Title page for ETD etd-08292012-115924

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Stols, Jeanette
Email jennie.stols@gmail.com
URN etd-08292012-115924
Document Title The role of comprehension strategy practices in reading literacy achievement of Grade 4 and 5 learners
Degree MEd
Department Science, Mathematics and Technology Education
Advisor Name Title
Prof S Howie Co-Supervisor
Dr S van Staden Supervisor
  • high performing primary school
  • South African Progress in International Literacy
  • reading comprehension practice
  • learners’ reading literacy achievement
  • identifying main ideas
  • making inferences
  • reading comprehension strategies
  • profile of Afrikaans teachers
Date 2012-04-18
Availability unrestricted
What is the role of reading comprehension strategy practices in Grades 4 and 5 learners’ reading literacy achievement in the South African Progress in International Literacy (PIRLS) 2006 study? Herein lies the main question of this study.

South Africa’s participation and perpetually poor performance in more than one international study highlights literacy as a serious problem in South Africa. The results of literacy studies such as SACMEQ II 2000, the 1999 MLA study, and in particular, the South African PIRLS 2006 study, revealed the predicament in which South African primary education finds itself. The results of these studies emphasise the consistently poor reading literacy achievement by South African primary school learners.

The findings that emanated from the South African Progress in International Literacy (PIRLS) 2006 study, showed considerable differences between the various groups of learners in South Africa. The following examples will indicate the differences in reading literacy achievement. The South African Grade 4 learners achieved an average score of 253 (SE=4.6). The Grade 5 learners achieved an average score of 302 (SE=5.6). Both these scores fall far below the fixed international average of 500 (Howie et al. 2007, p. 23). However, in an analysis of the eleven official languages in the PIRLS 2006 study, learners from the Afrikaans language group achieved the highest scores with the Grade 5 girls achieving an average of 427 (SE=11.6).

The aim of the study was to identify the effective reading comprehension strategies used at a primary school where the highest scores in South Africa were achieved, then to determine the role that reading comprehension strategies played in literacy achievement as uncovered in the PIRLS 2006 study. This research was conducted at an Afrikaans speaking school in Gauteng where the learners achieved the highest scores in PIRLS 2006.

Based on a review of the literature, the study focused on five reading comprehension strategies, namely, identifying main ideas; making inferences; questioning; mental imagery and summarising. These reading comprehension strategies were underpinned by the processes of comprehension outlined for PIRLS 2006 and the PIRLS 2006 model of Contexts for the Development of Reading Literacy was used as a conceptual framework for this study.

A profile of Afrikaans Grade 4 and 5 teachers was compiled based on the analysis of the PIRLS 2006 Afrikaans teacher questionnaire data. Teacher profiles consisted of teachers’ biographical information such as age and gender, and their academic and professional background.

The practice of reading comprehension strategies was tested on data from a case study of one Grade 4 and one Grade 5 Afrikaans teacher. The findings of the study showed that the use of teaching reading comprehension strategies are essential for learners to achieve any standard of reading literacy. A high standard of reading literacy mainly stems from teachers who perform reading comprehension strategy practices that will mirror the orchestration of instructional strategy activities and comprehension assessment activities. It appears that effective teachers of reading comprehension operate as conductors to guide learners during the reading comprehension process into a constant reader-text-activity dynamic, which enables readers to bring vocabulary and strategy knowledge to the act of reading. The role that reading comprehension strategy practice plays on learners’ reading literacy achievement is illustrated in PIRLS 2006.

Copyright © 2011, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Stols, J 2011, The role of comprehension strategy practices in reading literacy achievement of Grade 4 and 5 learners, MEd dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-08292012-115924 / >

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