving their reading skill they cannot learn much. In line with the above idea, Indonesian Constitution number 20 year 2003 about National Education System, chapter III has stated that one of the ways to accomplish education goal for all Indonesians is by developing their reading habit and literacy. Rahman, Hariadi, and Mustofa (2017) stated that teacher should have emotional, spiritual, social intelligence, learning awareness, proactive, and balance. Further, Jaya and Habibi(2016) stated that factors that influence students in language learning specially in speaking are the size of class, facilities and the role of English as the foreign language. Without equal reading, student can struggle in many subject area. Reading is an important skill needed for all areas. Bagheri and Sadeghi (2013) argue in spite of this crucial role of reading. Some people still have problems concerning reading. Also, Marliasari states that reading is the process of looking at a series of written symbols and getting meaning from them. Andres argues that language learning is affected by both domains which are the mental and reading sides of human behavior. Attraphacul (2013) explored in reading factors contributing to text difficulty may arise from some elements within the text, the knowledge base of the individual reader, or the context of interaction between the writer and the reader. So, It can be concluded that reading is an important part that needs to be developed. By reading, the students can get much information and knowledge, and also the students can improve their ability in English. Besides, within the text lie the unknown vocabulary, the complicated sentence structure as well as the organizational pattern. The individual reader approaches the same piece of text with different background knowledge, reading proficiency, and purpose. Alharby states that those are potential problems which can avoid students to read. Lacking in reading skills, or even having lower ability than normal reading abilities can guide in truancy, underpaid jobs, and falling prey to the cycle of illiteracy in the next generations. There are factors that influent the success in reading, Brown (2007) states that linguistic and non-linguistic factors. Linguistic is a factor that comes from the language such as vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, etc. meanwhile, nonlinguistic factor comes from the students’ personality or students’ psychology such as motivation, attitude, anxiety and reading maturity. Reading maturity is one form of level in reading activities. Philbrick, and Jarman (2009) explained that reading maturity is defined as the attainment of those interest and motivations, attitudes and skills which enable young people and adults to participate eagerly, independently, and effectively in all the reading activities essential to a full, rich, and productive life. The concept of reading maturity defined as the capacity of the reader to apply information comprehended from texts in different experiences, and toward the expansion of his or her knowledge (Biancarosa & Snow, 2004). Foltz (2015) stated that reading maturity incorporates modern approaches to natural language processing and artificial maturity to assess broader and deeper levels of information in reading passages.It means that reading maturity incorporates a computational language model to estimate the language experience required for a student to be able to process the meaning of each word, sentence, and sequences of words in the English language. For some people, reading maturity was ignored, moreover, the role of reading maturity has big contribution in second language. Squires (2014) indicates that there has been little or no information available on the reading behaviors of developing readers and their relationships with reading. If students have low reading maturity, they will be suffer in comprehending the text such as frustration, confuse to get the purpose of the text, unable to decide the kinds of good materials and difficult to make intention to read. As reading instruction evolved, what was emphasized was that such instruction should be use Dinmore holistic approaches to comprehension and complex thought (Thomas, 2001). Thus, reading maturity can be summarized as a set of internal factors that allow individuals to use information from reading to supplement and improve their own lived experience. Based on the informal interview with one of English teacher and the students of SMA Muhammadiyah 1 Palembang, the teacher said that every students had different level of reading maturity. Students argued that the laziest activities in learning English is reading, because it is as complicated subject because they must realize or comprehend what they read, when they are reading, the do not have a real aim, just focus how to read well, and they are hard to think about the meaning. Some of the students were not satisfied with their reading score. Most of them prefer playing games or social media. In fact, they got bored reading books. It could happen due to some reasons. As a result, only few of them read, at least to finish in a day. Hence, it is critically essential to investigate the relationship between reading maturity of the students and their comprehension achievement. There are some previous research which have been conducted before related to both variables, reading maturity and reading. But the result is still inconsistence. Squires (2014) found that there was significant correlation between reading maturity and reading. In contrast, Abdulzhi (2012) found the correlation between reading maturity and reading was negative.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
A negative interest and motivation on reading has been found to be a contributing factor towards under-performance in school. The negative attitude in reading has created a lot of fear and anxiety among students who continue to perform dismally as they lack the interest and motivation, curiosity and patience needed for learning and performing related tasks concerning to reading. Studies on student’s performances in reading have mostly pointed to the fact that student’s attitude is a major contributor yet has received very little attention if any. There is therefore a need to study the effect of student attitudes and beliefs as is the integral part of sociocognitive learning which affect the learning outcomes (Burstein, 1992). This study would concern itself with a variety of beliefs that students harbor and which have potential effects on their learning processes as would determine their ability and willingness to learn. Students’ opinions and beliefs regarding reading, how much they like it, how important they think it is, how difficult they perceive it is and the future expectations can be understood as facets of student’s interest and motivation on reading and which determine their success in reading (Aiken, 2002).
