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Effect Of Cooperative Learning Method On Secondary School Students’ Achievement In French Reading Comprehension In North West Region Of Cameroon

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Abstract

The study investigated the effect of cooperative learning method on secondary school students’ achievement in French reading comprehension. The purpose of the study was to compare the cooperative learning method and the communicative language teaching method. In order to carry out the study, 3 research questions were asked and 5 hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance. A quasi – experimental control group pretest – Posttest design involving four intact classes were used.  The population of the study was 1,895 Form Three students from 250 government secondary schools in North West Region Cameroon. The sample consisted of 174 Form Three students from government secondary schools selected through a multistage procedure in 4 stages including the purposive, the simple random and cluster sampling techniques. One instrument French Reading Comprehension Achievement Test (FRCAT) of 4 sections of 10 items each (total of 40 items) was used for the study. The instrument was constructed by the researcher. Three specialists validated the instrument. A reliability coefficient of 0.72 was obtained using Kudder-Richardson 20 (K-R20). The FRCAT was re -arranged, retyped and renumbered before being administered to the students to obtain the posttest scores. The results of the analysis indicated that Students taught using the cooperative learning method   achieved better in French reading comprehension than those taught using the communicative language teaching method. Students in the urban schools achieved better than those in the rural schools. Students taught French Reading Comprehension using the Cooperative Learning­­­­­ Method achieved significantly better than those taught using the Communicative Language Teaching Method. This was the same for those in the urban schools who achieved significantly better than those in the rural schools. The females achieved significantly better than the males. There was a significant interaction effect between Cooperative Learning Method and gender on students’ achievement in French Reading Comprehension; whereas there was no significant interaction effect between the Cooperative Learning Method and location on students’ achievement in French Reading Comprehension.  It is therefore recommended among others that in-service training, seminars and workshops should be organized for French language teachers and the students  sensitized  on the use of the cooperative learning method as an effective method to help in maximizing students’ achievement. Heads of institutions, such as colleges of Education, secondary  schools  and tertiary institutions should include the  cooperative learning method  as one of the methods used in teaching and learning  in their  institutions.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

          Education enables both adults and children to acquire knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that bring about behavior change.  Ivowi (2010), states that education is a basic force for the socio-economic and political transformation of any society. Quality education effects changes in the learner. However quality education is delivered by teachers who are professionally trained and one of the duties of these teachers is to use appropriate methods to teach efficiently in order to achieve educational goals. To achieve these educational goals, teachers often engage in varied forms of communication.

The use of language to achieve communication purpose in every educational system is very essential. Language is a medium of communication which helps the members of the society to communicate and interact with one another. Gray (2002) points out that language is the primary method by which people do things together. In this same direction Akudolu (2004) views language as a means through which human beings express ideas, opinions, intensions and feelings as well as establish and maintain interpersonal relationships. Anyanwu (2002) states that one characteristic of the human being and something that distinguishes him or her from other animals is the ability to use language in its most dynamic form especially speech. This is in agreement with the four main communication skills in language which are reading understanding, listening and responding.

French as a modern language is spoken, written and used like other modern languages of the world. It is used for healthy communication and diplomatic relations with Francophone countries such as Republic of Chad, Central Africa, Cameroon, Gabon, Senegal and Benin Republics. French is today the second official language of the United Nations and the European community (Orban, 2008).

Further stressing on the importance of French language, Ebi (2012) states that for Nigerians to interact effectively with French speaking countries regionally or internationally, Nigerians should be able to speak French language fluently in order to attend international workshops, seminars and conferences without language problems. In this regard, for Cameroonians to also interact with other French speaking countries in diverse domains such as the socio-economic, political and diplomatic domains without communication barriers, they should be able to understand, speak and write French language effectively.

In Cameroon, French language is one of the official languages taught at all the levels in the educational system. The language was introduced in Cameroon alongside English language. Due to political activities Cameroon was partitioned into English and French territories which were then reunited in 1961 (Ninjoh, 2014). The French and English languages were adopted as the official languages of the nation. This is clearly stated in article 1, paragraph 3 of the 1996 constitution of Cameroon as amended in 2008 as follows: “The official languages of the Republic of Cameroon shall be French and English, both languages having the same status. The state shall guarantee the promotion of bilingualism throughout the country; it shall endeavor to protect and promote national languages” (p.7).

