Country Report: Ghana [PDF 1.44MB]

Country Report: Ghana [PDF 1.44MB]
Teacher Preparation and Continuing
Professional Development in Africa (TPA)
LEARNING TO TEACH READING AND MATHEMATICS
AND ITS INFLUENCE ON PRACTICE IN
GHANA
Draft Country Report
Prepared by
Christine Adu-Yeboah
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1: Background and Introduction
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.3.1
1.3.2
1.4
1.5
1.5.1
1.5.2
1.5.3
1.5.4
1.6
3
Education for All and Educational Quality: The significance of Teacher Education
Conceptual Framework
Literature Review
What is reading?
Learning to teach basic mathematics: what is essential
Initial Teacher Education in Ghana
Research Design and Methodology
Data sets and methods
Data collection timelines
Challenges and Limitations
Data Analysis
Outline of Report
4
6
6
6
8
8
11
11
13
14
16
14
Chapter 2: The Teacher Training and School Curriculum in Reading and Mathematics: Exploring
Implications for Teaching Competencies
2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4
2.5
2.6
2.7
2.8
2.9
2.10
Introduction
The General Overview of the Teacher Training Curriculum
The Teacher Training Reading Curriculum
The Primary Reading Curriculum
The NALAP Curriculum
T he TTC, School and NALAP Curriculum: similarities and differences
The Teacher Training Mathematics Curriculum
The Primary Mathematics Curriculum
Comparing Primary and TTC Mathematics Curriculum
Conclusion
Chapter 3: Learning to Teach Reading
16
16
16
18
19
21
22
24
25
25
26
27
3.1
Introduction
27
3.2
Reflections on Training
27
3.2.1 Accessing Instructional Materials
27
3.2.2 What is reading and the best way of teaching children to read
28
3.2.3 Barriers to learning from Practice
29
3.3
Teacher educator‘s teaching practices
30
3.4
Summary
31
3.5
Trainees‘ knowledge and understanding of teaching reading
31
3.5.1 Reflections on training
31
3.4.2 Knowledge base of teacher trainees and their understandings of teaching reading
32
3.6
Summary
35
3.7 Translating knowledge and understanding of reading into practice 36
3.7.1 The knowledge base of NQTs and their understandings about reading lessons
36
3.7.2 Delivering the reading lesson: NQTs‘ practices and explanations
38
3.7.3 NQTs‘ perspectives on teaching reading
41
3.8
Testing NQTs specific knowledge and understanding of teaching reading
43
3.9
The NALAP teachers: insights into their knowledge and practice
46
3.9.1 The knowledge base of NALAP teachers and their understandings about reading lessons 47
3.9.2 NALAP teachers‘ practices and understandings
48
3.9.3 Challenges of the NALAP approach
48
3.10
Explaining the gaps: from training to gaining experience
49
3.11 Summary
51
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Chapter 4: Learning to Teach Primary Mathematics
4.1
4.1.1
4.1.2
4.2
4.2.1
4.2.2
4.3
4.3.1
4.4
4.4.1
4.4.2
4.4.3
4.4.4
4.4.5
4.4.5
The identity, knowledge and practice of mathematics teacher educators
Teacher Educator‘s views about the TTC Curriculum
Teacher Educators‘ knowledge and understandings of learning to teach
The Teacher Educator‘s teaching practices
The structure of lessons
Tutors‘ reflections on practice
Teacher Trainees‘ reflections on learning to teach mathematics
The role of local language in learning mathematics
Linking knowledge to practice: insights from NQT teaching practices
NQTs pedagogical content knowledge
NQT understanding of practice
Attributes of a good primary mathematics teacher
NQTs knowledge of mathematics for teaching
Exploring topics teacher trainees and NQTs find difficult to teach
How do NQTs deliver their mathematics lessons?
52
52
52
53
54
54
54
55
56
56
56
57
59
60
63
64
Chapter 5: Costs and Efficiency
5.1
5.2
5.3
5.4
Introduction
Assumptions
Relationship between costs, teaching group size and teaching load
Conclusions
Chapter 6: Discussion and recommendations for Policy and Practice
6.1
6.1.1
6.2
6.3
6.4
Teacher training in reading: emerging issues and recommendations
Emerging issues
How do NQT‘s use their training to teach reading?
Addressing the gaps and recommendations
Teacher training in basic mathematics: emerging issues and recommendations
67
67
67
69
69
69
69
70
72
72
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LEARNING TO TEACH READING AND MATHEMATICS AND
INFLUENCES ON PRACTICE: A STUDY OF TEACHER
EDUCATION IN GHANA
Chapter 1: Background and Introduction
1.1 Education for All and Educational Quality: The significance of
Teacher Education
Since 1990 and more especially since 2000 the goal of Education for All by 2015 has galvanized many countries
in sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) into confronting their historically low rates of enrolment. They have been remarkably
successful in attracting many more children into schools (UNESCO 2008). However filling the classrooms is not
enough; education for all, if it is to have positive social and economic consequences, must involve children
learning at least the basic minimum competences of literacy and numeracy that will enable them to benefit from
and contribute to their society‘s future. Unfortunately, much evidence suggests that many who attend school are
not learning very much. UNESCO (2008:2) reports a ‗relatively low and unequal learning achievement in
language and mathematics‘ in many countries especially in sub-Sahara Africa (SSA). These poor results are
seen throughout basic schooling, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the first years of schooling are
especially important. Children‘s early experiences with learning shape their attitudes and commitment to
education and so, more than at any other stage, what happens in the early grades, determines their educational
future. Unless they make sufficient progress at this stage they are liable either to cease coming to school
entirely, relapsing into illiteracy and innumeracy, or to become the ‗silently excluded‘ who are not able to acc ess
the increasingly demanding work of the later grades (Liddell and Rae 2001; Lewin 2009; UNESCO 2010; Glick
and Sahn 2010). This is particularly true in reading and mathematics which underpin understanding across the
school curriculum.
Research examining teacher quality confirms the logical conclusion that poor quality of students‘ learning
correlates strongly with poor quality of teachers‘ teaching. Effective student learning and achievement is
hampered by weaknesses in teachers‘ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and classroom practice (Pontefract
& Hardman 2005; Akyeampong, Pryor & Ampiah 2006, Moon et al. 2005; Byamugisha & Ssenabulya, 2005 and
other SAQMEC country reports). Teacher education has been identified as both part of the problem and the
solution. Increase in pupil enrolment has meant a huge demand for more teachers and the priority has been to
find ways of increasing the numbers appointed either by recruiting more trainees onto established courses, by
creating new routes into teaching or by a combination of both strategies (UNESCO 2005). Policy and plans often
assume that initial teacher education (ITE) and continuing professional development (CPD) make a difference to
teachers‘ pedagogic knowledge and skill which in turn will be reflected in enhanced student learning outcomes
(Dembélé and Lefoka.2007). However, in many countries in SSA there is little systematic insight into the content
and process of knowledge and skill acquisition by ITE students and newly qualified teachers (NQTs), and e ven
less evidence that relates inputs to outcomes in terms of improved pedagogy and greater learning achievement
in mathematics and reading. Not enough is known about how teachers working in different educational
environments and contexts adopt and adapt the knowledge and skills they have acquired through formal training
to address the particular learning needs of young students in their actual schools.
Commitment to improving quality primary education in sub-Sahara Africa has focused primarily on infrastructure
(e.g. classrooms, equipment, learning materials) and the supply of adequate numbers of teachers, and less on
how teacher training and CPD can promote teacher competencies that meet the learning needs of students in
real classrooms (Moon 2007; Bernard, Tiyab, &. Vianou, 2004). While there is evidence that both pre-service and
on-the-job training of teachers at primary school are the key ways in which teachers learn to teach (Darling Hammond, Wise & Klein 1999: Lewin & Stuart 2002), research indicates that induction support for the Newly
Qualified Teacher (NQT)1 can be negligible, with a ‗washout‘ effect occurring as a result (Lewin and Stuart,
1
In the project, we use the term ‘trainee’ to denote those still undergoing initial training and ‘newly qualifi ed
teacher’ ( NQT) for those undergoing one year practicum after their two years of course work in teacher
training. ‘Students’ refers to those whom they are teaching in the primary/elementary schools.
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2003). Socialization into existing school practices may quickly overwhelm the effects of training, especially in
systems where seniority creates status hierarchies that promote conformity to established practices by NQTs
(Westbrook et al. 2009).
The Teacher Preparation and Continuing Professional Development Project (‗TPA Project‘), funded by the
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, was set up to fill the gap in knowledge about how the initial and continuing
education of teachers impacts on the practice of teachers through studies in six African countries. This paper
reports on the research that has been carried out in Ghana. Because of the extreme importance of early reading
and mathematics for future progress, it focuses on the preparation that teachers who teach in the lower primary
grades receive and what support is available through CPD and other routes to teach these subjects. A central
issue is whether the process of learning to teach reading and mathematics at lower primary level draws attention
to, and emphasizes the kind of teaching competencies known to be important for developing lower primary
school children‘s abilities to read and understand basic mathematical concepts. The research has built up a
comprehensive picture of initial training and CPD related to reading and mathematics in the early years of
primary school. It has sought to identify factors that contribute to successful practice and that lead to increased
student learning outcomes, as well as specific barriers and constraints that impede teacher practice and student
progression in basic numeracy and literacy. The findings are used to suggest feasible ways in which teacher
preparation in Ghana might be improved.
In particular it has addressed the following research questions:
1. How do pre-service teacher education programs prepare trainee teachers to teach reading and
mathematics in the early grades?
a. What assumptions about learning to teach reading and mathematics can be deduced from the
structure and content of the primary teacher training curriculum, and from school textbooks?
b. How does the teacher education curriculum and their implicit and explicit theoretical base relate to
the curriculum for early years in language and mathematics in schools?
2. How do trainee teachers develop their understanding of teaching reading and mathematics to early
grade students?
a. How do these relate to college courses and experience during a structured practicum?
3. How do newly qualified teachers teach reading and mathematics in their first few years of teaching?
a. How does this practice relate to what has been taught and learnt in pre-service training?
b. What support do they draw on in developing their practice?
c. What is the nature of the gap between what the research literature says about teaching reading
and basic mathematics in early primary schooling, and what beginning teachers actually do in their
classrooms?
4. What are the characteristics of professional development programs with a mathematics and/or reading
focus that have been implemented over the past three years?
a. Which teachers have they been designed for, and how were these teachers selected?
5. How do the graduates of professional development programs teach reading and mathematics to early
grade students?
a. What changes in teacher practice can be linked to their participation in professional development
programs?
6. Which teaching competencies and skills should be incorporated into the curriculum of primary teacher
education programs and which should become the preferred focus of teachers‘ professional
development activities?
7. How cost effective are major pre-service and CPD programs with mathematics and reading focus?
a. What is the relationship between the cost per trainee and extent to which teachers develop their
understanding and adopt desired practices?
8. How can professional knowledge and skills in teaching reading and mathematics be effecti vely
transferred and shared within and among primary teacher training programs and beginning teachers?
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1.2 Conceptual Framework
In addressing these issues we conceptualize competence in terms of knowledge, understanding and practice.
Practice is central to good teaching but successful teachers would concur with the great body of research into
teaching that good practice cannot just depend on the un-reflected application of techniques. It is a complex
process which requires a great deal of different knowledge. Content knowledge which concerns knowing the
subject matter to be taught is obviously important, but teaching also requires pedagogic knowledge which
concerns how to engage with learners and to manage a classroom. However, as Shulman (1987) first pointed
out, in order for these two kinds of knowledge to guide actual practice, a third category, pedagogical content
knowledge, is crucial; this involves knowing how to represent and formulate the subject matter, in this case of
early reading and mathematics, that make it comprehensible to students. The project has therefore investigated
the different kinds of knowledge that teachers at various stages of preparation have and their understandings of
how this can be applied to construct classroom practice. In this regard, the literature on what constitutes
beginning Reading and Mathematics and how to represent and formulate them to beginners was examined and
used as the framework for the investigation.
1.3 Literature Review:
1.3.1 What is Reading?
Reading has been defined to include the expression of several behaviours such as reading real words in
isolation or in context, reading pseudo words that can be pronounced but have no meaning, reading text aloud or
silently, and demonstrating comprehension of text that is read silently or orally (National Reading Panel (NRP),
2000). Reading is done with the aim of generating meaning from a text. To achieve this, readers have to decode
graphemes (lines and shapes which represent spoken sounds) into words, sentences and then continuous text
and attach meaning to them. T he cognitive work involved in the decoding exercise becomes worthwhile (Meek,
1994; Ehri, 2002) when the reader achieves this aim. Decoding and reading for meaning are two psycholinguistic
processes that develop from separate roots but are intertwined (Gough & Tunmer, 1986; Oakhill et al., 2003).
This integration occurs as the child begins learning to read through a teacher or parent, connecting oral language
with phonological awareness. Learning to read is therefore said to be embedded within the social and cultural
context in which children learn to speak (Brice Heath, 1983; Stanovich, 1986; Street, 1999; Barton et al., 2000).
According to the influential US-focused National Reading Panel and the US Center for Education (2010), there
are five key reading skills that children need to be able to read:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Phonological awareness (discriminating different spoken sounds in words)
Phonics (sound to letter relationship)
Fluency (ability to read orally aloud or silently with speed, accuracy, and proper expression and
contributing to comprehension)
Vocabulary (acquiring sight vocabulary, inferring new words)
Comprehension (meaning-making) (NICHHD, 2000)
While decoding is learnt first, these five reading elements are soon orchestrated simultaneously, working
together in a causal relationship or ‗bootstrapping‘. In this sense, the growth of one area supports the others
(Stanovich, 1986). Phonics instruction stresses the acquisition of letter-sound correspondences and their use in
reading and spelling. Its aim is to help beginning readers to understand how letters are linked to sounds
(phonemes) to form letter-sound correspondences and spelling patterns, and to help them learn how to apply this
knowledge in their reading (Trudell & Schroeder, 2007). This is also known as phonological awareness, which is
known to be facilitated through knowledge of print concept, developed by providing a print-rich environment.
Children need oral proficiency to develop phonological awareness, which leads to letter/sound identification and
a build-up to syllables and words/vocabulary – or vice versa.
Comprehension is the ability to interact cognitively with continuous text, a sentence or a short story to draw out
meaning and create mental models of the text. It requires a sight vocabulary of 95 percent of the words on the
page, fluency in reading aloud or silently and knowledge of syntax learnt from the grammar of the spoken
language (Ehri, 2002; Malatesha, 2005). Cain (2011) considers text integration, local and global coherence;
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comprehension monitoring; and knowledge of text structure as essential. These can be taught to very young
children through oral storytelling and picture books as well as continuous text (Cain, 2011).
Text comprehension is also believed to be enhanced when readers are made to actively relate the ideas
represented in print to their own knowledge and experiences, and construct mental representations in memory
(NRP, 2000). This is expected to be done through explicit instruction in the application of seven comprehension
strategies, which have been shown to be highly effective in enhancing text comprehension (Center for Education,
2010). These are listed as follows: (1) summarising what is read (2) generating questions of the text (3) using
diagrams, maps or pictures to understand the text (4) predicting what will happen (5) clarifying what has
happened (6) drawing inferences and (7) Self-regulatory or monitoring. Research suggests that the use of a
multiple strategy provides the best instruction. Readers need to question the text by asking ‗what does it say?‘
‗What does it mean? and to choose a self-correction strategy if the text does not make sense. Reading is
therefore an active, interrogative process rather than a passive one.
Pedagogies for teaching reading
From our understanding of what reading involves, we see that beginning readers need to learn the sounds and
structure of spoken words i.e. phonics, and to learn to connect parts of the text through systematic, explicit
instruction focused on actual text in tandem with word meaning – or comprehension. A focus on only one
reading skill over and above another will weaken reading development (NICHHD, 2000). In the first two grades
there is overlap with pre-reading skills such as oral language development, alphabetic knowledge, rapid
automatic naming of letters and pictures and print concept, especially if some or most children have not been to
pre-school or nursery (Chabbott, 2006; Lonigan & Shanahan, 2006). In a synthetic approach to phonics, children
are taught to build up to word, syllable and sentence level. An analytic or global approach starts from a complete
text such a short story or word broken down into its constituent. Each approach can use flash cards, interactive
games, rhymes, and songs, although a mixed approach works best. Comprehension needs to be taught via an
interactive, dialogic approach through stories and rhymes - real texts visible to all students - read aloud many
times by the teacher or student for fluency (Dombey, 2011). Strategies taught explicitly by the teacher‘s
questioning and modelling include summarisation, using diagrams or drawing pictures of text meaning,
prediction, clarification and drawing inferences, learnt best and early on through oral storytelling and pictures with
word-attack skills (Cain & Oakhill, 1999; NICHHD, 2000; Bentolila & Germain, 2005; Trudell & Schroeder, 2007).
What do teachers need to know to teach reading?
To help students to demonstrate reading ability, research recommends that teachers should have a firm grasp of
the content presented in text, and more importantly, have substantial knowledge of and use different strategies in
teaching reading (NRP, 2000). It is also recommended that teachers must know which of those strategies are
most effective for different students. What this means is that, acquisition of subject matter and pedagogical
content knowledge must be key components of any reading teacher preparation programme (Risko et al., 2008).
All of this demands a substantial knowledge base for beginner teachers of reading, and this is not easily acquired
just theoretically or practically. In addition, there is theoretical knowledge of reading development, how to create
and manage a print and language rich classroom and to understand the different c ultural contexts in which
languages are used and to diagnose the proficiencies of their learners (Commeyras & Inyega, 2005; Moats,
2009; CFE, 2010).
Trainees‘ existing knowledge and beliefs about reading can be challenged and altered through using explicit
examples through tutor modelling the pedagogic strategies and opportunities for extensive and guided practice to
develop PCK with students in real classrooms, followed by critical reflection with tutors or mentors (Schon).
Learning to teach as with learning to talk and to read is situated learning: trainees need to be grounded in
classroom practice and assessed through coursework modes which indicate their theoretical and practical
knowledge (Shulman, 1987; Risko et al., 2008; CFE, 2010).
From the survey of the literature, our understanding of what reading is, and what teachers need to know to be
able to teach it effectively provided the basis for investigating how teacher training programmes select what
should go into their reading programme and how trainees are taught to teach it.
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1.3.2
Learning to teach Basic Mathematics – what is essential?
The international research on mathematics teacher preparation for lower/elementary teaching suggests that,
teachers‘ knowledge of mathematics, how it should be represented in teaching, and their knowledge of
pedagogical procedures, are important in influencing how their students learn mathematics (Fennema & Franke
1998). Besides, the extent of teacher trainees‘ exposure to and understanding of curricular materials, including
textbooks shapes their level of effectiveness in teaching school mathematics (Ma 1999). But teacher trainees
come into training with some idea of what learning and doing mathematics is from their experience of schooling.
Many teacher education programmes make the assumption that a strong subject knowledge base is essential in
learning to teach primary or secondary mathematics (Ball, 1990, 2000). Research on teaching shows that
teachers‘ ability to represent and formulate mathematical concepts and processes in ways th at help learners
understand mathematics is of greater importance. Simply calling for more investment in teacher education
without understanding clearly the specific nature of the problem that investment is to fix, is unlikely to produce
the impact expected.
Research on teaching also suggests that subject-matter knowledge is important up to a point and that taking
more courses in mathematics is not linearly related to teaching quality for mathematics teachers (Darling Hammond et al., 1999). As Ball (2000) puts it, simply ―knowing that subtraction is a particularly difficult idea for
students to master is not something that can be seen from knowing ‗big ideas‘ of the discipline (p 245). Hill and
Ball (2004) argue that ―how teachers hold knowledge may matter much more than how much knowledge they
hold (p 330). Similarly, knowing the subject matter knowledge that their students are to learn has limits in terms
of teachers‘ capacities to teach the subject with meaning. What is important is how teachers repre sent school
subject knowledge in ways that help students to develop robust understanding. Ball (2000) believes that to
achieve this, we must start with practice and understand the work that teachers do and analyse the role played
by content knowledge in that work.
An assumption that some teacher education practices often make is that primary school mathematics content is
not difficult, and that a good grasp of mathematics content knowledge and knowledge of methods for teaching
school mathematics is sufficient to become a good mathematics teacher. Often this leads to a view that all
teachers need to know is a ―collection of facts and rules in which doing mathematics means following set
procedures to arrive at an answer‖ (Ma 1999, 123). Ball (2000) demonstrates the limits of this assumption in
research which shows that although a teacher may be able to do mathematics, he/she may not have the kind of
mathematical understandings that can help students learn it meaningfully. Ma‘s (1999) research exploring
Chinese and U.S. teachers‘ subject matter knowledge also revealed that the former had better capacity to
explain elementary mathematics because they had studied teaching materials intensively and understood more
deeply their own students learning of the subject.
What research in teaching and teacher education suggests is that teachers‘ knowledge of mathematics and the
training they receive plays a big part in how they perceive and rationalise their competence in teaching (Ball,
1990; Hill & Ball, 2004). If we are to understand why many African children in lower primary fail to grasp basic
knowledge of mathematics, then it is important to investigate what happens in learning to teach the subject, and
how that learning shapes what prospective teachers know and do when they start teaching. Beginning to
understand this is a necessary precursor to improving primary teachers‘ effectiveness in teaching mathematics
for understanding.
1.3
Initial Teacher Education in Ghana
Teacher education started in Ghana in the late 1840s. The foundation was laid by the Basel mission who set up
a seminary at Akropong-Akwapim in 1848 to train teacher-catechists to further their aims of evangelism (Pecku,
1998, cited in Cobbold, 2006). The Basel mission established two other seminaries at Osu in 1850 and at Abetifi
in 1898, but these were later amalgamated with the seminary at Akropong. Other missions, such as the Bremen,
Wesleyan and Catholic followed in these efforts, though their early attempts were largely unsuccessful. Thus, at
the close of the nineteenth century, there were only three teacher training colleges in Ghana, two established by
the Basel and one by the Roman Catholic (Cobbold, 2010). Government intervention in teacher education
started in 1909 with the establishment of the first teacher training college in Accra to train teachers for both
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government and mission schools. This started as a pattern of collaboration between the government and the
missions (and more recently private individuals) in the provision of teacher education which has existed to date
(Cobbold, 2010). But as Cobbold (2010, p. 65) has observed ―the path has been a wavy one.‖ In other words,
teacher education in Ghana has had a chequered history, ―often based on ad hoc programmes to meet
emergency situations and needs of the education system‖ (Akyeampong, 2000, p. 24) and driven by ―the
fortunes sometimes of political history, the interest and fervour of the missionary factor or the availability of funds
to implement policies which were deemed appropriate‖ (Pecku, 1998, p. 3).
Through such undulating terrain, Ghana has built up a teaching body comprising teachers who have
been trained in courses of varied duration and nature and hold different categories of professional
qualifications….The courses and the qualifications they lead to are the products of a series of reforms
and counter reforms embarked on in attempts to solve the problem of shortage of trained teachers
necessitated by educational expansion as well as socio-economic and political factors (Cobbold, 2010,
p. 65).
The following sections describe the current status of teacher education in Ghana.
The Colleges of Education
The key institutions that train teachers for basic schools are the training colleges now designated Colleges of
Education (CoEs). The pattern of their development, as noted in the introduction, has been in response to
national demands in general and changes at the basic school level in particular. Currently, there are 40 colleges
of education - 38 publicly-funded and two privately-run, with at least one located in each
administrative/educational region of the country. Seven of the 38 public CoEs train female teachers only, one is
an all-male technical-oriented college, and the remaining 30 are co-educational. All the 40 colleges are
residential and prepare teachers for both primary and junior high levels, though some have additional mandate to
prepare teachers for the pre-school level and for science and mathematics.
Types of Programmes in the Colleges
Over the years, the colleges have run different programmes in response ―to the needs and circumstances of the
moment, and teachers have been required to undertake more institutional training to upgrade‖ (Cobbold, 2010, p.
74). Consequently, the colleges have run programmes that led to the following categories of teacher
qualifications:





Four-year certificate ‗A‘ programme for middle school leavers
Two-year certificate ‗B‘ programme for middle school leavers
Two-year certificate ‗A‘ programme for certificate ‗B‘ holders
Two-year certificate ‗A‘ programme for secondary school leavers
Three-year certificate ‗A‘ programme for secondary school leavers
All the programmes listed above have been phased out. Presently, the COEs run a three -year six-semester
Diploma in Basic Education (DBE) programme. The DBE started in the 2004/2005 academic year to fulfil teacher
education policy directive that requires basic school teachers to possess a minimum professional qualification of
Diploma in Basic Education. The DBE programme is offered through three routes. Firstly, there is the regular
three-year residential programme offered by all the colleges of education. This is for trainees who have
secondary education but have no previous teaching experience. The programme structure is commonly termed
‗IN-IN-OUT‘, which means trainees spend the first two years in college to study subject matter and methods
courses, and go out to schools to have a year-long teaching practice. Secondly, there is the four-year nonresidential programme meant for middle school and secondary school leavers who are teaching as untrained
teachers. The programme, dubbed Untrained Teachers Diploma in Basic Education (UTDBE), started in the
2004/2005 academic year, and is now in its fourth phase. Trainees enrolled in the UTDBE study by distance
using prepared modules and have face-to-face contacts with their tutors at cluster and college levels. The
UTDBE is run by 35 out of the 38 public colleges of education. Though initially targeted at 24,000 untrained
teachers who had been identified in a national teacher demand and supply study (Quansah, 2003, cited in
Cobbold, 2010), the programme currently enrols 26831 trainees (September 2008 data).
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The third programme is the two-year four-semester sandwich programme which started in August 2007. The
programme aims to do the following:




update and upgrade 60,000 (about 90%) of the Certificate ‗A‘ practising teachers to the diploma level
(see the beginning of this section) by 2012;
improve the quality of teaching through enhanced content and pedagogical knowledge of the Certificate
‗A‘ teachers to the advantage of pupils;
improve teacher knowledge base in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and HIV/AIDS
Education which were added to the basic school curriculum under the 2007 reform;
staff 90% of basic schools with DBE graduates and enhance confidence in public basic schools in terms
of qualified staff to step up pupil enrolment and achievement (PRINCOF Secretariat, 2008, p. 108; TED,
n.d).

