n Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies - Influence of background knowledge on reading comprehension ability in Kenyan secondary schools

Volume 5, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 2141-6990
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Reading is a basic skill in the education system and the society because it is a precision to most subjects offered in the school curriculum. If students do not understand what they read, they will struggle to cope with the demand for reading in all academic disciplines, thus leading to poor academic results. This study therefore was carried out to investigate the influence of background knowledge of learners on reading comprehension ability in secondary school. The objective of this study was to establish if learners relate their background knowledge to what they read that hinders comprehension. The study was based on descriptive survey design focusing on Form three secondary school learners of Kisumu County in Kenya. Two hundred and fifty six students were sampled through systematic random sampling from a population of 855 Form three students in 16 secondary schools. Data was collected by means of classroom observation and students' questionnaire. Data analysis revealed that learners' background knowledge and low linguistic proficiency hindered their comprehension ability. The study concluded that background knowledge (schemata) had significant influence on reading comprehension ability. The study recommends that since learners have different schemata, instruction should be given to activate background knowledge in all areas (language, content and formal), before embarking on the reading process. The study also recommends that learners need to build their schemata by reading extensively in order to familiarize themselves with different text types and a variety of language.

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