The various reform efforts which have been launched to guide the teaching and learning of reading in schools e.g. the SMASSE project, has not realized any significant improvement in the general performance of reading. These reforms point to the structural factors which leaves little attention given to student’s factors as a contributor towards teaching and learning to read. This is a clear indication that structural changes alone are a necessary, but not sufficient condition in realizing an improved performance (Trends in international reading and reading study, 1999). There is a need therefore to understand the learners themselves, their attitudes and perceptions towards reading with the aim of suggesting strategies for improvement in the teaching and learning of reading through attitude change. As a result, some balance should be struck between curriculum goals and the student performance (Mullins et al, 2001). Hence the purpose of the study which is using motivation and interest and motivation to improve reading skills of secondary school students.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of using motivation and interest and motivation to improve reading skills of secondary school students
1.4 Objectives of the Study
- To determine the perceptions of students about reading in public secondary schools in Lagos state.
- To examine the factors influencing student interest and motivation in Reading
- To investigate how student’s interest and motivation on reading method affect their learning and reading skill
- To seek recommendations on how to improve students interest and motivation on learning and performance of reading.
1.5 Research questions
- What was the perception of students towards reading?
- What factors influenced student’s interest and motivation towards Reading?
- How did student’s interest and motivation on reading methods impact on their reading skill?
- In which ways could the student attitudes be improved towards better learning and reading skill?
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study would help all the interest and motivationed parties in understanding the factors within the learners themselves and how the learners ultimately can contribute to their own learning processes and reading skill. The study was to help in exposing some of the perceptions and beliefs which learners acquire and carry into the classroom environment and which are of paramount importance to all stakeholders in education in attempting to improve teaching and learning of reading in all schools. The study therefore would provide crucial information to curriculum planners that will guide in the designing policies and strategies towards improving reading skill.
The teacher would understand the learners better so as to capture their attention and change their perceptions and interest and motivation on reading. Motivation, reinforcement and relevant instructional strategies by the teachers, might help the learners get directions on what is expected. Through this study, the learners would understand themselves and that their reading skill is a consequence of their actions, attitudes and effort which they can control for their successful learning and improvement in reading.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
The study was carried out in Lagos State and specifically in Ikeja LGA. The region has quite a number of both public and private secondary schools. The study would focus only on public secondary schools due to the fact that the schools enjoy the same fee funding and subsidies from the government. The respondents may not have been willing to give the genuine information as expected. The questionnaires used or distributed were not all collected while others were collected with some sections not answered. The sample size may not have been representative of the entire school population in the area. The findings might have been ambiguous as may not show the real cause of failure in reading is due to attitudes. Learners gave varied views which were difficult to harmonize as were not consistent in some sections.
1.8 Delimitations of the Study
The proposed study was based on public secondary schools in Lagos State where reading ranking always is the last. The study would confine itself to form four students who were just about to sit for their final exams as they already have established predispositions towards reading and where majority of them coming from the same social and economic background. The schools selected had adequate subject teachers, facilities and conducive environment which could allow for investigation of other factors affecting reading skill.
1.9 Organization of the Study
This study is organized into five chapters. Chapter one included the background of the study, research problem, research objectives and questions as well as limitation of the study. Chapter two contains the literature review. Chapter three includes the methodology and study area. Chapter Four contains the results and discussion of key findings of the study. Chapter Five finally looks at the summary, conclusions, and recommendations based on the findings.
Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations
This chapter presents a summary of the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the study. The chapter also has some research gaps identified and recommendations for further research.
5.1 Summary of the Findings
5.1.1 Perception of the students about reading
The findings of the study indicate that the students have a positive interest and motivation on reading. The findings show that the students like reading, enjoy and look forward for reading lessons. These positive attitudes are key to providing conducive environment for learning as the students learn better if they enjoy what they are learning however, this is not reflected in their performances in reading.