Popularly, called ‗top-up,‘ the programme is fully residential and intensive, and is run by 16 colleges of education
with a total enrolment of 10,800 trainees. Trainees come to the colleges during the school vacation for tuition and
examination.
Curriculum Content
Despite the variations in duration and mode of delivery, all the three DBE programmes are essentially the same
in content, except the ‗to-up‘ sandwich programme in which, understandably, trainees cover fewer units. All
teacher trainees take courses in:
1. Foundation Studies - comprising subjects taught in basic schools. The subjects are English, Mathematics,
Ghanaian Language and Culture, Integrated Science, Environmental and Social Studies, Technical Skills,
Pre-vocational Skills, French, and Religious and Moral Education, The emphasis is on the content of these
subjects rather than methodology.
2. Educational and Professional Studies – comprising curriculum and methods courses in the foundation
subjects and in subjects of students‘ specialisation; and other professional education courses such as
Principles and Practice of Education, Child and Adolescent Development and Learning, Assessment and
Research in Basic Schools, History and Management of Education, etc.
3. General studies – comprising Communication and Study Skills, Information and Communication Technology,
and HIV/AIDS Education. These are geared towards the student‘s personal development.
Entry Qualifications
The requirements for entering a college of education have shifted from Middle School Leaving Certificate to
Senior High School Certificate. Minimum entry requirement for the teacher education universities has been a
Senior Secondary Certificate from the beginning. Currently, the colleges of education require a minimum
aggregate of 24 in six subjects at the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) level. This
should include passes in three core subjects (English Language, Mathematics and Science), and three other
subjects. Non-academic requirements such as personality qualities, aptitude for teaching and good character are
determined in an interview at the college level.
The public universities also require passes in six subjects including the three core subjects mentioned above,
with a better grade in Social Studies accepted in lieu of a weak grade in Science for students applying for nonscience programmes. Also, the public universities have aggregate 20 as the minimum entry requirement, and
they do not accept grades lower than a ‗D‘. Teaching experience is not a mandatory requirement for enrolling in
an initial teacher education programme in a college of education or university.
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1.5 Research Design and Methodology
1.5.1 Data sets and methods
The research hinges on establishing the different knowledge, understanding and practices that are expected of
teachers during their preparation and then comparing them with those that they actually exhibit at different points
in their training and career. The points of comparison are summarized in Figure 1.
Figure 1: COMPARISONS AND TENSIONS
Knowledge, understanding and
practice expected of trainee teachers
by the ITE program
Knowledge, understanding and practice of
trainee teachers at the end of their
training
(Analysis of documentation and interviews
with key personnel)
(Questionnaire; Trainee focus groups,
teacher educator interviews following
observation)
ITE: Relation between
expectation and practice
Knowledge, understanding and practice of newly
qualified teachers (NQT)
Questionnaire; interviews with NQTs following
observation)
CPD: Relation between expectation
and practice
Knowledge, understanding and practice
expected of CPD program participants
(Analysis of documentation; interviews with
providers.
Knowledge, understanding and practice of
teachers who have followed CPD
programs
(Questionnaire; Interviews following
observation)
An initial line of enquiry was to establish what competences relevant to the teaching of reading and mathematics
that the program of initial teacher education seeks to instill in trainee teachers. This was accomplished from an
analysis of teacher education documents including programme aims/objectives, expected standards and from
interviews with the providers (blue rectangle in Figure 1).
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The second set of data (green rectangle in figure 1) sought to build a picture of the knowledge, understanding
and practice of actual trainee teachers at the end of their training. Both quantitative and qualitative data were
used to develop this. Qualitative data derived from focus groups and interviews following observation of teaching
on the ITE program. The observation instrument looked for the use of the following, among others: (a) the
method for teaching reading, (b) procedure of the lessons in terms of the sequence of learning of content and
progression (c) teacher-led teaching/explanation (d) use of TLMs and (e) students‘ engagement in
group/individual work.
Direct inference about the training from observation is problematic and possible only through frequent and
lengthy observations, a scale outside the means of the project. The project therefore used observed sessions of
mathematics and reading training as preliminary data for focus group discussions with a sample of trainees (8 for
each of the subjects) in each college, selected as far as possible to include a range of achievement, a balance of
gender and ethnic background, in consultation with their teacher educators. Moderation of the discussion was
designed to consider the extent to which what was observed reflected the training as a whole, using the video
and shared experience of the session to probe pedagogic content knowledge and understandings of teaching
practice. The focus group discussions were structured around four main areas which sought information about
the following:




The lesson that had been observed and to what extent they were typical of the training the trainees had
received in terms of delivery of content and pedagogy, and how they thought it had enabled them to
make progress;
What they thought they had learnt from the training about how to teach reading and mathematics to
early grade students in the areas of knowledge, understandings and practices in content and pedagogy,
and which ones they wished to adopt;
Other sources of their learning such as from practical experience, their own schooling, etc.;
How much they knew about the curriculum materials and conditions in the schools where they would be
teaching, including the socio cultural and socio economic backgrounds of the students.
A similar approach was followed in interviews with the trainers whose sessions had been observed. Sixteen
teacher educators (8 each in mathematics and reading) from four Colleges of Education (CoEs) in the Central
and Ashanti regions of Ghana participated in the study. Their teaching experiences ranged from 3 to 20 years.
Snapshots of their lessons to teacher trainees (8 each in mathematics and reading) were taken and used to
examine their knowledge and understanding of how to teach reading to lower primary pupils. All the teacher
educators had received initial teacher training in teacher training colleges before embarking on degree courses
at the university.
The quantitative data derived from a questionnaire developed from one that had been used successfully in other
work (Akyeampong 2003b) with teacher-trainees towards the end of their course (see appendix D). It was
administered to a sample of trainees in four contrasting teacher training colleges. Sampling was done by using
the three geographical zones of the country: the northern, middle and southern zones. One rural and one urban
College of Education (CoE) in all the three zones were sampled, making a total of 6 colleges for the quantitative
data collection exercise. However, this report covers only the findings from the middle and southern zones where
qualitative data was also gathered. To facilitate the sampling process, criteria were set to define colleges as to
whether they were rural or urban. Rural colleges were those located in villages or small towns where:





the dominant occupation is small-scale farming or fishing
there are few white-collar jobs or none at all
there is poor road network
there is lack of social amenities
there are no vibrant commercial activities, etc.
In the CoEs, second year students were the target population. They were chosen because of their exposure to
the methodology course of the Teacher Training (TT) programme, and therefore were assumed to have acquired
knowledge and understanding about how to teach Reading and Mathematics. The CoEs run ‗generalist‘ as well
12 | P a g e
as ‗specialist‘ programmes (these are described in chapter 2). Among the sampled colleges, on e offered
specialist training in Technical Education; one in French and Science and Mathematics and the other two also
offered specialised programmes in Science and Mathematics. Each college also ran generalist programmes
concurrently. Consequently, purposive sampling was adopted in each college to select 50 second year trainees
from each programme of study (i.e. Technical Education, Science and Maths, General Arts/French), depending
on which of these the college offered, out of a second year population ranging between 250 and 350. Between
140 and 170 students were sampled in each college depending on their population, making a total of 650. Six
hundred and forty-six (646: 99%) questionnaires were retrieved from all the four colleges.
The questionnaire was based on a common set of items with small amendments to ensure that the form used
appropriate terminology, following piloting in each of the six countries in the TPA project. Piloting was done in
one CoE and two schools with similar characteristics as the sampled sites, after which some modifications were
made in the instruments. These were mainly in respect of changes in terminologies to reflect the Ghanaian
context. The questionnaire demanded relatively closed responses as well as straightforward question s. It also
included a series of scenarios that are likely to be encountered in teaching in early grades. Respondents were
then required to select responses to the scenarios which describe the most appropriate approach to teaching a
particular concept or skill in reading and mathematics. These responses then gave access to trainees‘
pedagogical content knowledge and likely pedagogical practice in reading and mathematics.
The task of understanding how initial training is put into operation involved collecti ng a data set on the
knowledge, understanding and practice of newly qualified teachers (yellow rectangle in figure 1). A sample of
schools was selected where teachers in the first year of their career (Newly Qualified Teachers: NQTs) were
working. In the 4 college districts selected for the study, a total of 23 basic schools where NQTs were located
were also sampled for school data collection. Thus, two schools each in rural, urban and peri -urban areas were
selected. All the NQTs (totalling 156) in the sampled schools who had taught before in any of the lower primary
classes also responded to the questionnaire. For the school qualitative data, 36 Reading and 34 Maths teachers
respectively (totalling 70) agreed to teach for observation and post-lesson interviews.
Video recordings of observed lessons in reading and mathematics by the NQTs were followed by forensic
interviews asking questions around details of practice, sequencing of tasks, and use of resources, progression
within the lesson and onwards towards the next, and use of language of instruction as against mother tongue or
local lingua franca. Again this form of interview was calculated to give a greater understanding of what teachers
actually know and can do than direct inference from observation. Interviews were informed by evidence of the
educational attainment of students from exercise books, records of assessment and where possible brief
interviews with students. Head teachers in all sample schools were also interviewed on the issue of NQT support
and management especially as related to teaching reading and mathematics. In addition a slightly adapted
version of the questionnaire used for trainees was given to NQTs.
The research design called for a similar approach to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes.
An initial survey of what is available in Ghana was mounted (pink rectangle). Subsequently, the National Literacy
Accelerated Programme (NALAP) was selected for investigation. This programme was chosen because it is the
most recent nationwide CPD based on a national bilingual bi-literacy programme, and had trained all lower
primary teachers to implement it. This gave an account of what the programmes were intending to achieve. As a
point of comparison the project collected data on the knowledge, understandings and practice of teachers who
had recently followed this CPD programme (orange rectangle in figure 1). This followed exactly the same
procedure of observation, interview and questionnaire as for the NQTs.
One more type of the data, those related to cost effectiveness were also collected. The approach to this is
described in detail in Chapter 5.
1.5.2. Data collection timelines
Data collection was between March and September 2010, within a period of 5 months. About 6 weeks was used
to organize and analyse the data, and the report was written in 3 months. Table 2 below shows the timelines for
each stage of the exercise.
13 | P a g e
Table 2 Timelines for data collection
Period
Data collected
March
Piloting of teacher educators and trainees‘ instruments at 1 COE
March
Piloting of NQTs‘ instruments at 2 schools
March
Finalization of instruments after piloting
April
COE data collection
May/July
NQTs‘ data collection
September
CPD data collection
SeptemberOrganization and analysis of data
October
NovemberReport writing
January
Duration
2 days
1 day
1 day
15 days
5 weeks
14 days
6 weeks
3 months
1.5.3. Challenges and Limitations
The process of fieldwork faced many challenges. In real world settings it is not always possible to construct ideal
samples where variables are controlled. For example respondents identified as NQTs may also have followed
CPD programs but the methods used enabled us to identify when this was the case and generally to ask where
practices derived. In Ghana, we faced specific challenges relating to the timing of the data collection especially
at the Colleges of Education. For both reading and mathematics, the methodology courses had been taught and
examined in the previous semester, and as would be explained in the interviews, the respondents seemed to
have forgotten what they had learnt in the courses about which we sought information. Moreover, we realized
that the trainees were unwilling to participate in a re-enactment of the lessons we wanted to observe. With
regard to the NQTs‘ lessons, we noticed that for the reading lessons, some of them were teaching for the first
time for the sake of the study. Therefore, in both the colleges and basic schools, the lessons only served as a
platform for us to interrogate how the teachers‘ learnt to teach rather than seeing them as typical of their
teaching.
1.5.4
Data Analysis
Analysis of the different data sets represented by the colored rectangles in figure 1 (pg. 10) enabled the project
to address the research questions. It did this by building up a detailed description of the knowledge,
understandings and practices of teachers during the different phases of preparation and using these as a basis
for comparing what is occurring in the field with what is intended. For the qualitative data interviews and focus
groups were transcribed and imported into the Nvivo 8 qualitative data analysis software along with other
appropriate texts such as summaries of observations. Data were coded and sorted into using a system of
hierarchical categories, most centrally those of knowledge, understanding and practice. This enabled patterns to
be identified and queries to be run.
Quantitative data were analyzed using STATA software. This enabled the project to work with a large data set
and to provide relevant tables and graphs. It was then possible to make relevant interpretations from descriptive
statistical methods with some use of inferential statistics such as the calculation of Pearson‘s Chi 2 to test for
independence.
1.6
Outline of Report
This report has five chapters. The first chapter described the rationale and context of this study. By doing this, we
located this study on teacher preparation within the perspective of the EFA goal of quality basic education.
Chapter two presents and discusses the relationship between the Reading and Mathematics curricular for
training teachers and those for lesson delivery in basic schools and Continuous Professional Development
(CPD). From this, we derive the expected pedagogical knowledge and skills teachers are expected to possess.
In Chapters three and four, we present the quantitative and qualitative data on how trainees learn to teach
reading and mathematics, and how these are enacted in the lessons of Newly Qualified Teachers (NQ Ts).
Chapter five brings out the issues emerging from the intended and espoused curriculum in respect of reading
14 | P a g e
and mathematics and the cost implications thereof. It also makes recommendations for the revision of the TT and
basic school reading and mathematics curricular and the provision of ongoing professional support for practising
teachers.
15 | P a g e
Chapter 2
Teacher Training and School Curriculum in Reading and Mathematics:
Differences, Similarities and Gaps
2.1 Introduction
This chapter discusses the Reading and Mathematics curricular for training teachers, for lesson delivery in basic
schools and Continuous Professional Development (CPD). The discussion begins with a general overview of the
teacher training curriculum, followed by a description of the content and delivery methods of the Reading and
Mathematics components of the teacher training and basic school programmes. There is also a description of the
reading component of the National Acceleration Literacy Programme (NALAP) programme. From the description
of the three programmes, conclusions are drawn about the kind of competences the curricular seek to develop in
teachers. Finally, the similarities and differences in the competences are used to draw policy implications for
training reading and mathematics teachers in Colleges of Education (COEs) in Ghana.
2.2 The General Overview of the Teacher Training Curriculum
Beginning from the 2004/2005, the COEs have run (and continue to run) a three-year six-semester Diploma in
Basic Education (DBE) programme which has consisted of a two-year residential course work in the college and
a one year practical training in schools under the supervision of experienced teachers. The two -year college
component consists of three semesters of academic studies in which subject matter content and pedagogy for
one semester is taught. Each semester‘s course work is expected to be completed in 14 weeks with an
additional 2 weeks for examinations, making a total of 16 weeks.
By providing instruction in academic content knowledge and pedagogy in all nine subjects of the basic school
curriculum, the DBE programme is ―geared towards the training of a generalist teacher who would be able to
teach at both Primary and J.S.S. levels‖ (Institute of Education, 2005, p. 1; emphasis in original). This rationale is
based on the notion that teachers should be able to ―specialise in either Primary Education or Secondary
Education as they climb the professional ladder. Furthermore, the resources available would be concentrated on
the effective training of one category of teachers‖ (ibid.). Consequently, the curriculum objectives of the DBE
programme are to:
1. produce generalist teachers capable of teaching all subjects at the Primary and JSS levels;
2. produce teachers who have a clear grasp of intended outcomes of their teaching activities, who are skilled in
monitoring (pupils‟ learning), diagnosing (pupils‟/classroom challenges) and appropriately providing equal
opportunity to all pupils; and
3. promote close working relationship between Teacher Training Colleges and local schools through the ―Out‖
component of the programme (Institute of Education, 2005, p. 2 my emphasis).
The designers of the programme believed that within the above broad objectives, the DBE programme will also:





enable teacher trainees who graduate with a diploma to upgrade themselves to B.Ed degree level at any
relevant tertiary institution;
establish a judicious balance between theoretical knowledge and teaching skills;
train teachers to be facilitators of learning;
produce teachers who are creative researchers in the classroom; and
support and monitor teacher trainees performance at college and during school-based study (Institute of
Education, 2005, p. 2).
16 | P a g e
It is important to mention that in Ghana the philosophy of basic teacher education, that is, whether the teacher
should be a ‗generalist‘ or a ‗specialist,‘ has been and continue to be an issue of debate among teacher
educators and researchers (see Institute of Education, 1986; Government of Ghana, 2002). From 1987 to date,
teacher education has been oscillating between general and specialist programmes as table 2 shows:
Table 3 Changes in Teacher Education Programmes in Ghana
Period/year
Type of Programme
Specialist
Generalist
1987-1996
1. Group I colleges: Science, Technical
Skills, Agricultural Science and
Mathematics
2. Like Skills, Vocational Skills, Social
Studies and Literature in English
1996-2000
All colleges prepared generalists to teach
at both primary and junior secondary
schools
2000-2004
1. 23 of 38 public colleges offering
Programme ‗A‘ prepared trainees for
primary schools
2. 15 colleges offering Programme ‗B‘ trained
teachers for junior secondary schools, with
emphasis on Science, Mathematics and
Technical Education
2002-2007
Training of generalists by all colleges
2007-to present
a. 15 colleges offer programmes in
Mathematics and Science.
b. 7 colleges train teachers in early
childhood development
Also, to promote the teaching of French in basic schools, three colleges, located in the northern, middl e and
southern zones of the country, offer French.
The recent reversion to the specialist training was based on a recommendation made by a committee appointed
by the Professional Board 2 of the Institute of Education to review the DBE programme. The Committee
recommended that teacher education ―should move away from the training of purely generalist teachers, to the
training of quasi-specialist teachers where teacher trainees would be able to study all core subjects and
specialise in at least two (2) subject areas‖ (Institute of Education, 2007, p. 1). Explaining its position, the
Committee noted that ―it was gradually becoming difficult and impossible for one person to teach every subject
with each subject area becoming more and more complex and voluminous in content‖ with the tendency ―that
where a teacher‘s competencies do not lie within the teaching of a particular subject he/she will never teach it
effectively after graduation‖ (ibid.). This recommendation led to some TTCs being assigned to offer special ist
programmes alongside the general programme.
Assessment forms a key component of teacher training in the COEs. The programme provides general
assessment criteria for all courses. This comprises continuous assessment conducted by each college and
external examination conducted by the Institute of Education, University of Cape Coast (but written in the
colleges) at the end of every semester. Continuous assessment weights 40% and the external examination
2
This is an executive body responsible for accrediting and authorising programmes and policies governing
teacher training colleges in Ghana. Its membership includes all Principals of the colleges, Directors of the GES,
representative of GNAT, WAEC and Deans of Faculties from the University of Cape Coast in cluding the Director
of the Institute of Education
17 | P a g e
weights 60% of the total score. For a trainee to graduate and be awarded the Diploma in Basic Education,
he/she must accumulate a maximum of 89 credits with the following:




A pass in all required subjects
Grade Point Average (GPA) of not less than 1.5 in all courses offered
Successful completion of the ‗OUT‘ component of the programme (i.e. one year practicum)
Successful completion of project work (Institute of Education, 2005).
It is important to note that to progress to the next level of the residential course work, trainees are required to
obtain a pass in all subjects or trail in not more than 3 subjects.
2.3
The Teacher Training Reading Curriculum
The TT curriculum for English Language Studies aims at improving the trainees‘ competence in English
generally. This is in consonance with the standards spelt out in the course structure (Revised Syllabus, 2005),
which suggests that the content of the programme ‗starts from the revision of Senior Secondary School (SSS)
work ...‘ (Institute of Education, 2005). The English Language Studies programme of the T T curriculum also
exposes trainees to the genres of literature and aims to develop and sharpen their skills in the teaching of
English as a foreign language. In the four semesters of course work, three semesters are devoted to the
teaching of subject matter content such as grammar, speech work, writing, literature as well as reading and
comprehension.
Generally, the syllabus recommends the adoption of teaching strategies which give priority to problem -solving,
decision making, critical and reflective thinking. It also indicates that student-centred and mentoring approaches
will be used in some cases, with the lecture method or unilateral interaction approach adopted in very few cases.
Again, it states that special emphasis will be placed on practical and tutorial sessions (Institute of Education,
2005).
Table 4: Summary of the TT English Language curriculum
Year
First Semester
Second Semester
First
Second
English Language Studies: grammar, speech work,
writing and reading)
1. FDC 211 (English Methodology: Curriculum
Studies, Theories of language acquisition;
Second Language Teaching; Language Skills,
Pre-reading skills/activities, Beginning reading,
Teaching reading comprehension: stages;
Teaching writing; Teaching grammar at primary
and JHS; Teaching spelling and dictation;
Language games; Lesson plan format and
features; TLM preparations
English with Elements of Literature:
literature, grammar, reading and writing)
(English with Elements of Literature:
literature, grammar, reading and writing)
As can be observed from table 2, the English language curriculum places much emphasis on the study of
language and literature. Although reading features in all the courses, much focus is on developing trainees‘
competence in reading and analysing the content of texts which is geared towards upper primary to secondary
rather than lower primary. The second year has fewer topics with the first semester of that year devoted to
teaching the methods of teaching reading and other topics. There are more topics covered in this semester (14)
than any in the three semesters of the TTC programme.
The 14 methodology topics are to be taught in 14 weeks in the second semester of the second year and are
intended to provide teachers with pedagogical knowledge and skills to teach the four English Language skills
(listening, speaking, reading and writing) at the primary and junior high school levels. Only three methodology
topics in the first semester of the second year are specifically related to how to teach reading at all levels o f the
18 | P a g e
basic school – that is from primary grade 1 to junior high, making up the 9-years of basic education. These are (i)
pre-reading skills and activities, (ii) beginning reading and, (iii) teaching the stages of reading comprehension.
These topics are expected to equip the trainees with knowledge and skills in the following areas:




Activities and skills that will indicate that children are ready for formal reading.
Two methods of teaching beginning reading, which are the ‗Look-and-Say‘ and the Phonic methods, as
well as the eclectic approach consisting of a combination of the two methods
Correction procedure which provides strategies for handling pupils‘ difficulties relating to reading and
The three stages for teaching reading comprehension known as preliminary stage, reading and postreading stage.
In conclusion, the language component of the TT programme places more emphasis on English Language
studies than on pedagogical knowledge and skills for teaching. Although reading forms part of the course wo rk
for every semester‘s work, this appears to be related much more to the requirements for teaching upper primary
and junior high school level than for lower primary. The curriculum assumes that the knowledge and skills that
trainees would acquire will be equally applicable for lower primary. Moreover, the methodology course in the
second year appears overloaded given the timeframe for covering all the topics. Table 3 shows the time
allocated to methods for teaching reading in the methodology course.
Table 5 Pedagogy for Reading and its relation to the Methodology Course
No. of wks No. of hours
Total no. of
No. of
Hours for
per
per wk
teaching hours
reading
teaching reading
semester
per semester
topics
per sem.
14
10
140
3
30
% of hours
used for
teaching
reading
21.4%
Since there are 10 teaching hours per week in the college timetable, this means that in total only 30 hours is
used to expose trainees to the methods of teaching for lower/upper primary and JHS. The conclusion is that very
little time is devoted to methodology for teaching reading in the lower primary.
2.4
The Primary Reading Curriculum
Three main items constitute the basic school curriculum materials. These are (a) the syllabus (b) the pupils‘
textbook and (c) the teacher‘s guide. The syllabus is designed around four general aims which seek to help the
pupil to:
1.
2.
3.
4.
develop the basic language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing,
attain high proficiency in English to help them in their study of other subjects as well as in the study of
English at higher levels,
cultivate the habit of, and interest in reading and
communicate effectively in English.(Ministry of Education (MOE), 2007)
According to the objectives of the primary reading curriculum following teachers‘ instruction , pupils should
develop the ability to (i) read, understand and derive information from texts of varied nature, and (ii) use reading
techniques to understand information in books. Table 4 outlines the content and teaching and learning activities
recommended in the lower primary syllabus and which teachers are expected to follow.
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Table 6: The Reading Component of the Lower Primary Syllabus
Primary 1
Content
1. Pre-reading
activities
a. Recognition and
discrimination of
objects
b. Manipulating
objects
c. Reading pictures
and talking about
them
d. Language games
e. Turning over the
pages of a book.
2. Introduction of
formal reading
a. Phonological
awareness
b. Letters of the
alphabet
c. Picture/object
and word
matching
d. Word recognition
e. Sentences of
about 4 words
Primary 2
Teaching and learning activities
 Improvise and use various pre
reading materials.
 Objects and picturerecognition/differentiation/matching
activities/games.
 Use simple jigsaw puzzles of pictures
with pupils in pairs/groups
 Picture description activities; using
pictures to tell stories.
 Prepare scrap books out of magazine
pictures, cut out and paste them on
paper.
 Guide pupils to prepare their own
scrap books in pairs/groups.
Content
1. Recognition of words
2. Phonic work
a. Recognition of
sounds in known
words – vowels
b. Sound discrimination
3. Introduction to reading
comprehension
a. Reading short
sentences in
passages/poems
Teaching and learning
activities

word cards for pupils
to pronounce and form
sentences, play
games
 pupils to arrange
themselves according
to the order of the
words to form a
sentence
 guide pupils to read
various sentence
cards.
 Phonic activities:
recognition of and
differentiation of
sounds, matching
letters with sounds,
minimal pairs, rhymes
and songs
 Reading of
sentences; pupils
answer very simple
questions and follow
instructions based on
what they have read.
Primary 3
Content
Reading aloud
Reading games
Silent reading
Phonic work
Word attack
Making and using picture dictionaries
1.
2.
3.
Teaching and learning activities










Teacher/pupils read out texts. Ensure correct pronunciation, stress and
intonation are used.
Record individual pupils‘ difficulties and help them to correct them.
Ask simple questions based on the texts/passages.
Use a variety of reading games, explain how they are played
Discuss pictures/titles of passages.
Discuss the meaning of selected words/expressions using real objects
and demonstration
Model reading: put pre-reading on chalkboard
Children read text silently within a specified time
Phonic activities: making the sounds of the individual letters known, using
phonic families, identification and recognition of sounds in initial, medial
and final positions
Guide pupils to make picture dictionaries, and let them use them for
various language activities.
(Source: Ministry of Education (2007) Teaching Syllabus for English Language, CRDD, Accra)
The curriculum makes three basic assumptions worth pointing out:


Firstly, that, teachers possess pedagogical knowledge and skills about visual and auditory
discrimination and comprehension skills which is to be used in pre-reading activities before formal
reading begins.
Secondly, teachers are skilled in using the two main methods of teaching formal reading, namely
phonics and ‗look-and-say‘, as well as skills in combining them to achieve the benefits of both.
20 | P a g e

