Problems in Reading Comprehension Skills

Problems in Reading Comprehension Skills among 11-13 Years Old Students and Effective Ways to Improve the Skill

Introduction

Learning is an integral process that societies undertake. The role of education is uncontested given the number of endless opportunities linked to the acquisition of knowledge. It is thus not surprising much emphasis is placed on education. Despite many efforts to improve learning, challenges persist. Against this backdrop, the proposed study will focus on problems students between the ages of 11 and 13 encounter in reading comprehension skills with the aim of identifying effective methods to address them.

According to OECD, the International Standard Classification of Education defines general education as programs geared towards developing the knowledge, competencies and skills (numeral and literacy) of learners. Thus, without a doubt, learning brings many advantages to those undertaking the process. Societies are also beneficiaries of knowledge and skills given that high productivity is only achieved through learning. OECD observed that an additional year of education translates to an increase in economic output of countries. As a result, improving education in terms of enhancing literacy is critical towards attaining growth and development.

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Reading and comprehension skills play an important role in a person’s life by facilitating the acquisition of tools required to perform their duties perfectly later in life. Literate individuals are able to access and dissect information leading to making informed choices about a range of social, economic or political issues. The significance of literacy skills is evident given that it is a variable that is internationally assessed across countries. Results from studies of this nature inform governments by providing a global perspective on a country’s state. Thus, it was not surprising that the OECD came up with the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2001 to explore how young people approaching the end of compulsory learning were prepared to face societal challenges.

Reading is considered an essential skill. Reading is important for any individual to succeed in the academic activities that they engage. During the early years, students are taught how to obtain information from a number of sources, from differing levels of complexity. As students advance through the learning process, the complexity increases to broaden their prowess/ ability. OECD sponsored studies have shown that problems exist regarding reading and comprehension across many states. OECD found that up to forty-seven percent of students ranked lowly in terms of reading proficiency.

Comprehension teaching is based on instilling techniques that allow students to scale higher levels of competence. Many strategies have been devised such as using self-guided approaches to improve reading and comprehension. Through the employment of talk rotation between teachers and students, it is possible to apply the cognitive modeling method. In the past (up to the 21st century), comprehension lessons have often focused on answering questions posed by teachers and writing responses to questions. Teachers also required their students to read portions of a text. In the last part of the twentieth century, evidence proved that read-test strategies were successful compared to teaching comprehension. Thus, it is evident that some strategies are more suitable than other are.

The use of instruction in comprehension entails releasing responsibility gradually where teachers explain and devise appropriate strategies. With time, teachers assign students more responsibilities leading to more workload on the part of the learners. The process continues until students are able to learn and interpret texts independently. The method is associated with self-regulation which is based on social cognition. According to Manset-Williamson, balanced strategic methods on reading involving explicit reading comprehension can be useful. Other measures entail the incorporation of technology such as the Computer-assisted Collaborative Strategic Reading (CACSR). The use of student-led software has shown positive association with reading comprehension improvement. Fluency/ reading skills are necessary for one to improve on their comprehension ability.

As already pointed, several strategies are advanced to address the reading comprehension problem. Some of the most commonly used ones are direct strategic instruction and technology. When teaching struggling children basic reading skills, the instructional techniques focus on deliberate imparting of reading strategies among learners given that continued failure is unhealthy. Teachers need to instruct learners to adopt a strategic method to teach students to respond to the varied environments of studying. Given that students with problem find difficulties in understanding subtle techniques, the use of overt or explicit ones is preferred. Other useful methods that fit the technique include self-monitoring, generalizing, and summarizing.

One of the useful approaches that are critical in improving reading comprehension skills is to enlist technology. Through the method, computer-aided programs help in reading and comprehension. The programs provide motivational attributes compared to the traditional instructional method. Students at the age of 11 to 13 are comfortable learning via computers hence a popular approach. The added sense of enhances reading and comprehension as students understand that they are behind their peers. In brief, students are more confident working on computers than relying on traditional instructional methods.

As students grow older, reading assumes an integral role in their learning process. When older students struggle to read, they encounter bigger obstacles as they are unable to overcome the problem later in life. According to Tompkins, when students are unable to read up to grade eight, the chances of dropping out of school increases significantly. However, the author indicated that early interventions to address the challenge yield fruits. Thus, helping underperforming readers requires early measures. Although teaching is not a complicated affair, it remains a challenge when handling extreme case which involves learners with reading comprehension problems.

In given instances, low levels of reading and comprehension prevent students from seeking further or higher education opportunities. Such a possibility would lead to many other problems to a society given that the skills are critical in developing a robust labor force. Thus, the problem would lead to the presence of poor human resources thus impeding economic growth and development. Behind this backdrop, the proposed study seeks to assess the problems in reading and comprehension skill among 11-13 years old students and the effective ways to address them.

Problem Statement

After considering the effect of reading comprehension skills, and the problems that are inherent in the learning process, exploring the needs of students regarding becoming proficient in reading comprehension still remains a major concern both to the academic fraternity and society. Students at the age of 11 to 13 are at a nascent stage in their educational development given that at such a phase, the students are expected to learn significant attributes that would are expected to guide their progress academically. In case, students are struggling at this stage, they are likely to continue doing so, in the future. Research has shown that critical concerns lie in high level reading comprehension skills. Similarly, sequencing story events is problematic among many students. In the absence of such skills, students are not likely to develop their reading skills. They are also at a disadvantage because they are entering a phase where teachers do not teach such skills as they are expected to have mastered them. Thus, there is a concern given that many students might not be well prepared for their next learning stage. The realization reaffirms the need to conduct an in-depth study to understand the challenges, and devise measures on how to overcome them.