Based on this law, Cameroon operates a bicultural educational system made up of English and French subsystems. French Language as a second official language in Cameroon is a compulsory subject taught in the English speaking regions at both the basic and secondary schools. Emphasis in the teaching and learning of this language is laid on the four skills in communication which are listening, speaking, reading and writing.  The four skills are important in the society for effective communication, they are needed and form part of the aims and objectives for studying and succeeding in French as required by the Cameroon General Certificate of Education (CGCE) Examination Board. However in this study, French reading comprehension is the skill under investigation.

Besides, French language is also offered as a course in the higher institutions of learning, as well as in Linguistic and French cultural centers in Cameroon. The Ministry of Education in Cameroon because of its importance has spelt out some of the objectives of the teaching of French at the Secondary School Level through Decision No. 030 /D/40 /MINEDUC /SG/IPG/ ESG of June 30, 1997 as follows: To

  • Equip the student with both linguistic and paralinguistic means of communication in situations where French language is necessary.
  • Equip the student with the ability to understand others in both spoken and written situations.
  • Offer to all the students, the possibility of information choice, expression and action.
  • Give the student the opportunity to acquire knowledge in diverse domains.
  • diversify the network of information and training
  • Equip the student for international transactions.
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The teaching of French as a second official language in schools in the English speaking regions of Cameroon is done mostly by trained teachers from various Teachers Training Colleges and graduates from the Bilingual Letters of Higher Education institutions. According to Echu (2004), the teaching and learning of French at all  levels of the educational system is strictly guided by the language policy which is aimed at promoting national unity and integration among the French and English speaking citizens in both French and English speaking schools. It is on this basis that a National Bilingualism Day was instituted by Decision No 1141/B1/1464/MINEDUC/IGE/IGE/IGP/ BIL of October 28, 2002, in all the public and private schools in the country. The aim of this innovation in the educational system was to improve and reinforce the teaching and learning of the second languages.

On the part of Anglophones learning French, the main aim of Decisions No 1141/B1/1464/MINEDUC/IGE/IGE/IGP/ BIL of October 28, 2002 is that everyone who goes through the English school system in Cameroon is expected to communicate in French. In English speaking schools, French language is part of the national curriculum and the major objective stated by the Ministry of Education for the teaching of French in English speaking schools is to enable learners to acquire a mastery of the French language. Emphasis is laid on the aptitude of students to understand oral and written messages and to express themselves in writing in and out of school. To attain these objectives, the government has instituted weekly minimum and maximum teaching hours in French language, starting at level three of the primary education; a minimum of four and a maximum of eight hours per week (Ministry of National Education Cameroon MINEDUC, 2001).

Despite all the efforts made by the government to achieve the stated objectives, from personal experience and observation, a majority of students in   the secondary schools are unable to read and answer questions   appropriately in French reading comprehension. In order to attain some level of achievement in French reading comprehension which is the area under investigation, the teaching method and mode of interactions with the students during the teaching-learning processes are some of the factors that need to be looked into.

Several teaching methods are used at various levels in the teaching and learning process in Cameroon. Tambo (2003) has outlined some of the general teaching methods in Cameroon, which also include the methods in the teaching of French language as a subject. Among these French language teaching methods are the recitation, drill and practice, the lecture, the discussion, laboratory, structural and the communicative language learning methods.

The aforementioned methods are used at various levels in the teaching of French Language. For instance while  French Language is taught in primary schools using mostly the drill and practice method, secondary school teachers commonly use the communicative language teaching, the structural as well as the laboratory methods, while lecturers in tertiary institutions use the lecture, the discussion and the laboratory methods.

The conventional method currently used in the teaching of French Language in Secondary Schools in Cameroon is the communicative language teaching method. According to Ebong (2004), the method which is currently used in the teaching of French in Secondary Schools is the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) method. This conventional method of teaching French language in Cameroon was introduced in the North West Region of Cameroon on the 2nd of February 1999, in an enlarged workshop by National Inspectors for Bilingualism. The workshop on the theme “L’approche communicative, didactique de l’enseignement du Français” was attended by a majority of French teachers of the Region.

The primary aim of communicative language method is “the development of communicative competence in the learner” (Akudolu, 2004, p68). Although this method stands out as an improvement on the previous teaching methods, it is still not seen as a solution to all the problems of French Language teaching in Cameroon. According to Schaetzel and Ho (2003), difficulties in the use of the communicative language teaching method include large size classes, poor classroom design and reluctant students. Another impediment is that teachers do not often fully integrate the literature of communicative language teaching in their day to day language teaching and learning process.