2.5
Thirdly, that teachers possess skills in designing and using appropriate T eaching and Learning
Materials (TLMs) to teach reading at lower primary and actively engage all children in learning to read
whilst paying attention to those with reading difficulties.
The NALAP Curriculum
The most recent and nationwide CPD for teachers in the area of literacy is the ongoing National Literacy
Acceleration Programme (NALAP). NALAP is a bilingual bi-literacy programme for early primary school whic h
started in the third term (May, 2010) of the 2009/2010 academic year aimed at helping pupils learn to read in a
Ghanaian language while they learn to speak English. The NALAP approach is informed by research which
suggests that pupils learn to read and write better and faster in a language they know well, so that they can
transfer the literacy skills acquired in that language to learn to read a second language (EQUALL, 2010). Pupils
are not expected to read English until primary 2.
The programme lists standards and milestones for literacy that pupils are expected to achieve in Ghanaian
Languages, that is the pupils‘ first language (L1) and in English, their second language (L2) at each grade level.
The grade levels are classified into three bands namely (a) Kindergarten to -Grade 1, (b) Grades 2-3 and (c)
Grades 4-6 with milestones for each band organized according to critical components of reading and writing. In
all, there are three (3) standards and seven (7) critical components:

Print concepts, phonological awareness, decoding and word analysis, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension
and text selection.
Some of these components (e.g. decoding and word analysis, vocabulary and comprehension) are common to
all the three grade bands; whilst some apply only to two bands and others are specific to only one band. Specific
areas of knowledge and abilities under the critical components are to be achieved either in the L1 or L2. The
main features of the NALAP approach are as follows:




Standards and milestones set for every grade level
Formal reading starts in primary 2
Teaching and learning activities are implied in standards and milestones
Language(s) to be used to achieve specific concepts are stated for every grade level
(EQUALL, 2010)
The first concept (print concept) is developed in Kindergarten (Kg) and primary 1 in both L1 and L2, and is similar
to the pre-reading activities and skills that the TT curriculum trains teachers to teach at the basic school. The
other concepts namely phonological awareness, decoding and word analysis, vocabulary, fluency and
comprehension, which the TT programme also develops, are developed in piece meal at all the lower primary
classes except text selection which is reserved for the upper grades. Some of the specific areas of knowledge
and abilities under these critical components are to be achieved either in the L1 or L2. This is the case,
particularly, for Kg-1. In general, areas of knowledge and abilities for grades 2-3 and 4-6 are to be accomplished
in both languages. In this connection, the NALAP curriculum recommends that in the 90 minutes of a literacy
lesson, 80 minutes should be used to teach literacy in the local language of the area and 10 minutes for English
in Kg 1 and 70 minutes and 20 minutes respectively in Kg 2. By primary 1, this changes to 60 minutes and 30
minutes; in primary 2, 50 and 40 and in primary 3, 45 and 45 respectively.
Using the local language to develop a language base and conceptual knowledge and understanding around key
components is considered important to facilitate decoding, word analysis and comprehension, and it is based on
the assumption that the skills for learning to read in the local language is transferable to learning to read a
second language.
The NALAP curriculum treats the learning environment as important to support literacy instruction. It
recommends that:
21 | P a g e
Teachers should arrange the classroom space to allow pupils to talk to each other as they work together.
Furniture in the classroom should be well arranged to facilitate group learning. Pupils in each group should
be able to face one another so that they can interact with the other members in their group. Ideally, pupils
should be arranged in groups of four. This will allow them to share materials, discuss ideas, and learn
together (GES, 2006, p. 19).
This orientation is expected to be supported by learning materials (e.g. teacher guides, big books, conversational
posters, pupil books, readers, alphabet cards, etc.), and the creation of a non-threatening psycho-social learning
environment by the teacher. NALAP classrooms are expected to create learning centres as, ―areas for informal
literacy learning, such as library corners with books that pupils can read on their own and shopping corners with
empty things and boxes‖ (GES, 2006, p. 20). It is assumed that the NALAP classroom will be print rich with
displays of signs, labels from tins and boxes, stories that pupils have written, word displays, labelled art work,
charts and poems posted on the wall, is one of its defining features. All furniture and other objects in the
classroom are to be labelled in the local language for Kg-1 and, for grades 2-3, in the local language and
English.
Finally, the NALAP curriculum assumes that in a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual country such as Ghana, teachers
will be able to speak, read and write the local language of the area. This is an important assumption as this
ability on the part of teachers is a key to how successful they can be in applying the NALAP approach to
teaching reading. In the event that teachers lack this ability achieving this goal will be difficult.
2.6
The TTC, School and NALAP Curriculum: Similarities and
Differences
Table 5 summarises the main differences and similarities between the three reading curriculum. Bold highlights
indicate the main differences compared to the other curricula. We consider the three curriculum strands in terms
of four key areas.
Pre-reading skills and activities: In the TT course outline, there is reference to teaching the difference between
pre-reading skills and activities. Moreover, some (five) pre-reading skills are listed. Similarly, the school and
NALAP curriculum list topics that are to be taught. Whereas specific activities are listed in the school and
NALAP curricula, this is missing in the TTC curriculum.
Beginning reading: All three curriculum strands emphasise the phonics and ‗look and say‘ methods for
developing pupils‘ early reading skills. In the primary school syllabus the content and teaching/learning activities
for each grade level indicate equal use of both methods in the reading lessons.
Reading comprehension: The TTC, school and NALAP curriculum materials all indicate steps to use in teaching
reading comprehension mainly through the look and say method. Unlike the NALAP, both TTC and school
syllabus do not provide steps for teaching all other reading lessons (e.g. pre-reading activities, phonic and word
recognition activities).
Pedagogy: The TTC syllabus recommends adopting teaching strategies which give priority to problem-solving,
decision making, critical and reflective thinking. It expects trainees to develop an understanding of teaching as a
problem-solving activity with reflection at its centre. It also indicates that student-centred and mentoring
approaches will be used in some cases, with the lecture method or unilateral interaction approach used sparingly
(Institute of Education, 2005).
In stating the course objectives, specific action verbs are used to focus teachers‘ attention on the areas they are
expected to have acquired knowledge and competences in. For example, the objectives for the methodology
course are stated thus: By the end of the course, the student will be able to:
DO a comparative study of the basic curriculum materials;
APPLY the theories and approaches studied to teaching English ... and
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WRITE effective lesson notes to use in teaching English, DESIGN and USE appropriate TLMs for effective
lesson delivery (emphasis added).
Table 7: Differences and Similarities between the TT, School and NALAP curricular
Aspects
Pre-reading
Beginning reading
Reading comprehension
TTC
SCHOOL
 The course outline lists prereading topics to be taught
 There is no indication of
activities to use to develop
pre-reading skills, and how
to use them
 The look-and-say and
phonic methods are
presented as early reading
methods
 A combination of the lookand-say and the phonic
method is presented as an
eclectic approach for
teaching reading
 The syllabus lists prereading topics to be taught
 There are activities to use
to develop pre-reading
skills and how to use them



Pedagogies





Grade-level
outcomes
learning

It shows the
procedure/stages to use in
teaching reading
comprehension through the
look and say method
It does not show the
procedure/stages to use in
teaching reading through
the phonic method
It does give a variety of
activities to use to develop
word-recognition
It suggests the use of
problem-solving, decision
making, critical and
reflective thinking as
teaching strategies
Student-centred and
mentoring approaches are
to be used in some cases,
with the lecture method
The medium is instruction
is not explicitly stated for
the various grade levels
Teaching objectives
indicate behavioural,
observable (cognitive)
learning outcomes
TLM preparation is be
taught as a general topic
for all aspects of language
teaching
There are no explicitly
stated standards and
milestones for the grade
levels

The look-and-say and
phonic methods are
presented as early
reading methods
 A combination of the
look-and-say and the
phonic method is
presented as an eclectic
approach for teaching
reading
 It shows the procedure to
use in teaching reading
comprehension through
the look and say method
 It shows the procedure to
use in teaching reading
through the phonic
method
 It gives a variety of
activities to use to
develop word-recognition





NALAP

The standards and
milestones list pre-reading
topics
 There are activities to
develop pre-reading skills,
and how to use them
 The look-and-say and
phonic methods are
presented as early reading
methods
 A combination of the lookand-say and the phonic
method is presented as an
eclectic approach for
teaching reading
 It shows the procedure to
use in teaching reading
comprehension through the
look and say method
 It shows the procedure to
use in teaching reading
through the phonic method
 It gives a variety of
activities to use to develop
word-recognition

Pair and group work are
suggested in some cases
Teaching objectives
indicate behavioural,
observable (cognitive)
learning outcomes
The medium is instruction
is not explicitly stated for
the various grade levels
Every unit in the reading
programme is to be
taught with some TLMs
to be provided/prepared
by the teacher
Group work is
recommended in all literacy
lessons
 Teaching objectives
indicate behavioural,
observable (cognitive)
learning outcomes
 The medium of instruction
is explicitly stated for every
grade level
 Every unit in the reading
programme is to be taught
with TLMs which are preprepared and supplied
There are no explicitly
stated standards and
milestones for the grade
levels

