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McGrath, Ian
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Reading comprehension is often seen by Singaporean primary school teachers as one of the most challenging areas to teach and learn in the English syllabus. Students find texts challenging and, being unable to answer the questions, lose interest in reading comprehension. As a result, low scores are obtained, and motivation levels are correspondingly low.

In my school, teachers have attempted to use techniques such as mind mapping, drawing, summarizing, Directed Reading Thinking Activity (DRTA), in the hope of motivating students. There has not been a significant improvement in motivation or academic scores.

Instead of focusing on the method of instruction, this study focused on whether involvement in the design of the learning material could help to motivate pupils. More specifically, it investigated whether involving pupils in a series of material- designing activities could bring about an increase in pupil motivation and an improvement in comprehension scores. The study also sought to assess the different benefits and effects of four different types of learner-designed materials.

The participant sample consisted of 80 pupils from 2 Primary 5 classes in a neighbourhood school in Singapore of different races (Chinese, Malays & Indians) and different levels of ability. One class (Class A), the control group, completed comprehension tasks in the traditional way while another class (Class B), the experimental group, was involved in a series of material-designing activities.

Both quantitative and qualitative data was obtained by means of preintervention and post- intervention comprehension tests, survey questionnaires and small group interviews. The survey questionnaires were based on Keller’s (1983) ARCS Model of Motivational Design and the Academic Motivation Scale developed by Vallerand, Pelletier, Blais, Brière, Senécal, & Vallières (1992) and Deci & Ryan (1985; 2000).

The findings revealed that the experimental class (Group B) had greater motivation after engaging in the series of material-designing activities and achieved higher academic scores in the post-study comprehension test. Pupils responded more positively and showed a stronger preference for Material Design Activities 2 and 3 in which they had greater freedom in creating their own learning materials and designing questions based on these sources.

The study has important educational implications for educators. The introduction of learner-generated materials in the classroom promotes learner-centredness and encourages learners to learn actively and independently. It also offers new ideas and insights to make comprehension lessons fun and effective.

The study also has other broader implications within the context of the Singapore education system. Giving learners an opportunity to create their own learning materials and to learn from each other is in line with the aims of the Singapore curriculum in bringing ‘flexibility and diversity’ in education, incorporating a ‘broad-based, holistic education’ and a means by which educators can ‘teach less’ and learners ‘learn more’.
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LB1050.45 Nur
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Appears in Collections:Master of Education

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