Data Analysis Process
The process of journaling the reflection was simple as it entails note taking. As such, the researcher made observations throughout all the stages of the research process (Paulus, 1999). At each stage, the researcher used a notebook to detail the specifics of the progress as regards to the analysis of the findings of the research data collection process. Behavioral characteristics of students, the attitudes of students, the effectiveness of the intervention along with other observable features were noted down (Lee, Green, Johnson, & Nyguist, 2010; Paulus, 1999). In retrospect, the procedure for the reflective analysis was comprised of brainstorming episodes where the researcher took a special focus on the contents of the research paper by evaluating differences and similarities in an attempt to emerge with conclusions as pertains to various aspects of the research results as observed. The second aspect of the reflection preparation procedure involved the engagement of peers. As such, the researcher called upon a colleague to make observations during class sessions where interventions were applied and not applied. In each session, the observations made were jotted down by the researcher’s peer or colleague after which the researcher used the observations as objective entries that were incorporated into the peer reflective journal (Nicholas & Gordon, 2011; Merriam, 1998). As such, the reflective journal offers a pristine environment for the development of positive criticism towards the advances of the research topic as associated with the evaluation of the research results (Lee et al., 2010). In that esteem, the researcher’s evaluation of independent opinions that reflect the observations of a third party about the research trajectory gives the paper a more objective approach towards the analysis of the research results.
The stages of the research process included four stages that can be summed as Pre-test stage, Intervention stage 1, Intervention stage 2, and Post-test stage. The four stages were completed under the supervision and direction of the researcher. During each stage, an independent observer sat in class to make notes about their opinions as relates to the developments in the research. Equally, the researcher jotted down her own notes as regards the research data collection process and made strategic observations, recommendations for improvement, and points that denote success factors. The evaluation of the process of research data collection methods meant that the study results were thoroughly reviewed for an examination of influencing factors that may be beyond the limits of the research. Further, the reflective journal served to expound the study’s scope by evaluating the effectiveness of the data collection methods and revealing weaknesses that need improvement in future research. More importantly, the reflection served as an avenue for reducing the margin of error by facilitating improvements in knowledge development in regards to the relationships between research variables.
During the first stage, the behavioral traits of students, based on attitudes regarding the test were evaluated, in relation to the statistical results realized from the outcome of the test. The researcher’s own observations were jotted down and compared to journal entries from colleagues. The same procedure was replicated for the preparation of the reflective journal for entries in the second, third and fourth stages of the data collection process. The researcher then compared overall data presented in the journal entries for an analysis of pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses as associated with individual and collective observations detailed in the reflective journal. Ultimately, a comprehensive analysis of the contents of the peer reflective journal was meant to provide an objective opinion as pertains to the results of the study.
(a) Stage 1
Observations made by peer observer aligned with the researcher’s own observations given the dismal performance among the majority of the students in the pre-test exam. As such, the peer observed difficulty in reading and comprehension of text similar to the journal entries recorded by the researcher as pertains to the ability of the learners in reading and understanding English texts. Consistent with the findings of the peer reviewer, the researcher noted that students were greatly affected by their mother tongue when it came to the comprehension of the English Language. In more occasions than one, the researcher needed to explain concepts as pertains to the readings at hand in the Malay Language despite the fact that the test was in English. Dependence on mother tongue language is viewed as an impediment to the progress of the learners in improving their English Language skills. Moreover, the observations made also sought to develop knowledge on the strengths of the students. As such, the reflections revealed that a relative minority of students who has self-drive and were self-motivated towards achieving high marks in the exam performed excellently.
On the contrary, students who were not self-driven towards aiming for success in the tests performed dismally in the pre-test exam. The observations made in the reflective journal proved essentially crucial to the development of knowledge and understanding of underlying factors that influence the performance of the students regardless of their individual abilities to read and comprehend English texts. The observations proved critical to the development of knowledge and understanding on the margins of error that may exist in the data collection process. More so, the results of reflective journal observations in the first stage offer a profound analysis of the success factors achieved, other than revealing loopholes for improvement in future applications of the same research activity. In this regard, student motivation, efficacy, and drive manifest as factors for consideration.
A review of the quantitative results yielded from the pre-test was as follows; the mean for the pretest was 2.44 where the majority of the students who participated got between one and three questions right. As such, 32% of the students managed to get three questions correct representing a total of 8 students while only one student got all five questions correct which is representative of only four percent of the student body. The quantitative results are indicative of the observations made and entered into the reflective journals by the researcher and independent observer. In either case, it was apparent that the students were overall weak in reading and comprehension skills. The findings of the pre-test, therefore, reveal weaknesses in the pupil’s ability to read and understand written texts which then begs the question on whether the use of reading cues would do much in improving their abilities.