There are explicitly stated
standards and milestones
and how to achieve them at
every grade level
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2.7
The Teacher Training Mathematics Curriculum
The TTC mathematics curriculum encompasses both subject content and pedagogical content knowledge
(methods) for teaching mathematics at primary and junior secondary level. Subject content and methods
courses are covered in the first two years. A summary of the structure and content of the TTC mathematics
course is provided in table 6. The first year is devoted solely to mathematics content knowledge and in the
second year, second semester, the focus is on methods of teaching primary and junior secondary mathematics.
Table 8: Overview of structure and content of the TTC curriculum
Year
First Semester
Second Semester
First
Second
Number and Basic Algebra
Geometry and Trigonometry
1. Statistics and Probability
1. Further Algebra
2. Methods of teaching primary school 2. Methods of teaching Junior Secondary school
mathematics
mathematics
The first year programme attempts to consolidate trainees‘ mathematics content knowledge. Many trainees enter
the programme with weak entry qualifying grades in the core subjects, including mathematics, which prompted
recommendations to use the first year of training to address gaps and weaknesses in trainees‘ subject content
knowledge, and which continues into the second year (Akyeampong 2003). The mathematics subject content
does not extend beyond the senior secondary school level.
There is an emphasis in the mathematics education curriculum on theories of how children learn Mathematics
and which draws on ideas from Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, Zoltan Dienes and Richard Skemp and applies
them to teaching primary mathematics. It does appear, from the stated objectives of the methods course, that a
mixture of teacher-centred and child-centred approaches to teaching and learning mathematics is equally valued.
There is no hint of the importance of teachers‘ knowledge as situated and emerging from understanding how
children engage with mathematics and the challenges they face in their understanding. The objectives of the
methods component of the curriculum capture a broad range of skills and abilities that trainees are expected to
develop or acquire following their training to teach mathematics in basic schools (see table 7).
Table 9: Objectives of Mathematics Methods Component of TTC Curriculum
PFC 212
By the end of the course, the student will be able to:
1. Identify factors that contribute to the inclusion and exclusion of topics for the primary
mathematics
2. Explain how children acquire the concept of number and design appropriate activities to enable
children perform numerical operations
3. Illustrate various activities that children can be engaged in to develop their understanding of
mathematical concepts and relationships
4. Discover various geometrical concepts and how they could be introduced to children
5. Identify various ways of assessing children’s learning in mathematics
6. Solve mathematical problems and assist children to develop strategies for tackling problems in
mathematics
7. Explore ways in which the calculator and ICT could be used to enhance learning and problem solving by children
Trainees are also required to develop skills in lesson preparation using a fairly structured and prescriptive
approach starting from an introduction to main lesson development before the conclusion of the lesson.
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2.8 The Primary Mathematics Curriculum
The primary school mathematics curriculum for the early grades places much emphasis on developing children‘s
numeracy skills as the foundation for further learning in mathematics. Furthermore, for all the primary grades
(i.e. grades 1-6) children are expected to develop skills in using numbers competently, read and interpret
numerical data, reason logically, solve problems involving calculations, as well as communicate using
mathematical data and interpretations. The curriculum objectives for the first three years of primary school are
the same for upper primary. Topics for teaching are sequenced and sub-divided under units, with each unit
structured according to a teaching sequence. The curriculum point out that, because pupils learning of
mathematics progresses at different rates teachers should provide differentiated instruction and support in the
early years‘ in which a child is learning basic mathematics.
One observation of the primary mathematics curriculum is the sheer volume of material teachers are expected to
get through (see table 8 below). For example, pupils in primary one (6/7 year olds) are expected to be able to
add and subtract numbers up to 99, and cover as many as 15 topics in their first year. For the TTCs it raises
the issue of programme time to systematically study these topics as part of the requirement for learning to teach
primary mathematics.
Table 10: Overview of structure and content of the first three years of primary math curriculum
Unit Primary 1
Primary 2
Primary 3
1
Pre-Number Work
Numbers and Numerals 0 - 100
Numbers and Numerals
0 - 10,000
2
Groups of Objects
Addition 0 - 18
Addition and Subtraction
(Sum up to 9999)
3
Counting Objects
Subtraction 0 - 18
Length and Area
4
Numbers and Numerals I
Numbers and Numerals
Fractions I
0 - 1,000
5
Addition (Up to 5)
Measurement of Length, Capacity and
Collecting and Representing
Mass(weight)
Data as graph
6
Solid Shapes
Addition (Sums
Estimating and Measuring
0 - 99)
Capacity and mass (weight)
7
Number and Numerals II
Subtraction With Numbers Less Than
Multiplication of numbers
100
8
Addition Sums up
Fractions
Division
to 9
9
Subtraction 0 – 9
Measurement of Time and Money
Plane Shapes
10
Ten and Ones
Addition
Measurement of Time and
(Sums 0 - 999)
Money
11
Addition and Subtraction
Subtraction (Numbers Less Than 1000) Fractions II
12
Measurement of Length,
Multiplication
Capacity
and Mass
13
Measurement of Time and Division
Money
14
Collecting and Handling
Collecting and Handling Data
Data
15
Addition and Subtraction of Shape and Space
Numbers (0 - 99)
2.9
Comparing Primary and TTC Maths Curriculum
Trainees are required to study the primary school mathematics curriculum, and the methods of teaching all the
topics outlined in the primary school mathematics curriculum (see Institute of Education, 2005 p. 34). Both
25 | P a g e
curricula begin with general description, objectives and outline of topics to be covered. The main difference is
that in the primary school curriculum the topics/content are developed into teaching units with suggested
teaching learning activities. The recommended teaching learning activities in the school curriculum encourages
active participation of pupils in learning mathematics. In the TTC training materials emphasis is placed on
student-centred approaches to teaching, and with the use of concrete materials where the students are actively
involved in the teaching and learning process.
The TTC mathematics curriculum does not provide an explicit framework for developing competencies for
primary teaching. Although there is recognition of an early stage (lower primary) and later stage (upper primary
and junior secondary), in the design of the curriculum, no detailed specification of competencies trainees are
expected to develop and linked to student learning outcomes in the lower and upper grade levels, is pro vided. In
fact, the training syllabus and the mathematics handbook for tutors and students‘ activities do not present topics
and activities according to some specification of requirements for teaching lower primary mathematics.
2.10 Conclusion
This chapter has explored the interaction and implications of the TTC and school reading and mathematics
curriculum for learning to teach in lower primary. It has also examined the innovative NALAP programme and
compared it with the TTC reading curriculum, identifying similarities and differences. There are a number of
important conclusions that we draw from the analysis of the three curriculum strands in relation to learning to
teach reading and mathematics, and what the school curriculum expects teachers to be able to do.
1) The organisation of learning to teach reading and mathematics for lower primary is based on acquiring
in-depth knowledge of language (reading) and mathematics as the foundation for learning to teach
these subjects. Both English and Mathematics TT curriculum devote a disproportionate amount of time
on subject content knowledge compared to PCK.
2) The two approaches to teaching reading, phonics and ‗look and say‘ are given prominence in both the
TTC and school curriculum, as well as in the NALAP. The NALAP approach introduces a notion of
learning to read which is absent in the TTC – the importance of local language as a bridge to learning to
read English. Also, the kind of learning environment conducive for learning to read is emphasised in
NALAP but completely missing in the TTC curriculum
3) There is clearly an emphasis on acquiring a set of knowledge on how to teach reading, but which does
not draw attention sufficiently enough on learning from practice. What trainees need to know in order to
teach reading is all situated in the environment of the college classroom without reflection on the kinds
of adaptations and improvisations that might be required in actual classroom contexts with children from
literate and illiterate backgrounds
4) It is evident from the TTC mathematics course structure that trainees are expected to acquire
knowledge and understanding of the primary mathematics curriculum, in terms of its general aims,
objectives, scope of content, structure and organisation of the syllabus. It is expected that trainees will
acquire these from studying primary curriculum materials, including textbooks. The programme allots
only one week out of 16 weeks for developing competence in this area, which makes it unlikely that the
study of the materials would be thorough, critical and reflective.
5) The focus on learning about how children learn mathematics in the primary mathematics curriculum is
an acknowledgement of the fact that teachers need to know about how young learners acquire
mathematical knowledge, and use this knowledge in planning their lessons. However, knowledge of
how Ghanaian children, often in mixed-ability and mix age classrooms would respond to instructional
practices based on theories of how children learn mathematics is not raised in the TTC curriculum.
Studies have established that the age and ability range of children in Ghanaian primary schools is very
wide, especially in primary 1 to 3 (see, Akyeampong 2009), which makes this issue particularly
important in terms of adapting instructions in response to such differences.
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Chapter 3
Learning to Teach Reading
3.1 Introduction
This chapter explores the process of learning to become a lower primary (grades 1-3) reading teacher from
college to the first year of teaching in school. The chapter analyses teacher educators‘ knowledge and
understanding of early reading and how to teach it to beginners, and how teacher trainees are prepared in
college to teach it. It also explores how the knowledge and understanding of teaching trainees acquire is utilised
or modified/changed once they are exposed to real classrooms. This chapter also describes the knowledge,
understanding and practices of experienced teachers who have gone through Continuous Professional
Development (CPD) and compares these with those of Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs).
3.2
Reflections on training
Of the eight teacher educators who participated in the study, six had received training in the methods of teaching
English language but felt the training was generally inadequate as far as teaching in the college was concerned.
For those who had specialised in English in their first degree, very little of the degree programme had focused on
learning to teach English, or more generally, languages. Tutors also complained about difficulties in accessing
relevant teaching and learning materials and poor library facilities as hampering their effectiveness as these two
comments indicate:
“… Books are difficult to come by. When I was asked to go and teach these topics I was
fumbling. I didn‟t know where to go and begin.
“You don‟t get the references and that makes teaching methodology very difficult”.
When asked about how they had developed their knowledge and skills in training teachers to teach reading, three
areas were mentioned: (a) from their own experience after years of practice, (b) from reading other sources of
information about teaching (e.g. distance education teacher training modules for training untrained teachers,
teaching pamphlets prepared by more experienc ed colleagues), and (c) from insights gained as a result of
consultations with more experienced colleagues. Two tutors mentioned that they still draw on what they learnt
from INSETs on teaching reading organised in the 1990s, but which were now unavailable. These INSETs had
been good in boosting their confidence in teaching reading in the COE.
I remember when we came, there were those ODA (Overseas Development Agency)
workshops that make you a bit confident because it told you what you were supposed to do and
so on and it wasn‟t once; it was several times in a year.
According to the two, the ODA sponsored workshops produced training manuals which had guidelines on how to
teach various aspects of English Language, including reading. Finally, the tutors identified as lacking their
knowledge of language learning theories and their significance for learning to teach reading. Tutors said they
had to rely on teaching pamphlets as their main reference for teaching reading.
3.2.1
Accessing instructional materials
Tutors relied heavily on teaching pamphlets which are popular in the colleges, course outlines with details of
topics to teach, basic school materials especially English textbooks, and INSET materials if these were available.
As noted in chapter 2, the COE English language curriculum on reading makes references to the basic school
syllabus, pupils‘ textbooks and teachers‘ guide as documents for learning about teaching reading. Tutors
27 | P a g e
indicated that these were referenced in their preparation to teach, but from the way in which they delivered their
lessons, it was not clear how much of these materials featured prominently in their preparation and teaching.
3.2.2 What is reading and the best way of teaching children to read?
Teacher educators‘ explanation of what reading is focused on three main ideas. First there were those who
explained reading in terms of the ability to decode print with the aid of phonics and attach meaning to decoded
print/words. Reading meant having the ability to differentiate between letter-names and their sounds (phonics),
and using this ability to blend and pronounce sounds (phonemes). The second idea stressed more the ability to
pronounce sight words; match words on the board or on word cards with printed material and attach meaning to
them. A third view was that reading had to do with deriving meaning from print and that ultimately this
distinguished between those who had learnt to read and those who hadn‘t.
They agreed to the idea that learning to read was a gradual process and should reflect the differentiated
linguistic levels of the children in primary 1, 2 and 3. They viewed reading as progressive, which should start with
the identification of letters of the alphabet and their sounds, then move to recognition of sight words, reading
words in sense groups, sentences, and finally longer texts in paragraphs. In the very early stage of learning to
read (e.g. primary 1), teachers should place emphasis on reading aloud words or group of words while in primary
3, silent reading or reading comprehension should be the norm with each stage requiring a suitable teaching
approach which reflects their level of maturity.
Tutors explained that teaching of reading should reflect stages of children‘s development, and esp ecially in their
formative years, also known as the concrete operational stage, because children are unable to operate at the
abstract level concrete or real objects and pictures should be used to help them understand what they read.
“They cannot think so abstract, so if you bring the real objects they see it in their various
homes so that they can easily associate it with the lesson”.
In addition they explained that pupils should be presented opportunities to imitate/repeat words to develop good
pronunciation and reading skills. The use of games, rhymes, songs and activities were also mentioned as
important in helping children to read. Some of the objectives tutors emphasised as important for teachers to
achieve if they are to help children read are the following:




Matching pictures with words,
Ability to identify and pronounce new words,
Ability to read aloud (a specified number of sentences or paragraphs),
Ability to answer questions based on the text that has been read.
One tutor in particular drew attention to the importance of language acquisition device theory as informing his
knowledge and approaches to teaching reading. According to him, every child is biologically endowed with
language, and as such, has the capability to learn a new language. This necessitated his use of group and
individual activities to give every child the opportunity to participate in oral activities at the beginning of his lesson
and to identify the letters, sounds, words and sentences on cards at the end.
Basically tutors explained that in teaching reading it was important to start by identifying the appropriate methods
for the grade, and then develop a systematic instructional sequence whilst including the use of activities and
TLMs for visual effect. When asked to demonstrate the teaching of a reading lesson, tutors usually used either
the ‗phonics approach‘ or ‗look-and-say‘ (whole words or sentences), and never in combination. But they seem
to be aware of the importance of combining the two, given their limitations in teaching the whole range of words
that pupils might need to know in early primary:
Phonetic work cannot apply for sight words so modelling will do. And also the look and say
method is also there. So it is a blend of methods that will do.
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They were also aware of other approaches that might have been useful, citing the syllabic, alphabet and eclectic
methods. Their understanding of the syllabic method compares with phonemic awareness (PA) instruction,
which involves teaching children to focus on and manipulate phonemes in spoken syllables and words (NRP,
2000). Phonemes work like phonics when sounds are blended to produce words. The alphabet method on the
other hand, is used to teach children to identify the names of the letters of the alphabet. These three (alphabet,
phonics and phonemes instruction) come under the umbrella of the alphabetic which is the first element of the
five proposed by the NRP (2000) and Center for Education (2010). It is interesting to note that in their
explanation of other methods that could be used to teach reading (i.e. the alphabet, syllabic and phonics), they
all seemed to operate only at the level of the first element of the reading programme, which is the alphabetic.
In terms of sequencing a reading lesson tutors outlined three steps: (i) preliminary reading stage, (ii) the actual
reading and the (iii) post-reading stage. Every reading lesson, in their view, should follow this sequence – a
preliminary reading stage involving vocabulary work and prediction activities, though not in any particular
sequence. A reading stage where the emphasis should be on model reading demonstrated by either the teacher
or good reader in the class, and finally the post-reading stage, where questions that aim to explore the
meanings/interpretations of what has been read are asked. The post-reading stage, they explained, should
access reading comprehension through the use of oral or written questions. A more detailed analysis of their
teaching practices is presented in section 3.2 in this chapter.
Although the teacher educators appeared to have good knowledge about reading and teaching it, their practice
as we observed tended to gravitate towards the ‗look-and-say‘ approach and was transmission-based. For
example, some simply explained to trainees the importance of showing pupils how to pronounce words without
demonstrating and discussing the possible results and unintended consequences and how one might address
them. Their lesson demonstrations did not address the possibility of difficulties that some children might have in
learning to read and what actions/steps teachers would have to take to overcome difficulties. For example,
research suggests that phonics helps children from poorer backgrounds to develop early reading ability th an
reliance on whole word (i.e. look-and-say) approach. As Abadzi (2006) points out, the whole-word approach may
be effective for middle-class English speaking children, or children from rich urban backgrounds, whose parents
can support their efforts (p 45). Nevertheless, such issues or questions about practice were not raised by the
tutors in the follow-up interviews after observing their teaching.
Although the literature suggests that both phonics and phoneme instructions are useful for helping beginning
readers to blend sounds to produce words (Trudell & Schroeder, 2007), in their explanation of what constitutes
reading, the teacher educators appeared to place more emphasis on the alphabetic, vocabulary and phonics
elements of reading and not on the other two (i.e. fluency and text comprehension).
3.2.3 Barriers to learning from practice
Another aspect of the TT programme whose importance the teacher educators highlighted was the practical
component (on-campus peer teaching practice) which is conducted after lecture hours. Each trainee is given only
about two opportunities to peer-teach any given aspect of language (i.e. oral work, grammar, composition or
reading at any grade level), for 20 minutes. According to the tutors, apart from the fact that this did not offer
them enough exposure to practice, trainees undervalued it, and sometimes skipped the practice. In this case,
the blame was laid at the door of the TT examinations.
Preparation of Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs) was also considered to be an important practical training
activity for a reading teacher. Here again, it was reported that trainees undervalued the exercise. A tutor cited the
case in his college where trainees did not attach much importance to it because it is not examin able.
“We have a programme here where preparation of materials for teaching is one of the
courses that they (i.e. trainees) do. Students have seen that it is not examinable so during
that lesson when they are supposed to prepare materials to assist them in their teaching
they fail to attend because they think it is not examinable”.
29 | P a g e
These meant that trainees showed less interest in working through training activities to acquire speci fic skills in
teaching reading. Generally, tutors felt that the TT programme was examination-oriented, and responsible for
encouraging negative attitudes towards practical learning activities in the colleges and created demand for
‗teaching pamphlets‘ among trainees. Furthermore, they pointed out that the poor supply of tra ining materials
had encouraged the production of un-refereed tutor notes which focused on providing definitions and
descriptions of terms, listing and providing model answers to past examination questions. In addition they opined
that because trainees are not exposed to typical examples of teaching and learning activities that teachers and
pupils are expected to be engaged in to foster reading competence, much of their knowledge and understanding
of reading was theoretical.
Consequently, to the question, what kind of teacher would emerge to teach in primary schools, there was a
sense that trained teachers are likely to lack skills in effective application of knowledge, and would struggle when
faced with the inevitable challenges of classroom teaching, with many unlikely to be resourceful and creative in
their teaching practices. Mastery of subject matter, skills in lesson notes and TLM preparation were considered
the basic ingredients to be successful primary school teachers. The teacher educators were m uch more
concerned with the effect inadequate training resources and the examinations culture was having on trainees‘
image of what counted as teaching knowledge. Despite such misgivings, the overall sense was that the training
in college did its job of preparing a basic school teacher to teach reading.
3.3 Teacher educators’ teaching practices
Teacher educators demonstrated how to teach either reading aloud or reading comprehension for primary 1, 2
and 3. Five used the ‗look-and-say method‘, two used the ‗phonic method‘ and one gave a lecture on pre-reading
activities and skills. One of the tutors who mixed the phonics and ‗look-and-say‘ methods in his demonstration
lesson to primary 3 had this to say about why the ‗look-and-say‘ is used: ‗there are some words you cannot use
the sound (to teach), for example, words like „the‟, we call it look- and-say‟. So according to him, the teacher has
to ‗take them a step forward, by giving them the phonic method … then you want them to be independent
readers‟. This tutor integrated phonics instruction with other reading instruction in vocabulary work, fluency and
text comprehension to create a complete reading programme as proposed by the NRP (2000), whereas the
others used mainly two or three reading instructions (i.e. in vocabulary, fluency and comprehension).
Basically, all the lessons followed a common presentational structure – an introduction of the stages of the
reading lesson which were listed as the preliminary reading stage, the main reading and post-reading stages with
activities that go with each stage.
In the preliminary reading stage, two main activities were introduced: vocabulary work and prediction activities.
The tutors explained that the activities here were for language enrichment, and that vocabulary should be taught
in context, with pictures, demonstration, simple explanation, etc, after which pronunciation drill should follow.
After that, prediction activities using pictures, real objects or the title of the text should follow. They told trainees
what kinds of materials to use, such as pictures, word cards and real objects. In the demonstration lessons,
some tutors demonstrated how the materials should be used. They asked trainees to observe pictures and
describe them, or match word cards with pictures, which the trainees did without raising any questions. Although
these activities aimed at exposing trainees to how to develop pupils‘ visual discrimination and oral language
skills, with the exception of one tutor, none of the others raised questions about the challenges of practice when
confronted with real life classrooms where the conditions would be very different (e.g. large class size, fewer
learning materials etc) from college classrooms. The trainees did not raise any questions on this issue during
their interviews.
Tutors pointed out that during the reading stage, there should be prediction and comprehension questions on the
board for pupils to find information as they read. They should also provide model reading or ask a ‗good‘ rea der
to read aloud, ask pupils‘ to read silently and at the same time elicit answers to questions about the passage
written on the chalkboard. Other reading activities trainees were to note included: pupils matching names with
objects, pictures or real objects, reading words and sentences aloud individually, as a whole class and in small
groups, writing prediction questions on the board, etc.
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At the last stage of the lesson, teacher educators either supplied the activities to be used or elicited them from
trainees. Mainly, these were oral or written questions based on the passage or blank-filing exercises on
vocabulary work, depending on the pupils‘ language/writing ability. Contrary to what research suggests about the
use of multiple strategies (e.g. summarising, generating questions of the text, using diagrams, maps and
pictures, etc.) to enhance text comprehension (NRP, 2000), as was described in chapter 1, section 1.3.1, we
observed that all the teacher educators used mainly two strategies (prediction and questions based on the text),
which they also described in the interviews.
With regard to their delivery methods, basically all of them used the lecture approach and in some instances
supplied answers to questions trainees‘ asked without engaging in further discussion or debate. The lessons
involved pointing out, explaining and describing the structure, techniques and strategies for teaching reading. All
interactions were mostly two-way – from teacher to students and vice versa. Only three tutors out of the eight
organised their lessons differently. One lesson which was remarkable was conducted by an experienced teacher
educator, drawing on his 17 years teaching experience. He first asked the trainees to reflect on how the absence
of certain activities such as the revision of relevant previous knowledge (RPK), prediction and while-reading
activities would affect reading. He later explained that his approach to teaching reading had been acquired
through in-service training earlier on in his teacher training teaching career and the experience he has gathered
over the years. He had earlier explained the importance of being guided by the language acquisition device
theory to nurture an environment for early learners to develop their reading skills.
3.4 Summary
The Ghanaian teacher educators‘ knowledge and understanding of reading were demonstrated in their
explanation of what constitutes reading, their concentration on the behaviourist theory which showed in the
statement of their lesson objectives, their knowledge of the four methods of teaching reading (i.e. alphabet,
syllabic, phonics and the ‗look-and-say‘) as well as the common principles and techniques they all talked about
as the procedure for teaching reading. It must be noted that their explanations reflected three (alphabetic,
phonics and vocabulary) elements of reading but not the five (fluency and text comprehension in addition) as the
literature recommends for a reading programme. In their description of activities for the reading lesson however,
fluency and text comprehension were implied though they exhibited knowledge of only two of the seven
comprehension strategies that are known to be effective tools for helping readers to interact with text (Center for
Education, 2010).
It must be noted again that while the teacher educators expressed their understanding of reading in terms of
alphabetic, phonics and vocabulary, they taught and described the reading lesson in relation to vocabulary,
fluency and comprehension. Although they recognise the importance of phonics and phoneme instruction as a
strategy of helping beginning readers to read independently as is also highlighted in the literature (Slavin et al.,
2009), they did not use it in their lessons. These understandings and practices have implications for how trainees
have developed their own knowledge and understanding of teaching reading, as the next section points out.
3.5 Trainees’ knowledge and understanding of teaching reading
3.5.1 Reflections on training
Eight focus group interviews with trainees (2 in each of the 4 COEs) attempted to find out what trainees thought
about the value of their training, reflections on learning to teach reading as witnessed in the lesson we had just
observed, and perceptions about their competence to teach reading in lower primary as a result of their training.
On their reflections of training and how adequately it prepared them to teach, the general feeling was that equal
emphasis should be placed on subject content knowledge and PCK, as opposed to the current situation where
only one semester out of three is used for methods of teaching. Many felt more time should be devoted to
teaching methods so they would be better prepared to teach in basic schools. Again, the consensus was that,
the current emphasis on subject knowledge (i.e. content) did little to inform what they needed to know and do
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when it came to teaching in primary or junior secondary schools, and that, the content courses basically repeated
what they had been taught in secondary school. One striking observation from the interviews was the way in
which trainees expressed confidence in their ability to teach reading in lower primary, based on what they had
been learning in college. At the root of this confidence was a rather simplistic and instrumental understanding of
what teaching reading required – knowledge of different methods – mainly the phonic and look-and-say
approach, and knowledge of TLMs required for teaching reading.
But there was also a sense that training was ‗rushed‘ to cover the vast topics and consequently, tutors were
prone to using the lecture approach instead of adopting a more reflective approach based on practical activities
to develop understanding of practical knowledge. From the trainees‘ accounts, there seem s to be differences in
experiences of learning to teach between colleges due mainly to differences in instructional resource base of the
colleges, and tutors‘ approaches in teaching. Time and again, the teacher educators and trainees mentioned
examinations as constraining the learning experience. Trainees in one rural-located college for example,
expressed frustration due to these factors:
―Each tutor complains that they can‘t complete the syllabus and we restrict ourselves to just
a few of them. And then few too, they don‘t take their time‖.
―They are many (variety of methods) but because of the semester (system), they (tutors) are
not able to introduce all of them to us; just a few that we learn‖.
―They (tutors) just read what is in the book and we just go and then we write our semester
exams‖.
Trainees expected tutors to focus on demonstrating how reading lessons would be taught in schools – they
expected tutors‘ teaching practice to emulate processes and methods that they were likely to use when de livering
similar lessons in schools. Trainees felt tutors were not adopting an activity- oriented approach in teaching
because they felt explanations were enough since they were mature learners:
―Some of them (tutors) prefer using the lecture method than the activity method.
They say we are advanced (i.e. more mature learners). If it is the way that we will
teach, it will be very, very difficult‖.
Trainees‘ impression of the training they had received in how to teach reading as has been described above
shows that it is much more content-laden, rushed, with little practical activities and reflective approaches to
develop a better understanding of teaching real schools. Consequently, though they expressed confidence in
teaching reading in lower primary, this was simply because they could articulate two main methods for teaching
reading (i.e. phonic and ‗look-and-say‘), a set of procedures and TLMs required for teaching reading. One of the
characteristics of a successful reading programme is that it changes trainees‘ knowledge and beliefs about
reading through using explicit examples and teacher educators‘ model of the pedagogic strategies they are
teaching their trainees to use (Center for Education, 2010). Therefore, the Ghanaian teacher trainees‘
understandings show their need for examples of pedagogic strategies through practical exposure (Risko et al.
2008).
3.5.2 Knowledge base of teacher trainees and their understandings of teaching reading
Primary school curriculum
Trainees were familiar with 3 main curriculum materials: (i) the teachers‘ handbook, (ii) pupils‘ textbooks and (iii)
the syllabus, but only possessed copies of the syllabus. Experiences varied when it came to exposure to these
materials. Whilst some had had the opportunity to interact with copies of the teachers‘ handbook and pupils‘
textbooks when on school attachment, others said they had no such experience. They expressed rather basic
knowledge of the school curriculum materials. For example, they had some idea of their content, and exp lained
that the teachers‘ handbook was supposed to be a reference material for preparing lessons, and contained
specific information on how to teach topics in the textbooks. There was also a sense that as teachers, they
needed to engage with the content of the textbooks using appropriate questioning techniques, to promote
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understanding in reading. Generally, they had superficial knowledge of the teacher‘s handbook and the pupils‘
textbook, as they could not explain in detail the structure and content of these materials, and specific ideas about
reading they promoted. This seems to confirm an earlier point that trainees suffered from practical exposure to
these important materials, especially how to use them in preparation for teaching reading. It is quite c lear that the
opportunity to critique and work through school curriculum materials as part of learning how to teach reading is
not a common practice. Trainees, therefore, would enter the classroom without a fundamental understanding of
the whole primary reading curriculum. For example, they may lack understanding of the connections between
different approaches to reading, and how to interpret and translate the different ideas/examples/suggestions in
the teachers‘ handbook and primary textbooks into structures for learning to read.
Knowledge of teaching reading
Trainees‘ knowledge of reading was expressed variously in relation to the different levels of beginning reading
(primary 1, 2 and 3), and purposes for reading (reading aloud or for comprehension). It was also expressed in
terms of picture reading and description, pronunciation through phonetic awareness or sight-word identification
and attaching meaning to words or texts. Based on what they had learnt from their teacher educators, some
trainees saw the use of phonics as crucial to reading, and useful for developing independent reading ability,
phonological awareness and word-attack skills in pupils. This was explained thus:
They gave us some strategies like phonic approach. That one, you write the word that the
pupils find difficult to pronounce on the board. Then you will isolate the letters that make up
the word then you teach them the sounds of those letters in the words.
They thought that individual sounds should be taught first, followed by combination of sounds, before children
are introduced to reading. One trainee described the approach in detail:
“I would first of all, teach them sounds of the various letters. Then I would go through the
two sounds and after that I would go beyond three, four, then I would introduce them to the
reading so that when they are reading they would not find it difficult to pronounce certain
words”.
Much of how they explained reading and how to teach it mirrored what was portrayed by their tutors in their views
and practice. Where a tutor had expressed the view that phonics is a fundamental approach to securing
children‘s reading, his trainees expressed a similar view, stressing that reading involved using sounds to
pronounce words. Although many acknowledged that the phonic method was a more superior way of teaching
children to read independently, not many seemed ready and willing to use it. There was an impression that it
was laborious and time-consuming. Besides, they were unsure of how to deal with letters with confusing sounds
(e.g. /c/ and /k/), which seemed to reflect a level of superficiality with how the method was to be used in teaching.
Others who had had more exposure to the ‗look-and-say‘ method explained teaching reading as pronouncing
words and attaching meaning to a reading passage with the aid of TLMs such as pictures, real objects and word
cards, as these two examples illustrate:
I will first allow them to talk about the pictures before we bring out the names of the pictures.
I think if the children are able to bring out something about the pictures it will facilitate the
learning more than the teacher telling them much about the pictures.
You need to make sure that the students are able to pronounce every word. You have to be
able to teach them the right words.
Trainees expressed confidence in their ability to teach using the ‗look-and-say method‘, compared to the phonic
method. Their views can be grouped under two variations: (i) the whole-word, and (ii) sentence approach and
associated techniques for each. A common view was that the ‗look-and-say‘ works best when pictures/sketches
or real objects are used to teach the meaning of words.
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There was a third group of trainees who stressed the importance of applying the two methods (i.e. phonics and
‗look-and-say‘) together to aid with pronunciation and to help children attach meaning to what they read through
TLMs. In summary, three types of knowledge about reading were noted.