This might be as a result of the teachers’ inability to apply the principles of communicative language teaching to instruction. Akudolu (1997) observes that teachers’ lack of competence in the principles of communicative method is the greatest problem facing the adoption of this method to French language teaching. There is also the problem of the clashing requirements of both the teaching and examination syllabus and the lack of a morally supportive work context which does not give teachers the time or freedom to create, initiate and motivate students towards learning French as a foreign Language (FFL) for communication (Beale, 2000).

The communicative language teaching method because of these limitations   has like other teaching methods failed to promote the teaching of various aspects of French language including French reading comprehension. According to Kibett (2002), good teaching methods should provide the learners with information to be used now or in future as well as guide learners to tackle their problems.  This therefore calls for the introduction of a viable method that could promote the teaching and learning of all aspects of French language thus leading to good performance and better achievement of the students. The cooperative learning method can be tried in this regard.

Cooperative learning is an instructional method in which students of different ability levels are put in small groups constituting learning teams in which each group member not only learns but also helps other members to learn as the group engages in various learning activities. Slavin (2011) presents cooperative learning as an instructional method in which teachers organize students in small groups, who then work together to help one another learn academic contents.  It enables students of various ability   levels to work on an academic task in groups with the spirit of team and individual success; Cooperative Learning (C L) is a method that is learner centered.

This method is interactive in nature and this not only enables the learners to take a more active role in the learning process, take responsibility for their work, become highly effective and develop cognitive skills, but also provides enjoyment to the learner (Dembo, 1994). In Cooperative Learning (CL) method, students are organized in small teams of three to five members. Each team member, from the fastest to the slowest learner, has a contribution to make (Sapon-Shevin & Schriedewind ,1990; Slavin, 2010).  In other words using the cooperative learning method as a teaching method gives students the opportunity to tutor one another and consequently acquire greater mastery of the material than in the common individual learning situation.

The learners in this method are engaged in socially based, positive interaction and the acquisition of interdependent learning skills. According to Liao (2009) and Pattanpichet (2011), Cooperative learning is of great effect in developing students’ speaking skills and also improving students’ attitudes towards learning.

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Cooperative learning (CL) consists of five basic elements: Positive interdependence, promotive interaction, individual accountability, teaching of interpersonal and social skills, and group processing (Johnson & Johnson, 2009). According to Sharan (2010), teachers can get into the habit of relying on cooperative learning as a way to keep students busy.

Ning (2011) suggested that with the integration of the six key elements of Cooperative Learning (positive interdependence, individual accountability, promotive interaction, equal participation, equal opportunity for success, and group processing), the students’ communicative competence would be developed. Fostering a supportive learning atmosphere, providing more opportunities for authentic peer interaction, and generating meaningful language input and output in a cooperative teaching/learning team are conducive to improvement in social and communicative skills in both male and female learners.

One of the key variables which is important to this study is Gender. Gender is of course a classifying principle in society and culture. Okeke (2011) states that gender is a broad analytical concept which draws out women’s roles and responsibilities in relation to those of men.  Offorma (2004) observes that gender and sex are not synonymous rather; sex is an inborn physiological condition that makes individuals to be either males or females. Gender also refers to the socially culturally constructed characteristics and roles, which are ascribed to male and female. In other words the constructed characteristics are not inbuilt but learned. Lee (2001) opined that gender is ascribed social attribute that differentiates feminine from masculine. A number of studies have shown differences in students’ performance on the basis of gender. Umo (2001) reported that females performed better than males in Igbo grammar. In the same vein Omeje (2004) found that male students achieved higher than their female counterparts in Igbo letter writing.

Finally, considering the diverse nature of students in Secondary schools and based on the contentious issues of performance and achievement between male and female students especially in language learning, it is worth hypothesizing that male and female students may react differently to their exposure to various methods of teaching and learning.   In England, research findings showed that a difference occurred in mean overall performance scores between boys and girls at both the Junior Certificate Examination (J.C.E) and the Leaving Certificate examination (LCE). At both examination stages, proportionally more boys achieved lower overall performance scores than girls and there is a ‘tendency for boys to be over-represented in the group of students receiving low grades’ (Millar & Kelly 1999). Thus ‘boys clearly underachieve more often than girls’ (Millar, Farrell & Kellaghan 1998). The cause of this is “Moral panic” and lack of opportunities by boys to do well (Pyke, 1996).     Critics have suggested that the legacy of equal opportunities policies to enhance equality of access and resources has benefited girls more than boys. The revolution of girls’ education, set in motion by equal opportunities policies, has been seen to be responsible for the demoralization of boys (Francis, 2000; Judd, 1994). As a result of these and other gender related issues, gender is a variable to be considered in this study.