(b) Stage 2
During the second stage of the research process, the implementation of the intervention took place. At this stage, participants were treated to reading and comprehension passage where the premise of the researcher and the peer evaluator was to observe the reactions of the students during the whole process. The intervention proved effective in the sense that it revealed various attributes associated with the reception of scaffolding by the students. What is more, the observation also revealed how the students were capable of utilizing the activity in improving their reading and comprehension skills. Equally, the process also revealed difficulties that some of the students encountered while attempting to apply the scaffolds to the comprehension of the reading. The observations entered into the reflective journal reveals reluctance on the part of the students who are generally sharp or bright students. As such, scaffolding seemed to them as an unnecessary activity towards understanding the content and context of the reading.
On the contrary, the findings also indicated that students who showed difficulty in reading and comprehension during the pre-test found that reading using scaffolding enhanced their ability to understand the text. Further, the preliminary results based on an evaluation of the comprehension of the class on the reading was such that a majority of the classmates were more capable of understanding concepts in the reading. Hence, both the researcher and the independent observer noted an improvement in the reading and comprehension skills of the students after scaffolding was introduced. The implications of the findings based on the observations entered into the reflective journal of the research report support the fact that the art of scaffolding proves effective in aiding learning among students with difficulties.
Consistent with the quantitative findings yielded, the intervention served to improve the reading and comprehension skills of the students. Compared to the pre-test results the first intervention resulted in more students getting more than two questions right. Compared to the pre-test results 32% of the participants got two questions right as compared to 28% of respondents who got two questions right during the pre-test. The results were similar for a number of questions correctly answered by a student where small but significant improvements were noted in the number of students who found the intervention helpful in better understanding the text that they read.
(c) Stage 3
The entries in the reflection journal as regards to the third stage of the data collection process seemed to coincide with the results traits observed in the previous stage 2 of the research process. Nonetheless, few alterations existed that incorporate among other issues the fact that students who found scaffolds helpful while reading the second passage in stage two, immediately noted the importance of reading cues. The reading cues were also of importance in identifying themes and developing a concept for understanding the passage. The WH questions at the edge of the readings allowed students to memorize various aspects of the passage which remained fresh in their minds even after completing the reading and spending some time engaging with the instructor through a question and answer session that relates to the reading.
As such, observations made by the independent observer along with the evaluation made by the researcher herself, both came to the conclusion that the second reading was characteristic of better performance than the one in activity two or stage two. To that extent, the journal entries reveal that the stage two process proved to be a primer for the stage three process. In other words, the reading in stage two created expectations and enhanced familiarity with which the participants used to engage with the reading. Consequently, the culmination of the reading by the participants in the second stage provided them with an introduction to reading cues which the students found helpful. Hence, in line with expectations, the students found that reading cues make comprehension and learning easier given that they aid in the development of knowledge about the text other than improving their level of understanding of the readings. For that reason, the third stage is broadly used as an affirmation stage to evaluate whether or not students understand the value of reading cues and whether they can apply them as appropriate.
The quantitative results of the second activity also supported the evidence of the usefulness of the intervention used where it was depictive of the fact that the intervention proves useful in improving learning and reading skills. In that esteem, the results showed that none of the students only answered one question correct an indication that the reading cues drastically improved the comprehension skills of the students. Hence, as regards to the research questions, the findings on the impacts of the intervention shows that the use of reading cues is an effective means of imparting comprehension skills to learners of English as a Second Language.
(d) Stage 4
The final stage of the data collection process entailed the presentation of a final exam or post-test that followed the administration of the intervention as presented in stages 2 and three above. The purpose of the post-test was to evaluate the knowledge and skill gain among students as relates to the reading and comprehension of English texts by the students. In this stage, the aim of the research was to answer the research question that sought to evaluate the usefulness of reading cues in enhancing knowledge and understanding of the English Language among students of English as a Second Language. The observation made by the researcher and entered into the reflective journal coincide with the research’s alternative hypothesis that advocates a positive relationship between the use of reading cues and improved performance of students in terms of knowledge and understanding of English Language. Consequently, the peer evaluator also made the observation that aligns with those of the researcher as pertains to the knowledge and skill gain observed in students after the application of the intervention. The reports show that students who were previously hard of comprehension as pertains to reading passages in English text were able to adjust immediately and record improvements in their understanding once the intervention of scaffolding using reading cues was implemented. The results of the fourth stage observations reveal that scaffolding using reading cues is an effective and promising intervention mechanism for teaching English to English as Second Language learners. Moreover, the application of the reading cues scaffold to year five students in Malaysia proved that the replication of the intervention in various years of study has the overall influence of improving knowledge and comprehension of the English language among Malaysian students.
The statistics on the performance of the students on the post-test shows a tremendous and almost miraculous gain of knowledge and skill in reading and comprehension among the students. The findings indicate that the students were capable of making gains in their ability to read and understand the text by answering questions correctly. The results of the post-test as compared to the pre-test was such that a mean score of 2.44 and 4.08 was attained in the case of the pre-test and post-test respectively. An estimated improvement of up to 50% was realized in the performance of the students. The results indicate the potential that reading cues can have as pertains to the improvement of reading and comprehension skills of the students if repeatedly applied over time.
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