Owing to the significance of education, many studies such as the one by Tilstra have focused on the topic under investigation. Such engagements have generated useful information necessary to understand the problem and inform strategies to overcome them. Despite the rich presence of such research, circumstances vary. In addition, problems change from time to time. In this, regard, it is necessary to bring clarity to the topic by conducting an empirical study.

Statement of Purpose

The proposed study seeks to explore problems involved in reading and comprehension skills among students aged 11 to 13 years, and effective methods to redress the situation. In order to understand the topic, the study will employ a qualitative case study method. Thus, the research will be based on the views of students (between the age of 11 and 13) and teachers for this group of learners. From the background, it is evident that reading and comprehension are critical skills that learners rely on in improving their academic performance. Additionally, such skills are pivotal for the success of the learners later, in their adult lives. Societies are also affected by the state of such skills given that they have an influence on the quality of the labor force. Despite the efforts to improve the skills among learners, problems persist. Thus, conducting a study to identify the challenges and measures to address them would be a timely endeavor.

Research Questions

In a bid to understand the problems involved in reading comprehension skills among students aged 11 to 13 years, and the effective approaches to solve them, the proposed study will be based on the following research questions. The main question is; what problems do children between the age of 11 and 13 encounter in reading comprehension. Secondly, the study will respond to the issue of appropriate responses to problems involved in reading comprehension. Thus, the question posed will be; what measures can be instituted to address the challenges. In the end, the research will identify the state of reading comprehension among students at the specified age bracket. Thus, the following are the research question:

1. What problems do children between the age of 11 and 13 encounters in reading comprehension 2. What measures can be developed to address the challenges 3. What is the state of reading comprehension among students between the ages of 11 and 13?

Research Hypothesis

The proposed study is premised on the idea that many factors pose a problem to reading comprehension among children aged between 11 and 13 years with a view to identifying remedial measures. Thus, the hypothesis of the study is that reading comprehension problems can be overcome through the employment of strategic teaching responses.

Significance of the Study

The impending study is significant in a number of ways. For instance, the role of education in the society underlies the value of conducting a research of this nature. As previously observed, the proposed study will address challenges affecting reading comprehension among children between the ages of 11 and 13. Consequently, the research will raise pertinent information about a given segment of the academic community. Focusing on such an early level of education is useful as it highlights problems that are likely to be manifested later in the society. It is also noted that young children constitute the bedrock of future generations. The group will contribute to economic performance when it will constitute the workforce. Thus, understanding factors that undermine their productivity is critical. The research will also explore measures that can be devised to address the problems. Hence, besides highlighting the challenges, the study will also contribute to the generation of ideas on improving education among low grade students.

Definitions of Terms

At this stage, reading and comprehension are the main terms. Proficient is the other word that is considered. Reading comprehension reflects the degree of understanding of a message or text. Thus, it is based on an interaction between written words and the knowledge they convey to an individual. Comprehension shows creativity as it is a multifaceted process that depends on various language skills (semantics, syntax, and pragmatics and phonology). Proficient reading rests on an individual’s ability to identify words effortlessly. Cognitive development is also a factor that influences reading comprehension proficiency. Whereas some individuals have the ability to learn through instruction, others do it through experience.

Various factors influence the extent to which an individual becomes successful in comprehending a text. For example, prior knowledge on a subject area, the degree of language development and the capacity to derive inferences play a significant role. It is also noted that having the capacity to monitor comprehension is a contributing factor. Self-correcting equally plays a role in the ability of an individual to learn and solve comprehension concerns.

Limitations and Delimitations

The proposed study will focus on the problems that, learners between the age of 11 and 13 encounter in reading comprehension and the identification of measures that can be instituted to redress them. Towards this end, it is acknowledged that various methods can be employed. The assessment will be based on the perceptions of the respondents about reading comprehension. One of the methods that can be used is self-examination (participants assessing themselves in relation to learning) while the other entails raters evaluating participants of the learning process. In the second case, raters can be subordinates or workers in senior or junior positions. The latter approach is better given that it is more objective than the other. The proposed study will employ the self-rating approach. Relying on the method is a limitation because it is affected by underreporting or over-reporting. To minimize the problem, the study will collect data from two sets of respondents to allow for cross-validation.

It is also acknowledged that limitations vary from material to methodical. Weaknesses are attributable to the methodology that a researcher uses to collect and analyze data. As also suggested, the study intends to employ the case study method. When using the approach, difficulties involving generalizing emerge. Case studies focus on specific cases. The limitation will come up when drawing conclusions. In particular, results relate to a specific case, individual, or group. Hence, it is difficult to extrapolate the case under investigation to the larger population. As a result, generalizing from the findings will be difficult. To overcome the limitation, I intend to compare study results to previous studies (literature).

It is also noted that using the method is subject to researcher bias. In particular, it is necessary to overcome subjectivity when recording events. In this regard, it is also observed that case studies rely on qualitative data which is largely descriptive. Hence, the interpretation of the data is critical. In order to delimit the subjectivity concern, working with peers to evaluate the data would be critical.

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