Raising the Standard of Reading

GEMS Our Own English High School — Al Ain improves reading skills through innovative action research.

TeachersGEMS Our Own English High School — Al Ain initiated and action research project to improve reading levels. The subject and the setting of the research were the Grade 4 students of the primary school. Data on students’ reading levels, abilities and motivation were collected through teacher observations, anecdotal records, interviews, and by giving the students reading tests. The team of teachers reached their conclusions using both quantitative and qualitative data and accordingly planned a two-step process to address the issues that emerged. The first step focused on improvement by teaching reading strategies.

The second, following analysis, aimed to modify the reading curriculum and resources to adequately meet the needs of the learners. Crucial considerations included context, cultural differences, reading age, access to rich content, socio-economic backgrounds, and motivation. “It was overwhelming to see a gradual change in students’ attitude towards reading. The positive response from the students was very satisfying. The students were happy and interested in experimenting with different reading strategies which helped them attain better scores in external exams too,” said Ghazala Ghani, Teaching & Learning Co-Ordinator.

The team planned its investigation and then laid out a strategic path to achieve the desired improvements, and the result appeared as a small rise in reading outcomes. A second round achieved a much better result than before, which proved the classroom action research was worthwhile to both the students and the researchers.

“The project infused lessons with excitement and enthusiasm, students were involved in every step of the way which made them feel like they were a part of something important. Reading levels began to show gradual improvement, but the more obvious signs of impact were confidence, the willingness to learn new and unfamiliar words and the ability to skim and scan for information,” said Nisha Sadhasivan, Head of Student’s progress, English (Primary).

PROJECT RESULTS AFTER SIX MONTHS:

  • Extensive reading activities in lessons improved both the quality of the teaching and the learning process of reading, seen by the positive response from the students and external experts.
  • Students showed improved performance in the post-reading test. The comparison of pre- and post-tests results showed 40% of below average students moved to average and above average. There was a 16% improvement in above average readers.
  • The implementation of a reading calendar and specific activities successfully motivated the cohort and improved the students’ reading comprehension.