2.1 Review of Theoretical Literature
2.1.1 Reading Comprehension
As we know that reading is one of the receptive language skill in which students read some reading text and get information about the concerned subject matter. Whereas reading comprehension refers to the state of having knowledge of subject matter. Hornby (1996, p. 132) defines comprehension as ` The ability to understand and an exercise that trains students to understand a language`. According to Wikipedia, reading comprehension is defined as `a level of understanding which comes from the interaction between the words that were written and how they trigger knowledge outside the text message`.
According to (Grellet, 1995, p.33) Reading comprehension is interpreted as `extracting the required information from a written text as efficiently as possible`. It is generally accepted that reading is the most essential activity of the learners for EFL classes. Reading comprehension is pervasive and complex which is difficult to cope with what reading is composed of and what is necessary to develop this ability in a learner. In the words of Davies (1974, p.185), `Reading comprehension is a process of analysis of receiving message from as written text`.
By the reading comprehension ability we can judge the students reading comprehension capacity and find out how well the learners grasp the subject matter.
2.1.2 Testing Reading Comprehension
While testing reading comprehension we need to test sub-skills or reading. Testing of reading starts right from recognizing the script of a language to complex reading like understanding conceptual meaning, understanding the communicative values of sentences, understanding the relations within the sentences, understanding relation between the parts of a text through lexical and grammatical cohesive devices. Testing reading in general is testing of reading comprehension but specifically testing reading refers to testing of all the components of reading skills. Reading varies according to the purpose of reading and the types of the text. It also depends on level of the learners. According to Cross (1992 p.255), `The purposes of reading were: for pleasure (novel), information (a railway schedule, a newspaper), knowledge (a scholarly journal or book), curiosity (guide book), need satisfaction (instruction for a new machine) and so on`.
For testing of reading, different techniques have been suggested. The learners will be required to read a text or diagram or picture. The quality of text depends on selection of text. Techniques of testing can have different forms. For example, multiple choice, true-false, fill in the gaps, c-test, short answer question, rearrangements, matching items, etc. Testing reading mostly involves objective items. In objective items scoring does not become a problem.
It is interpreting meaning out of written material. It is not confined to the written text. It is identifying the main point. It is distinguishing the main points from the sub-points.
The following techniques have been suggested by Hughes (1995, pp.120-124) for testing reading:
- Multiple choices
- Short answer
- Guided short answer
- Information transfer
- Identifying order of events
- Identifying referents
- Guessing meaning of unfamiliar words from context.
Similarly, Cross (1992, p. 193) has suggested the following techniques of testing reading:
- Multiple choice reading tests.
- Question and answer.
- Short factual answer.
- Split sentences.
- Scrambled texts.
- Pure cloze.
- Multiple-choice cloze.
- Banked cloze.
Some of them were described as follow:
- Multiple Choice
In multiple choices the candidate provides evidence of successful reading by making a mark against one out of a number of alternatives. The multiple choice test offers a useful way of testing reading comprehension. The most obvious advantages of multiple choice is that scoring can be perfectly reliable.
Multiple choice takes many forms but the basic form of multiple choice is there is a system and number of options, one of which is correct and the others being distracters. It is the candidate`s task to identify the correct or most appropriate option among the distracters.
- True and False
According to Heaton (1998, p.113) `the true and false test is one of the most widely used test of reading comprehension`. The scoring of such a test is not only straightforward and quick but also the scores by the tests can be very reliable. True/False tests were of considerable use for conclusion in class progress tests chiefly because unlike multiple choice tests items they can be constructed easily and quickly, allowing the teacher and time for other tasks.
- Cloze Test
The cloze test is one of the techniques of testing reading comprehension. It is a reading passage that he been multiplied by the deletion of every 4th (usually every sixth or seventh) word from a passage. In Hughes`s (1995, p.63) words `the cloze procedure involves deleting a number of words in a passage, leaving blanks and required the person taking the test to attempt to replace the original
- Multiple Cloze Test
It is type of cloze test in which the test takes were not supposed to be supplying their own words in the gaps. Rather they get two or more alternatives to select the appropriate one.
- Summary Cloze
A reading passage is summarized by the tester and then gaps were left in the summary for completion by the candidate. This is really an extension of the guided short answer technique and shwere its qualities. It permits the setting of several reliable but relevant items on a relatively short passage.
- Completion Item
In completion items, great care is taken to ensure that there is only one correct answer. The marking will prove very difficult when the tester is confronted with variety of answers ranging from acceptable. Such items were useful for measuring recall rather than recognition. Although such items were similar in many ways to open ended questions in test of reading comprehension, they were often regarded as belonging more to the objective category of test items.
Rearrangement of two or more items such as words or sentences of the text is useful for testing the ability to understand a sequence of steps in a process or events in narrative. In this technique of testing reading different exercises for classroom practice is given to the students and they will often be required to rewrite the jumbled sentences in their correct sequence. It is obviously preferable for testing purposes to instruct them to write simple numbers or letters of the jumbled sentences. It is also advisable to provide them with one or two answer. If students start of by putting the first two or three sentences in the wrong order, it may be impossible for them to put the remaining sentences in the correct order. In other words, one wrong answer will inevitably lead to a second wrong answer and possible as third and so on.
The term `open-ended` is used to refer to those questions which elicit a completely subjective response on the part of the tests. The response required many range from a one-word answer to one or two sentences. When marking open ending items which require answer in sentences, it is frequently advisable to award at least two or three marks for each correct answer.
