An analysis of learner-problems in the development of English language reading comprehension among secondary school students in Vihiga District Kenya
Wanjala, T. Thomas
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This study was undertaken with the aim of providing information on the levels of ability of the students of secondary schools on reading comprehension in English language in Vihiga District in Western Province of Kenya. It was meant to determine the factors that influence reading comprehension, the knowledge they have about reading comprehension skills, reading activities organized for their own reading development and problems they encounter in reading and answering questions in reading comprehension. Few studies have been carried out on the strategy students use to answer comprehension questions in English and comprehensions still present a number of problems to students at the KCSE level as evidenced in the final scores over the years. Vihiga district was selected for the study mainly because the schools from the district have consistently performed poorly in English at National examinations. The mode of answering questions in reading comprehension could be one of the factors contributing to this poor performance. In addition, the study investigated the relationship in performance between boys and girls in answering reading comprehension questions. A sample of six hundred and seventy eight (678) students and fifty (50) teachers in sixteen (16) randomly selected secondary schools were selected. Two main instruments were used in this study. The first was a reading comprehension passage for students to determine the problems they encounter. The second instrument was a teacher questionnaire to draw out some highlights about procedures and skills teachers use in teaching reading comprehension. The instruments were piloted and adjusted as necessary before the main study. The data from the main study was analyzed mainly using descriptive and basic statistics, which are the means, frequency distributions and percentages. The data was interpreted, discussed and recommendations made. The main findings from the study indicate that teachers experience limited reading materials in schools and this seems to impact on reading habits and competence of learner’s comprehension. The overall performance as the comprehension test was rather average and in terms of gender the boys (x=59.53%) performed slightly better than girls (x=56.56%). The comprehension skills showed varying performance. The skills on word reading, word context, multiple strings, making judgment and metaphor interpretation were performed better than those on literal abilities, inference and salient ideas. The students showed some potential and with adequate support in resources and instructional techniques there can be improvement. Some recommendations were made for further studies especially in the area of further exploration of other comprehension skills such as those associated with cloze tests.