Title

Active reading strategy to facilitate students' understanding of science concepts in a secondary science classroom of a community based school in Karachi, Pakistan

Date of Award

8-1-2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)

Department

Institute for Educational Development, Karachi

Abstract

Reading is not the strategy which is associated with language subjects. It is equally important in the area of Science as other strategies like hands-on and inquiry. Consequently, the access to Science content in terms of understanding is only possible when a reader has ability to actively read the text. Reading plays a very important role in strengthening the understanding of science language and vocabulary, as lack of awareness of both could be a hindrance in developing and demonstrating a conceptual understanding. This research study was conducted to understand ways to implement an active reading strategy DART (directed reading activities related to text) on students' understanding of science concepts. This was an action research study, in which DART was applied in a secondary Science classroom of a community-based school in Karachi, Pakistan to understand ways to apply DART for reading in the Science classes. The reconnaissance was done to see the use of reading in Science classes and data revealed that the science teacher as well as students do not consider reading in Science as effective as compared to activity base or hands-on teaching methods, they have not experienced reading in science classrooms; however, it was observed that hands-on promoted students reproduction of knowledge rather than construction of knowledge. These findings set up the basis of implementing active reading strategy DARTs in the context. My experience of the implementation of active reading strategy DARTs in a secondary science classroom, of a community-based English Medium Boys School in Pakistan, indicates that it was helpful in developing reflective reading and it challenged students to reflect on the text in terms of finding out key ideas, locating information, categorization and sequencing of the text. This reading strategy involved students in meaningful learning, where they understood content by reading, re-reading, interacting and reflecting on the text, hence an experience of reflective reading. The engagement of students in active reading of content, which was different and new from the concepts taught in the class, maintained their interest in reading and in learning new science vocabulary and its use in their expressions. The experience of new activities also helped them to maintain their interest and kept them motivated in the task. The DART activities facilitated students learning in comprehension of the text, location of information through underlining, categorizing of the text, sequencing of information, and summarizing text. It enabled them to learn at higher cognitive levels of comprehension, analysis and synthesis. The findings also suggest that it is important to provide a variety of reading text of appropriate length, supported with visuals and along with meaning of difficult vocabulary for active reading. However, as DART is a group work strategy, so it should be given in groups or pairs in order to gain from each others effort. Besides, reading in pair or groups also develops the element of trust building in students, as they have to be responsible about giving correct information to their peer about the text and this makes both peers careful about understanding of text in order to avoid giving wrong understanding to their peer. Although DART was found useful in pairs, its application with individual to promote independent reading and learning was equally useful. Moreover, the use of ART Model, an adaptation of EXIT Modeled consisting of Brainstorming, Questioning, Pair Discussion and Completion of activity sheet, based on active reading strategy was found to assist in implementation of DART. The DART reading strategy is beneficial in developing Science language and vocabulary, which is important for conceptual understanding. Hence, it implies that science teachers should facilitate their students in developing reading skills by providing opportunities for active reading, reading tasks should form an important part of all science classrooms, planned reading activities based on scientific texts should be developed and made available to teachers, and teacher education programs need to develop teachers' capacity in the design and implementation of active reading strategies DART. Moreover, this study was conducted in one secondary Science classroom in a community-based school in Karachi, Pakistan; the findings may have to be adapted for implementation in other school and levels.

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