Among these test items I have tested multiple choice, true or false, completion item and open ended.
2.2 Review of Empirical Literature
Every researcher needs to observe the fundamental background of the related subject and past studies. Through a number of research works have been carried out in the field of teaching English; very few of them have been conducted in the field of teaching English and reading comprehension ability. Some research studies related to this study were reviewed as follows:
Giri (1981) carried out a research on `A Comparative Study of English Language Proficiency of the Students Studying in Grade X of Doti and Kathmandu district. The objective of the study was to find out the language proficiency of the students of the students studying in grade six. In his study, he concluded that the students of urban (Kathmandu) were a were more proficient in using the English language than the students of Doti district. In the case of reading proficiency he founded that urban students had better ability to read and comprehend the passage in English than that of the rural students.
In the same way, Subedi (2000) administered `Two sets of Questions in order to Compare Reading Comprehension of IX Graders of Kathmandu and Jhapa District`. The objective of the study was to find out comparative reading comprehension ability of IX graders. To achieve the objective one set of questions was selected from the magazines and another set of questions was newspaper. He used both subjective type of text item. His study showed that the students of Kathmandu had better reading skill than those of Jhapa district.
Similarly, Ghimire (2001) studied on `English Reading Speed of Nepalese Students`. The objective of the study was to find out English reading speed of Nepalese students. He involved the students of secondary education from Dailekh, Surkhet and Kathmandu districts. His study showed that the average English reading speed of Nepali students was 89.10 words per minute. It also showed that the students of Kathmandu district could read faster of all.
Likewise, Poudel (2002) carried out a study on `Reading Comprehension Ability of the Students of Proficiency Certificate and Higher Secondary Level: A Comparative Study`. The objective of the study was to find out and compare the reading comprehension ability of the students of proficiency certificate and higher secondary levels. The primary sources of data of his study were 160 students from different campuses and higher secondary schools of Morang district. He had used random sampling procedures to select the students. Two types of questions: subjective and objective were used based on four different reading texts. His findings prove that PCL second year students have comparatively better reading ability than those of XII graders and the gap between them was remarkable.
Similarly, Shah, (2002) Studied reading comprehension ability of PCL first year students. His study showed that the average reading comprehension ability of the PCL first year students studying in different streams in Pokhara was 64.11 percent. His study also showed that reading comprehension ability of the girls 64.95 percent was a bit higher than that of the boys 64.15 percent and the Indo-Aryan native speakers could comprehend better than those of Tibeto-Burman speakers 64.05 percent.
Likewise, Bhandari (2010) studied on `Reading Comprehension Ability of SLC Graders`. The objective of the study was to find out the reading comprehension ability of SLC graders. He involved distinction holders in terms of different comprehension skill from inside valley. He used 80 students from grade 11 who achieved distinction in their SLC (2065) from different private schools. He used observation, interview and questionnaire to elicit the information. He used four items of unseen reading texts for oral and written test. He used multiple choice, true/false and gap filling items and rearranging, short questions and opinion seekers were also used. He used cumulative average of scores to interpret the data. He found that students were poor on their performance in the reading skills such as: inference, overall reading comprehension and independent reading. Whereas they were highly proficient in print skills while the score was 57.02 percent on meaning skills. Distinction holders from valley were found remarkably better in different skills and performance in comparison to those from outside the valley.
Similarly, Bhattarai (2010) conducted a research on `The Title Reading Comprehension Ability of Primary Teachers of Chitwan District`. The objective of the study was to find out title reading comprehension ability of primary teachers. He did the study of the teachers on reading comprehension on the basis of teachers training and their experience. The primary source of data for his study were the primary level English teachers both from government aided and private schools of Chitwan district using systematic judgmental sampling procedure. Three different unseen passages were selected. He found that the response of untrained and less expert teachers were slightly more erroneous than untrained teachers.
In the same way, Bhandari (2011) studied on `Reading Comprehension Ability of Dalit Students in Shankhuwasava District. The objective of the study was to find out reading comprehension ability of the Dalit students. He used the Dalit students of six government aided secondary schools for the study. He found that the score of the Dalit students in seen and unseen passage were not satisfactory. They obtained 8.33 out of 21 full marks in seen text and 8.86 out of 21 full marks in unseen texts. As a whole he found that Dalit boy students were able to so more reading comprehension ability in comprehension to Dalit girl students.
Thus, the above mentioned researches conducted on reading comprehension shows that many research works have been carried out concerning the reading comprehension of the students. Moreover. Some research works have been carried out regarding the students above secondary level. Unlike the previous works, here the researcher is interested in carrying out the present work in lower secondary level. This study differs from all of the above research studies as it is trying to study the reading comprehension ability of seventh grader students of six public schools of Taplejumg district using seen and unseen biography, letter and story. The researcher has, therefore, selected the topic for the study.
2.3 Implication of the Review of Study
The above reviewed studies were to some extend related to my study. After reviewing these studies, I have gathered lots of knowledge regarding how I should proceed. I will carry out survey research and I will take the help of Bhandari R. (2010) as his study was also related to reading comprehension ability SLC graduates. Nevertheless, other researchers conducted by Bhandari (2011), Shah (2002), Poudel (2002), Ghimire (2001) and so on, also gave me much information about this study.
2.4 Conceptual Framework
Conceptual framework is the guideline to the researcher to conduct a research. The study of reading comprehension ability of eight graders` of seventh graders` of public schools of Tapejung district will be based on following conceptual framework