An analysis of the vocabulary and reading comprehension challenges faced by first year B.Ed. students
Martens, Catharina Elisabeth
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First year students at university level encounter various challenges that might impact on their success or failure. At this level, learning is fairly dependent on extensive and intensive reading, thus the reader should have an adequate vocabulary size to assist with the reading comprehension process. Knowledge of vocabulary (or words) is deemed an essential factor in reading proficiency, mainly because meaning is derived from words and also because of the connection between words and comprehension of text. This study investigated the particular relationship among vocabulary size and vocabulary depth and reading comprehension of 105 first year B.Ed. students majoring in English at a university in the North West Province. Also, the vocabulary test results of two different groups, first and fourth years, were compared to determine if advancement of vocabulary levels occur over the study period of four years. A quantitative research approach was used in which the study population was required to complete standardised vocabulary size and vocabulary depth tests, reading comprehension tests and a survey questionnaire. The results were statistically computed to determine the relationship between vocabulary size and breadth and reading comprehension. The results showed a positive and significant effect size correlation between vocabulary size and depth, and reading comprehension. The participants in the study were mainly Afrikaans speaking students who received their school education in Afrikaans. The instruments used in the research were the Vocabulary Levels test (Nation, 1990), Read’s Word Associates Test (1992) and TOEFL reading comprehension tests. The questionnaire was added to determine previous exposure to English and current reading habits of the participants. A two-tailed Pearson product moment correlation and multiple regression analyses were run in order to determine which of the variables, vocabulary size or depth, makes a more significant contribution to reading comprehension and also to establish which variable was the most significant predictor of academic success in the June examination. Vocabulary size was identified as predictor for success in the June examination; furthermore, if gender is used as independent variable, different vocabulary size tests are identified for males and females.
- Education