The effects of headings and highlighted words on the recall performance of standard 7 pupils: a case study of Langata Division, Nairobi
Mwaniki, Elizabeth Wanjiku
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Poor academic performance is often attributed to many factors amongst them lack of mastery of particular subject skills, poor teaching, laziness among learners and poor reading habits. however, it is possible that poor performance in terms of recall of, learnt material could also be due to poor organization of instructional text that is presented to the learners. Many studies have recognized the importance of' text organization strategies such as headings, sub- headings, highlighting, summaries and previews in aiding recall. These studies have been done in Western countries and there is no local study that is readily available. This study therefore sought to establish whether the use of headings and highlighted words in instructional text enhances recall performance in learners and if so, to what extent`? The interaction of the two variables in enhancing, recall performance was also examined as well as sex differences in recall performance. This study was carried out in Nairobi with class 7 I)upils from two schools that were randomly drawn from Langata Division. A pre-test, post-test control group experimental design was employed. During the pre-test, the pupils read am English passage with no headings or highlighted words and immediately answered a 14 --item recall test. The post-test was given after a three week period whereby the same English text was read by the pupils in four groups. One group read the passage with headings. the second group with highlighted words, the thin( group with both headings and highlighted words and the fourth group without these. The same 14-item recall text was administered immediately. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data. Specifically the one-way ANOVA was used to determine whether the use of headings and highlighted words had a significant effect in enhancing recall performance of pupils. Twoway ANOVA was used to check for interaction effect of both strategies. A ttest was used to test whether there were significant sex differences in recall performance. The F test was used fen- testing whether the differences in the recall performance were significant or not and the Turkeys test was used to check where the differences in the groups lay. The study found out that the use of headings in a passage increased the recall performance of pupils significantly while the use of highlighted words did not. However, the combined use of the two strategies enhanced recall performance of pupils significantly. Regarding sex differences in recall performance due to the use of the two strategies, it was found out that there were significant sex differences clue to the use of headings and highlighted words with girls doing better than boys. When the two strategies were combined, no significant sex differences were found. These results go a long way in proving that the use of' organizational strategies such as headings and highlighted words do enhance recall in learners and should therefore be used by curriculum planners in instructional text for the benefit of learners.