An examination of the effectiveness of a digital tool as an intervention measure to improve the reading comprehension skills of high school learners

Brand, Irene (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2012-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The current level of literacy in South Africa is cause for concern. The Annual National Assessment of Literacy and Numeracy, conducted nationally by the National Department of Education of South Africa, shows that only 28% of Grade 3 learners and 35% of Grade 6 learners passed these tests in 2011 (Department of Basic Education (a), 2011). According to the policy on progression and promotion issued by the National Department of Education, learners may only be retained once in a phase, which means that these learners may lack essential academic literacy skills when they reach high school. The main concern addressed in this thesis is whether high school teachers can help improve academic literacy by using reading comprehension software, like Reading Rocket, as an intervention tool to help learners who struggle with reading comprehension, and whether Reading Rocket is in fact an effective program to use for such purposes. This study was conducted by using data from one school within the Western Cape which has been using Reading Rocket for the past three years. Use of the program forms part of their timetable, and Grade 8 and 9 learners spend twice per cycle working with the program. Learners are first tested on entering Grade 8 and group reports are retrieved from the program each term to monitor their progress. These reports give a summary of the reading level, the percentage gained in the reading exercises, reading speed in w.p.m and a spelling score in percentage. This data was used to compile a summary of the results obtained over six terms Term 1 2010 until Term 3 2011. These results were compared with quarterly classroom (paper‐based) comprehension and language tests in order to determine is a correlation between the program data and the paper‐based test data. There is no control group for this study as all the Grade 8 and 9 learners use the program. There is no conclusive evidence that the program is an effective intervention tool, but findings show a positive correlation between program data and paper‐based test data which indicates that the program may be used as a tool to determine on what grade level learners read. Given the numerous responsibilities and duties of teachers, it is essential that they are given an effective measuring tool for literacy and because computer software is essentially objective and time‐effective in provide results, using computer technology for such purposes may be part of a solution to improve literacy in South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die huidige toestand van geletterdheid in Suid‐Afrika is kommerwekkend. Resultate in 2011 van die jaarlikse nasionale assesseringstoetse vir geletterdheid en gesyferdheid wat nasionaal deur die Nasionale Onderwysdepartement gedoen word, wys dat net 28% van Graad 3‐leerders en 35% van Graad 6‐leerders hierdie toetse slaag (Department of Basic Education (a), 2011). Volgens die beleid van progressie en promosie van die Nasionale Onderwysdepartement mag leerders net eenkeer in ‚n schoolfase agtergehou word wat beteken dat bogenoemde leerders dalk nie die geleentheid het om voldoende te verbeter voordat hulle die hoërskoolfases betree nie. Die hoofkwessie wat in hierdie tesis aangespreek word is of hoërskoolonderwysers rekenaar sagteware soos Reading Rocket as ʼn intervensie metode kan gebruik om leerders se akademiese leesbegrip te verbeter, en of Reading Rocket wel ʼn effektiewe intervensiemiddel is. ʼn Studie is gedoen deur die data van een skool in die Wes‐Kaap te gebruik wat Reading Rocket al vir die afgelope drie jaar gebruik. Dit vorm deel van hulle skoolrooster en graad 8 en 9‐leerders spandeer twee keer per siklus aan die program. Groepverslae wat deur die program opgedateer word elke kwartaal getrek om progressie te monitor. Die verslae bevat ʼn opsomming van die leerders se leesvlak, leesbegrip in persentasie, leesspoed in w.p.m en ʼn persentasie vir spelling. Hierdie data is gebruik om ‘n opsomming saam te stel van die resultate oor ses kwartale (kwartaal 1 2010 tot kwartaal 3 2011). Die programresultate is vergelyk met resultate van klaskamer (papiergebaseerde) begripstoetse en eksamens wat hulle vir dieselfde kwartale geskryf het. Omdat al die graad 8 en 9‐leerders aan die program blootgestel word, is daar nie ʼn kontrolegroep vir die studie nie. Daar is nie konkrete bewys dat die program ʼn effektiewe intervensiemiddel is nie, maar statistieke wys wel dat daar ʼn positiewe korrelasie tussen die programdata en die papiergebasseerde data is en daarom word die gevolgtrekking gemaak dat die program wel as ʼn instrument kan gebruik word om die leerders se leesbegrip op enige stadium van die jaar te toets. Weens vele verantwoordelikhede is dit essensieel dat onderwysers ʼn effektiewe metingsinstrument vir leesbegrip tot hulle beskikking het. Omdat rekenaarsagteware soos Reading Rocket tydbesparend en objektief in die voorsiening van resultate is, mag die gebruik van sulke tegnologie deel van ʼn plan vorm om geletterdheidsvlakke in Suid‐Afrika te verbeter.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20081
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