Vol. 27 (2020): Special Issue: Action Research
Articles

Improving Literacy in Secondary School Geography

Aileen Rampersad
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Shahiba Ali
School of Education, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine
Bio
Nafeesa Ali
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Published 2020-12-30

Keywords

  • Audience-centred Teaching,
  • Frayer model,
  • Learning Logs,
  • Action Research,
  • Literacy Strategies for Geography

Abstract

The aim of this research was to find the extent to which the literacy levels in reading comprehension of students entering a secondary school with low levels of reading and writing, would improve through content enhancement to aid in their cognitive development. The research was conducted in a secondary school in an educational district in Trinidad and Tobago that has one of the lowest primary school performance in the country. Form 1 Geography students at the secondary school, aged 11-13, expressed frustration in understanding geographical terms and concepts, thereby preventing them becoming proficient in the subject. They felt that teachers should help them understand the complex jargon in the subject.  The Qualitative Reading Inventory-4 (QRI-4) diagnostic test was conducted prior to the intervention, to assess literacy levels for grade levels 4-6. Results from the diagnostic test indicated that the students’ literacy level was below grade 7, which is the required level for Form 1. An action research approach, using three literacy strategies, namely, the Frayer Model, Audience-Centred teaching and Learning Logs, were implemented as the intervention during and at the end of each lesson over five weeks. Numerical and non-numerical data on students’ performance and attitude to reading were collected and analysed. Overall, students improved in their reading comprehension, which resulted in an elevated level of writing through Audience-Centred Teaching, advancement in vocabulary use with the Frayer model, and student self-reflection by using Learning Logs. They made connections between text in the lesson, other subjects and their real life.  They were also more engaged in class as they began to read, write and construct meaning in Geography. The main implication of this study is that all teachers should consider integrating literacy strategies within their classroom practice to assist their students in becoming proficient in reading comprehension.