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    J.O. Oyundoyin Department of Special Education

    University of Ibadan

    Y. O. Bolaji Federal College of Education (Special)

    Oyo Abstract English reading comprehension has posed a very serious challenge to pupils with intellectual disability; so in order to proffer solution, the writer examines the efficacy of mnemonic and direct instructional strategies on reading comprehension performance among pupils with mild intellectual disability in Ibadan, Nigeria. The study was carried out in three special schools in Ibadan involving thirty participants (fifteen male and fifteen female). Pre-test, Post-test, Quasi experimental design was used and the findings were that, both mnemonic and direct instructional strategies were effective but direct instructional strategy was more effective. Also, female participants performed better than their male counterparts. Lastly, it was recommended and concluded that, the two methods can be used in correcting poor reading comprehension performance among the normal children; parents and teachers should encourage pupils with intellectual disability to engage in activities that will accommodate reading comprehension performance. Introduction The most common acutely defining characteristics of pupils with intellectual disability is impaired cognitive ability. This trait has pervasive effect on them, whether the disability is mild or severe. It makes simple tasks difficult to learn. It can interfere with communicative competence, because the content of the message is harder to comprehend. It influences how well one can remember and how flexible one is in the application of knowledge and skills already

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    learned. Ultimately, the degree of cognitive impairment determines the types of curriculum content these individuals are taught: academic or life skills (daily or functional skills). Learning new skills, storing and retrieving information (memory), and transferring knowledge to either new situations or slightly different skills are challenges for pupils with intellectual disability. Memory – which could be short or long term is often impaired. The pupils may also have problem with long-term memory in finding it difficult to remember events, proper sequence of events, particularly when the events are not clearly identified as important. Even when event is remembered, it may be remembered incorrectly, inefficiently, too slowly, or not in adequate detail. Teachers can assist pupils with intellectual disability in developing memory strategies and help them compensate for their lack of abilities in this area (reading comprehension performance) and in many ways. One characteristic of pupils with intellectual disability is that they are frequently less able than their peers to acquire knowledge through incidental learning, that is, to acquire learning as an unplanned result of their ordinary daily experiences. Among the learning tasks to be learned is English reading comprehension. Frequent problem in reading comprehension is often observed in pupils with intellectual disability which is likely to be part of a psychoneurosis, or primary behaviour problem. The act of reading is so complex that it is influenced by many factors such as interest of the child, age, mental ability, availability of instructional materials etc. National Reading Panel (2000) considered reading to be the most important area of educational skills, because reading is needed in other subject areas, such as social studies, sciences, vocational-education and for a successful employment. Anderson and Pearson (1984) explained that reading entails understanding the text which depends on active engagement and interpretation by the reader. Understanding is influenced by both the text and the readers’ prior knowledge. In discussing reading comprehension, the ability of the reader is to understand the code used in written communication in order to be able to translate the graphic symbols into meaningful sounds. Comprehension process entails ongoing translations between a text, the reader, and the author and the active use of comprehension strategies such as predicting, activating background knowledge, asking

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    questions, clarifying, and checking for understanding. Comprehension is enhanced when reading materials is in form of interesting stories which is read to the learner. The child listens and becomes involved. He/she is encouraged to find experiences in the story that are similar to his/her own experiences. The following were identified as necessary skills to be acquired before comprehension can take place: word recognition, surface meaning, reading to answer question correctly, reading for implied meaning, reading for relationship of thoughts, faster reading and intensive or extensive reading (Akinrinade & Ajobiewe, 1996). The widely held views of most special educators is that the most important aspects of reading comprehension for pupils with intellectual disability is to teach them things which are related to their needs in their daily contact in school, home and community. In other words, reading comprehension for them should be an integral part of the whole curriculum and be purposeful.

    In planning education for pupils with mild intellectual disability, consideration must be taken in the area of learning new tasks slowly. They need extra opportunity to practice before they carry out the exercise quickly. Learning should be concretely based on practical experience and be related to everyday life. All teachings must be from the known to the unknown, from concrete to abstract, from simple to complex etc. Also, they are often found having problem of paying attention to stimulus. Thus, they find it difficult to use abstraction in solving problems. Parts of instructional strategies that can be used are modelling, shaping, reinforcement, mnemonic, peer-teaching, phonic method, extinction, individualization, self-instruction to mention a few.

    Research suggests that these pupils also have difficulty with meta-memory that is, awareness of memory strategies and the ability to use and monitor these strategies in that they have trouble with one or more of the followings:

    - Knowing, selecting and using appropriate strategies - Estimating their own memory capacity for specific tasks - Predicting accuracy on a memory task - Allotting appropriate time to study - Deciding when they have studied enough (Hughes, 1996)

  • 68 Efficacy of Mnemonic and …

    Statement of the Problem English reading comprehension has posed a very serious challenge to pupils of all ages including the so called regular children in schools and this no doubt has generated a serious concern to teachers, curriculum planners and other researchers. However, the researcher is of the opinion that if the so called regular pupils are consistently experiencing difficulty in learning English reading comprehension, how much more, pupils with intellectual disability due to limitation in their intellectual functioning.

    So many interventions had been adopted by so many scholars such as phonic method, peer teaching, individualization, whole-word approach, modeling, shaping, self-instruction etc. They all had worthwhile results, but the researcher would want to use mnemonic and direct instructional strategies in the enhancement of reading comprehension performance among pupils with mild intellectual disability. Hypotheses The following null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance. H01: There is no significant main effect of treatment on reading

    comprehension performance among pupils with mild intellectual disability.

    H02: There is no significant main effect of gender on reading comprehension performance among pupils with mild intellectual disability.

    H03: There is no significant interaction effect of treatment and gender on reading comprehension performance among pupils with mild intellectual disability.

    Review of Literature Relevant studies were reviewed to guide the study. Concept of intellectual disability Intellectual disability is a complex condition worthy of close study. Essentially, intellectual disability is a cognitive disability that affects the way individuals who have it adapt to and cope with the various environments in which they find themselves. This condition is manifested by difficulties in intellectual functioning and in the performance of everyday types of behaviour that would be expected of

  • J.O. Oyundoyin & Y. O. Bolaji 69

    a person of similar age and from same cultural background. Luckasson, Borthwick-Duffy, Buntinx, Coulter, Ellis, Reeve,

    Schalock, Snell, Spitalink, Spreate, & Tasse, (2002), described intellectual disability as a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behaviour as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical skills. This disability originates before age 18. The new definition signaled many significant changes from its predecessors as it is much more functional in nature. It stressed the interaction among three major dimensions: a person’s capabilities; the environments in which the person functions; and the need for varyin