Matching Textbooks to their Readership: A case study of Government-Approved English Textbook for Basic Five

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One of the necessary requirements of all educational structures is the adequate supply of relevant reading and other supplementary materials for use by learners and teachers. The availability and access to good textbooks is very crucial towards building a strong foundation for basic education especially in developing countries like Ghana. However, for textbooks to perform their function effectively as a primary tool for learning, they should be readable and easily understood by their users. It is imperative to ensure that the language used in textbooks matches their readership because if pupils are frustrated by the text in a particular textbook, they are less likely to be motivated to continue reading that book, and this would adversely affect their academic performance too. Despite the fact that both reading and academic achievements are interconnected and dependent on each other, there has been a growing concern about the decline in reading among Ghanaian school pupils; and also statistics on candidates’ performance in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), has revealed a decline in the performance of students in English Language. This fuels the need to investigate what pupils at the basic level read to find out whether what have been recommended for them to read match them or not because what they read can influence their academic achievements. To encourage reading and make it more exciting for young readers in Ghana, and to also enhance the academic performance of pupils in English Language at the basic level, it is important to be mindful of the materials they are given to read in school. Based on this, the researcher sought to investigate the readability of government approved English textbook used by primary schools in Ghana. The researcher reviewed literature pertinent to the study. The mixed method design was used to provide both qualitative and quantitative dimensions to the study. Under the qualitative aspect, the researcher used the Flesch Reading Ease Formula to measure the readability level of the textbook iii purposively selected for the study (English Language for Primary Schools—Pupils Book 5, 2012 Edition); and the editor of the textbook was interviewed to investigate the major issues considered in order to ensure the textbook is readable to its targeted users. From the quantitative dimension too, a Cloze survey was used to ascertain how well the pupils who use the selected textbook understood what they read. A population of 292 basic five pupils from five selected schools in the Akuapem-South District was considered under the survey. The simple random sampling technique was used to sample 150 pupils for the Cloze test (survey), 30 from each school. The study revealed that the language used in the English textbook was above the grade level of most of its users; thus, the predicted grade level for the textbook did not match the pupils using it. The research also showed that though the editor of the selected textbook understood the need to ensure the language used in the textbook matches their readership and also knew how to achieve this, the textbook was difficult for the pupils to understand and most of them would have difficulties in reading it even with the assistance from their teachers. The researcher therefore, recommended that it is necessary to pay critical attention to what is recommended for pupils to read in schools. Authors and Editors also need to ensure that language used in textbooks matches their targeted readers; they could take advantage of new technologies to help them determine the readability levels of their publications. Also it is imperative for institutions in charge of the development of textbooks (Curriculum Research and Development Division, the Procurement Division, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, and the Ministry of Education) to be critical and have a particular interest in the readability levels of textbooks produced or recommended for pupils at various stages, in schools. i
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Publishing Studies, Faculty of Art, College of Art and Built Environment, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Art Publishing Studies.
Matching Textbooks to their Readership,, Government-Approved English Textbook,, Basic Five