Similarly, location is another key variable which may affect students’ achievement. The geographical location of a school; urban or rural, has a role to play in students’ achievement. Bodunde (2010) reported that location is a significant factor in students’ achievement in oral English while Adigun and Yusuf (2010) showed that location had no influence on students’ achievement.  Students’ achievement in an urban area may not be the same as those of the students in the rural area. On school location, Bratte (2000) found out that students in urban schools are academically better than their counterparts in rural schools because urban schools have more infrastructural facilities required by students such as books and other learning materials. Some parents in the urban are also able to employ private teachers for their children at home after school hours.

In the same vein Onoyase (2015) maintained that, the reason why urban students perform better in academics than the rural students is because, urban schools attract some amenities like pipe borne water, electricity, good roads and other instructional facilities. Rural schools often lack good educational facilities for effective teaching and learning. This is in line with Mofon (2001) who stressed that many rural schools are in terrible state of despair and they lack basic learning facilities. The poor environment and poor facilities contribute immensely to poor teaching and poor academic performance and the researcher wonders whether the situation would be different when students are taught with Cooperative Learning Method (CLM). Thus, location is a variable in this study. It is therefore against the above background that this study set out to investigate the effect of Cooperative Learning Method on secondary school students’ achievement in French Reading Comprehension in the North West Region of Cameroon, taking into consideration gender and location as the only moderating variables.

Statement of the Problem

Reading comprehension in French language constitutes one of the basic language skills. It is one of the most successful means of acquiring knowledge through the reading of a written text. However from personal experience and observation, the researcher notes that a majority of the English speaking students during their secondary school studies and even after leaving school are unable to read, understand and answer questions from a comprehension passage in French language. When they are given a reading passage that is within their level of understanding, they read the passage with difficulty and in the end are not able to answer comprehension questions on the read passage. This indicates that these students have poor reading skills which give rise to poor comprehension and this negatively affects the students’ ability to be proficient in both oral and written aspects of the language. In this regard, Udosen (2009) affirms from his research findings that students with poor reading skills often achieve below expectations in their academic endeavours. This is because poor reading skills manifest in poor comprehension and this negatively affects the students’ ability to use the language or to achieve high performance in the language.

The problem of the intricacies in reading comprehension experienced by English speaking students studying French language may be as a result of teaching method adopted by the French teachers. The method of teaching various aspects of French language such as grammar, translation, reading comprehension and essay writing according to  Nkwelle, Yongabi and Fomekong (2010)  is inadequate and the teachers lack basic training in the teaching of French as a second or foreign language. This is why to them the situation needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Despite the merits of the Communicative Language Teaching Method which is used in language instruction in secondary schools in Cameroon, it appears there has been no significant improvement in students’ achievement in French reading comprehension. However, considering the characteristics and merits of the Cooperative Learning Method which are well documented in literature, one wonders the extent to which this method can help in solving the problem of students’ low achievement in French language reading comprehension. This question presents the problem that necessitated the present study.

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Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to find out the effect of the cooperative learning method on secondary school students’ achievement in French reading comprehension in the North West Region Cameroon. Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. Determine the mean achievement scores of students taught French Reading Comprehension using the cooperative learning method and those taught French Reading Comprehension using the communicative language teaching method.
  2. Find out the mean achievement scores of students in French Reading Comprehension in the rural area and those in the urban area using the cooperative learning method.
  3. Find out the mean achievement scores of male and female students in French reading comprehension using the cooperative learning method.
  4. Determine the interaction effect of the Cooperative Learning Method and gender on students’ achievement in French Reading comprehension.
  5. Determine the interaction effect of the Cooperative Learning Method and location on students’ achievement in French Reading comprehension.

 Significance of the Study

This study shall be useful to students, teachers, school administrators, publishers and writers of French textbooks, teacher educators, curriculum planners, Education Boards, the Ministry of Education as well as future researchers. The findings of this study will provide a relief for teachers by empirically providing a teaching method that would enhance students’ achievement in French Reading Comprehension and French as a whole.