5.1.2 Factors influencing students interest and motivation in reading
The study established three factors which influence student’s interest and motivation:
The students’ perceptions and beliefs were found to influence their interest and motivation on reading. The study found that students perceived reading positively. They agreed that reading was widely applicable and useful in their future careers. Majority did not perceive reading as a difficult subject and could not fail to pursue it even if it was optional. Hence perception is among the strongest predictor variables affecting students’ reading skill.
The second factor influencing student’s interest and motivation on practical method towards reading is the learning ability and competence in reading. Although the students agreed that reading involved a lot of decoding and fluency which were difficult to grasp, they confessed they could get good grades after working hard. The learning abilities and positive minds of the students enabled them to view reading as something learnable, achievable and were related to most of the environmental activities. The beliefs about their competencies affected their interest and motivation on reading as the students felt that not everyone can be good in all subjects.
The third factor which affects reading is the previous performance and rankings in reading. The study found that reading was the least performed subject in schools and this had given students a dull perception that it was normal to fail in reading. This creates a myth that reading is a subject which is normally scored poorly. This shows that previous reading skill negatively affected student’s interest and motivation on practical method towards reading.
5.1.3 Effects of the attitudes on the student reading skills.
The other objective of the study was to establish the effect of attitudes on reading performance. It was established that;
Attitudes affected the effort and behaviour of students towards reading in various ways. students who liked and enjoyed reading are expected to be motivated, could complete all the assignments, do extra work, pay attention to the teachers in class, could not miss a lesson and were always prepared for reading lessons regardless of the presence or absence of the teacher. A good percentage of students were in contrary to this expectation which is reflected in their dismal performances. They fail to complete the assignments and do practice which makes it difficult for them to perform.
Attitude determines students’ ability, willingness to learn, choice of action and response to challenges. It determines the level of engagement, interest and motivation, personal effort without which one can hardly perform. Students are aware of what it takes to perform in reading yet they lack commitment. They know if they work hard they can improve but would constantly fail to do the necessary.
Attitude also influences the confidence level of students in reading. The study found that students were positive of getting good grades in their final NECO exams, had confidence in tackling mathematical related problems and most would pursue reading related courses in future which reflect high level of confidence of students in reading. However, on the contrary the positive attitude of the students does not match their performance as most of them scored dismally in reading.
5.2 Conclusions of the Study
The study concludes that:
Students generally have a favourable interest and motivation on reading. The student like, enjoy and look forward to the reading lessons. Thus, there is a positive and good interest and motivation on reading as an activity by the secondary school students in Lagos State. The students do not hate reading as is widely thought but exhibit favorable interest and motivation on reading. Though Positive attitudes alone may not significantly predict good performance as shown by the students’ grades, there are other mediating factors including student effort and commitment that connect attitude and performance without which attitude alone may not reflect performance.
The interest and motivation on reading is influenced by the perception and beliefs about reading, learning abilities and competence in reading and the previous performance and rankings in reading in schools where the later poses a negative influence. The effect of attitude of students on learning and performance is reflected in terms of the effort and behaviour of students towards reading through motivation, completion of assignments, and attention in class and lesson attendance hence low level of engagement which makes it difficult to perform in reading.
The attitudes of the students also influence their confidence level in reading mostly in terms of their feeling about getting good grades, tackling mathematical tasks and their desire to pursue reading related courses in the future.
Though the students are aware of the importance of reading and what it takes to achieve in reading, they lack commitment which limits them of their future career opportunities due to dismal reading skill. This may also imply that the educational goals are not being achieved.
Students attribute their performances in reading mostly to the school environments, abilities, future interest and motivation and personal effort and less on social constructs (parents, teachers and peers).
5.3 Recommendations of the Study
The study makes the following recommendations:
- The school administration should advantageously make use of the learners’ positive attitude to create a strong inclination and culture of reading in secondary schools.
- The curriculum designers and the teachers should articulate well on the usefulness and applicability of reading in general so that students create positive minds towards reading and subsequently strive to improve in reading.
- The Ministry of education, teachers and parents should ensure that performance of reading among students is improved so as to dislodge the negative attitude and create a positive one on performance of reading in secondary schools. This will counteract the effect of previous failures and rankings in reading which may degenerate into negative school culture and definitely low performance.
- The parents and the teachers should explore other avenues to change the behaviour of students towards reading and the interest and motivations of the students towards reading. The student generally should be motivated through persuasion, use of reinforcements, provision of learning resources and improving on teacher support which cuts across the home and the school environments.
- Teachers can best motivate their learners to excel in reading as they are important tools in changing and shaping the learners interest and motivation on reading.
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