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Reading Comprehension Instruction of Effective Grades 5 and 6 Saint Lucian Teachers

This study set out primarily to investigate the nature of reading comprehension instruction in Saint Lucia, and to examine the explanations of teachers with regard to the factors that they perceive contribute to Grade 6 students' failure in the main idea comprehension test in the national Common Entrance Examination in Saint Lucia. Four effective Grades 5 and 6 teachers (two per grade) from two Saint Lucian primary schools participated in a total of four individual semi-structured interviews and were observed in their regularly scheduled reading comprehension lessons. A total of 27 lessons were observed and audio tape-recorded to examine the nature of reading comprehension instruction in the classrooms. From this cohort of lessons, a sample of 16 lessons was randomly selected and transcribed to determine the presence of direct instruction in comprehension strategies, and the quality of instruction that took place. This quality was measured and described in terms of the elements of the Direct Instruction Model (Pearson Dole, 1987), the nature of questioning, and time allotted to instruction. This data was also used to make comparisons between Grades 5 and 6 classes. The results show that the four teachers perceived that there are four areas of blame for students' poor performance in reading comprehension: the teacher's inability to instruct, the students' poor decoding and comprehension abilities, the inadequacy of the main idea test, and the teaching materials available for teaching comprehension. However, the main factor perceived by teachers as contributing to the students' poor performance is teachers' inability to instruct. Nonetheless, the observation of the Grades 5 and 6 effective teachers' reading comprehension lessons showed that these teachers were indeed teaching a number of comprehension strategies. They relied predominantly on the question answering strategy in all their lessons which was mainly taught in combination with other strategies. However, it was the teaching of summarization through the main idea that was the dominant strategy more explicitly taught in 7 of the 16 lessons observed, appearing more frequently in the Grade 6 classes. An assessment of the quality of the reading comprehension instruction revealed that 11 of1 6 lessons, included all the four elements of direct instruction, and were rated as 'excellent' in quality. None of the lessons had fewer than two elements identified on the model. An assessment of the types of questions asked also showed that questioning was used both for the purpose of assessment and as an instructional strategy. The timing of the lessons support the quality of instruction, as 90% of the total time observed was allotted to instruction. The greater portion of that time went to guided practice (38%) and independent practice (33%) of reading comprehension strategies. This study shows that explicit comprehension instruction of strategies is evident in the reading comprehension classes of the 4 effective Saint Lucian Grades 5 and 6 teachers. It is therefore recommended that educational officials ensure that similar practices are maintained in other Saint Lucian classes, that the reading comprehension instruction practices of a wider cross section of Saint Lucian teachers be examined, and that future research looks into other probable causes of students' failure on the main idea comprehension test.
Type of thesis
Sargusingh-Terrance, L. M. (2008). Reading Comprehension Instruction of Effective Grades 5 and 6 Saint Lucian Teachers (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2506
The University of Waikato
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