If the findings of this study show the efficacy of cooperative learning method (CLM) in enhancing students’ performance in French Reading Comprehension (FRC), this will encourage teachers to use this method in teaching French and the teachers use of this method will create in the students team learning spirit and it will also increase their interest in learning French as the cooperative learning method is also learner-centered. Students using this instructional method will be able to tackle French Reading Comprehension with ease by using the principles of the cooperative learning method appropriately.

If the findings of this study indicate the superiority of CLM in enhancing students’ achievement in FRC, French teachers and teacher educators will be encouraged to acquaint themselves with the cooperative learning method and they will use it in classroom practices for the teaching and learning of French Reading Comprehension. Meanwhile Pedagogic Inspectors will also ensure adequate use of this method in the teaching and learning process through routine inspections in classrooms for improved students’ performance.

The findings of this study will provide information on the cooperative   learning method to school administrators. These administrators will propose how the school time tables could accommodate the CLM and encourage teachers to use it during French lessons for a better achievement of the learning goals.  The findings of this study will also create awareness for French textbook writers to plan the content of French textbooks based on some of the exigencies of the cooperative learning method such as teamwork activities for areas like Reading Comprehension.

The findings will provide Teacher Training Colleges (TTC), and the faculties of education of higher learning with vital information on the cooperative learning method that will facilitate its implementation in classroom practices. The results of this study will provide useful information to the Ministry of Education (MOE) on the cooperative learning method and may make the MOE to request the implementation of this method in the teacher training colleges and its use in classrooms. The curriculum planners would be encouraged to plan on how it could be inserted on the national curriculum. The examination board authorities will further organize examinations taking in consideration the exigencies of the cooperative learning method.

Theoretically the study is significant in the sense that it will make available theories   on the construction of knowledge, social cohesion and the cognitive theory to add to the existing ones. This will help researchers in their further researches on language learning method. The findings of this study will also put together literature on basic language skills, reading comprehension, methods of language teaching and learning, achievement, location, gender and on the cooperative learning method.  The findings will also provide empirical information to readers and researchers on the cooperative learning method and students’ achievement in academic disciplines especially in the area of French Reading Comprehension.

Scope of the Study

The focus of this study is on the effect of the Cooperative Learning Method on French Reading Comprehension achievement of Form Three students in North West Region of Cameroon. The study is delimited to the following topics in French Language Reading Comprehension as presented in Le Réseau du Français3. A new Secondary French Course for Cameroon.

  1. La fête nationale (Expressing words and expressions referring to a feast)

Identifier et parler des différentes fêtes

  1. Téléphonons à maman (Expressing modern medium  of communication)

Téléphoner et réagir aux méssages téléphoniques.

  1. Une lettre à Emeka Daniel (Expressing ones thoughts through letter writing)

Exprimer sa pensée à une personne par une lettre écrite.

  1. Je suis en forme (words and expressions referring to health)

Parler de la santé.

The study is further delimited to teaching methods such as the cooperative method; using strategies such as the Jigsaw, Number Heads Together, Think-Pair-Share and the Carousel Cooperative Learning Strategies and the Communicative Language Teaching Method and their effects on students’ achievement  in language teaching and learning, gender and location as variables and their interaction effects  with Cooperative Learning Method on students’ achievement in French Reading Comprehension, also formed part of the study and some selected Government Secondary Schools in the North West Region of Cameroon.  

Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study:

  1. What are the mean achievement scores of students taught French Reading Comprehension using the Cooperative Learning Method and those taught French Reading Comprehension using the Communicative Language Teaching Method?
  2. What are the mean achievement scores of rural and urban located secondary school students in French Reading Comprehension, taught using the Cooperative Learning Method?
  3. What are the mean achievement scores of the male and female students taught French Reading Comprehension using the Cooperative Learning Method?

Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses formulated were tested at 0.05 level of significance.

HO1   There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of         students taught French Reading Comprehension using the Cooperative Learning­­­­­ Method and those of students taught French Reading comprehension using the Communicative Language Teaching Method.

HO2   There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students in rural and urban secondary schools taught French Reading Comprehension using   the Cooperative Learning Method.

HO3   There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students taught French Reading Comprehension using the Cooperative Learning method.

HO4   There is no significant interaction effect of the Cooperative Learning Method and gender on students’ achievement in French Reading Comprehension.

HO5   There is no significant interaction effect of the Cooperative Learning Method and location on students’ achievement in French Reading Comprehension.


Pages:  222

Category: Project

Format:  Word & PDF        

Chapters: 1-5

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.

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