Using the individual sounds and their combination to pronounce words (i.e. the use of the phonic
method).
Using the ‗look-and-say‘ method accompanied by TLMs such as pictures, word cards and real objects.
Combining the phonic and look-and-say methods.
There seemed to be strong similarities between the predominant approach or understanding of reading from
tutors and how trainees expressed their own understanding. Basically, much of this focused on theoretical
perspectives without reference to the learner (child), or critique of the methods from a practical point of view.
This, of course, reflects the fact that the training projects a static idea of reading. What it does not convey is a
profound sense of how teachers organise the different approaches and facets of reading into ideas in relation to
teaching context. In other words, training failed to diagnose what actually happens in the process of learning to
read. There was no mention or discussion of their school experiences of learning to read, and how any of that
related to how they were learning to teach reading.
‘Rules of Practice’ – stages in teaching reading
All the trainees described three stages in the presentation of a reading lesson, accompanied by specific
activities as described also by their tutors: (i) the preliminary reading stage where vocabulary work and prediction
activities are done to prepare pupils for the reading and to facilitate understanding, (ii) the reading which included
model reading by the teacher or good readers, followed by prediction and while-reading questions to develop
meaning and understanding of the text and (iii) the post-reading stage which is meant for testing comprehension
through oral or written questions. They added that brainstorming, question and answer technique, demonstration
and role play, among others could be used to help achieve the aims of the stages. Some, however, expressed
reservations about the use of demonstrations because they were time-consuming, and would disadvantage
weaker students. These reservations were not from the result of experiment or experience, but simply based on
theoretical perceptions.
The TLMs mentioned were word cards and reading charts, pictures and real objects. It is evident that the
trainees had developed a structured sequence for teaching reading that must come from their tutors, who
described a similar approach. It is important to point out the lack of reference to practical and personal
conceptions that drew on context. But, clearly, what we observe here is a focus on ‗rules of practice‘, and
nothing about fundamental adjustments that might reflect context, practical or personal knowledge.
Role of TLMs in reading
It was evident that trainees viewed the use of TLMs as essential for boosting pupils‘ understanding in reading.
I know the children like pictures so I would by all means send pictures to the class so that
they will study the pictures first, then we would talk about it.
We learnt that teaching meaning is also part of reading so that the pupil will read and
understand it well. And we were taught that to do so, you need to present some materials,
that is, if possible some real materials.
Apart from using the TLM, trainees pointed out that meaning of a passage or word could be enhanced by the use
of simple explanation in English or the local language. Interestingly, none of the trainees mentioned learning to
read in the local language as helpful for children learning to read in English.
In addition to teaching the meaning of words with appropriate TLMs, all the trainees agreed that in a reading
lesson, pronunciation should be taught through repeated drills from the teacher‘s model in much the same way
as fluent reading. Although this was stressed throughout college training, trainees admitted that many of their
tutors did not model this in their own teaching.
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When they are teaching us they say we should use real objects for better meaning but
sometimes when they come and they are teaching those things, they say they are scarce so
they are not in their possession for them to present it to us. So when we go and we get them
we will present them.
This revelation corroborates what we witnessed in tutors‘ lessons where they described the approaches without
practical demonstration of the approaches focusing on interaction of knowledge of reading, pedagogical
procedures and students (trainees). What we did not witness was a structuring of activities and critical analysis of
their potential advantages and disadvantages, given the kinds of classroom spaces and students trainees were
likely to encounter. Decisions about how to organise the classroom, what routines to use and how to adapt the
approaches in view of differences in learning abilities were never contemplated. There was no sense that,
actually learning to read can be a complex activity, especially as a second language, and that understanding
crucial links between first and second language might be an important gateway to developing reading ability in
children for whom English is a foreign language.
Knowledge of how children learn
All trainees pointed out the importance of using concrete or real-world representations in teaching reading. They
refer to Piaget‘s conception of child development, adding that in lower primary, children are at the stage in their
development where their understanding is facilitated by linking concepts to concrete objects. Using concrete
materials was also seen as helping to create practical engagement with learners through activities.
According to Piaget, children are of the concrete stages so you the teacher, you have to
involve the children. It is not solely the teacher telling them that this is what it is, but if you
involve them in activity they‟ll come themselves.
The developmental stages of the pupils, each stage they get to and their thinking ability,
their cognitive ability the children are interested in concrete things so when you are teaching
them you bring concrete things that will attract their attention.
They say children learn when they come into contact with real things. By using the pictures
or the real things, they get the understanding easy than just explaining.
There was awareness that individual differences and motivation influenced how children learn. Differences
among children in terms of their level/class, cognitive ability and socio-economic backgrounds were mentioned.
With regard to levels, play, games, songs and rhymes were recommended as activities useful for children in
primary 1. However, contrary to their tutors‘ views about the role of language learning theories in learning to
teach reading, trainees made no reference to this and how they might apply them in understanding various
strategies of teaching children to read.
3.6
Summary
In learning to teach reading, trainees have been exposed to more subject content, less practical activities and
less critical engagement with the school reading curriculum as well as reflective approaches. The pedagogical
knowledge they have acquired is mainly in two methods for teaching reading (i.e. phonic and ‗look-and-say‘), a
set of procedures and preparation of appropriate TLMs. They did not demonstrate knowledge of any theories
relevant to teaching a second language or reading for that matter, apart from those that relate to children‘s
developmental stages and the need for concrete materials that would engage them in activities. Therefore, their
vision of a reading lesson is fairly simple and quite mechanistic. They lacked a deep sense of what challenges
these approaches presented in real teaching contexts and how they might provide alternative approaches to use
in circumstances where some children struggled with learning to read.
In effect, training did not seem to raise the complex nature of the multilingual Ghanaian classrooms where for
example, some children have knowledge of more than two local languages supported by code switching and
translation in informal settings, the potential anxiety and ‗language shock‘ some students might experience in
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learning/reading a foreign language, and what the implications would be for teaching it (Opoku-Amankwa, 2009).
It is important to see how this seemingly simplistic and narrow view of teaching reading plays out in real
classrooms. The next section examines the reading lessons of Newly Qualified T eachers (NQTs) to see what
their practice tells us about the efficacy of the training in reading.
3.7 Translating knowledge and understanding of reading into practice:
NQTs’ experiences
In this section, we present data based on classroom observations and post-lesson interviews with 34 NQTs in
the Central and Ashanti Regions. The teachers had between seven to twelve months teaching experience. Each
observed lesson took an average of 30 minutes, as well as post-observation interviews. We used the lessons as
a lens to explore the knowledge and understandings the NQTs have about teaching reading. It was our intention
to find out how their understandings and practices had developed, what part college training played in this, and
what had influenced changes or modifications if any.
3.7.1 The knowledge base of NQTs and their understandings about reading lessons
How do NQTs explain what reading is?
The NQTs expressed their understanding of reading in three main ways. For the first group, reading meant the
ability to decode print – meaning the ability to pronounce key words in a passage with emphasis on
pronunciation of words rather than demonstrating comprehension. In lessons which typified this approach and
understanding, the tendency was to spend a lot of time on vocabulary drills and reading aloud after the teacher.
For the second group, reading is the ability to demonstrate comprehension of print, especially through the
explanation of key words or the main ideas in the passage in the local language. Here, much time was devoted
to explaining key words, usually through pictures and in the local language, asking pupils‘ explanation of the key
words and forming sentences with them. In the primary 2 and 3 textbooks where there are short passages to be
read, teachers explained the text, sentence by sentence in the local language and asked the children to do the
same. It is interesting to note that this way of teaching reading was never mentioned in the colleges by teacher
educators and trainees, and seemed to be picked up in teaching when some teachers faced difficulties in getting
through to children with what was required to develop the skill of reading.
Thirdly, reading was described as the ability to answer questions on the passage. Consequently, in such
lessons, more time was devoted to the last stage of the lesson where pupils were made to answer
comprehension questions. In all the lessons observed, pupils were not left on their own to find answers to the
comprehension questions.
Generally, the NQTs expressed their understandings in almost the same way as their tutors and the trai nees did,
with the exception that whiles the tutors and trainees made reference to the important role of phonics in reading,
the NQTs were silent on this. Again, fluency was missing in their understanding of reading , although we
observed that some of the lessons had elements of fluency. Nevertheless, their emphasis on vocabulary and
comprehension was similar to what their tutors expressed.
Teaching different grade levels
The NQTs expressed their opinion about two main issues regarding how to teach readin g to different grade
levels and why. For one group, a reading lesson at primary 1 should be the same as that of primary 2 or 3
because children in these grades operated at the same levels of intellectual development, i.e. the concrete
operational stage:
You go through the same method. Like the preliminary reading stage, the reading stage and
the post reading stage and the stages don‟t change, the activities or all the activities under
the preliminary reading stage the reading stage and the post reading stage wouldn‟t change,
it is the same.
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The views of those who thought pupils in these grades should be taught differently were widely varied. Some
were of the opinion that in primary 1, there should be more use of concrete materials because their conceptual
development is lower than that of primary 3 pupils. According to them, the differences in the teaching approach
of primary 1-3 pupils should relate to the following:



More repeated reading aloud in primary 1, unlike primary 3 where pupils do silent reading
More use of picture description activities in primary 1 whilst in primary 2 and 3 there
should be more of word recognition
Much more concentration on the ‗look-and-say‘ method of teaching reading in primary 1 where they look
at pictures and predict or describe what they see, but not necessarily on word recognition.
Knowledge of the methods, structure and activities for teaching reading
Rather surprisingly, only one of the NQTs (out of 34) could describe clearly methods for teaching reading as
taught in the college. When asked, the methods they mentioned were the question and answer, discussion,
activity method, picture method, role-play, pupil-centred method, etc. These were not given as reading
approaches by teacher educators and trainees who rather referred to (i) the phonics, (ii) the ‗look-and-say‘ and
(iii) a combination of the two methods. Some of the NQTs admitted that though they were taught these methods
at college, they had forgotten about them because they had not been allowed to teach readin g, due to the
National Language Accelerated Programme (NALAP) which had trained only experienced teachers to teach
literacy at the lower primary level.
In expressing their knowledge on this subject in the questionnaire (see the table below), it is intere sting to note
that the NQTs placed more emphasis on an aspect of the look-and-say which involves pupils‘ repetition of words
after the teacher (b), followed by the phonic (or syllabic) method (c), similar to the responses they gave in the
interviews. It must be noted that a variation of the look-and-say approach (also known as the ‗rapid automatic
naming of words‘) rated highly, has the tendency to encourage rote learning and drilling without particular focus
on teaching the shape of whole words or individual sounds, though it is needed to enhance visual and
phonological awareness.
Table 11: The best way to help children in early grades
school to read is to
(a) Look at pictures and read whole words or sentences
(b) Repeat words after the teacher has said them out loud
(c) Teach them to sound out sounds or syllables in the
words.
(d) Guide pupils to recognize words and sentences in songs,
poems or stories
Strongly
Agree
59.09
53.25
58.33
Agree
Disagree
35.06
43.51
37.18
5.19
2.60
4.49
Strongly
disagree
0.65
0.65
0.00
58.44
35.71
5.84
0.00
Generally, all the NQTs demonstrated their knowledge of the procedure for teaching reading by describing three
sequential steps, similar to what their tutors and the trainees pointed out. These were (i) the preliminary, (ii)
reading and (iii) the post-reading stages. They also described similar activities that should be used in each stage,
and explained that they were meant to help pupils to predict what the text was going to talk about, teach and drill
the pronunciation of vocabulary, develop fluency and answer questions based on the text. According to them,
the purpose was to develop and sustain pupils‘ interest and to help them understand the text. They also
indicated that sight-vocabulary acquisition and text comprehension were more important than fluency, as their
earlier understandings of reading also shows. However, it appears the only comprehension strategy they knew
about is question answering, where readers answer questions posed by the teacher and receive immediate
feedback.
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3.7.2 Delivering the reading lesson: NQTs’ practices and explanations
Methods of teaching reading
The NQTs‘ conception of what reading is seemed to determine how they taught their lessons. In the delivery of
their reading lessons, three types of teachers were identified in respect of the methods they used. The first group
(most of the NQTs) used the ‗look-and-say‘ method; the second group (very few, e.g. only one NQT out of 9
observed in one college district) used the phonic method and the third group (also very few) combined the two
methods.
In the ‗look-and-say‘ lessons, the teachers showed the word, sentence or reading passage either on the
chalkboard or cardboard, pronounced or read them out and asked pupils to repeat several times. In effect, the
teacher ‗trains the pupil to look at the graphic representation (form) of print and then say the word‘ (GES, 204:
193) without breaking it into smaller bits. In the lessons of the NQTs with pictures as their TLM, the material
constituted the way of associating meaning with the words or texts. On the other hand, those who did not use
pictures taught meaning using simple explanation, mostly in the local language. A few others used demonstration
and word associations such as synonyms or antonyms.
Among the NQTs who used the ‗look-and-say‘ method, some acknowledged that it was the most commonly used
method:
It is more used than this phonic one; even I have not seen the use of this phonic method here.
When I was in the primary school, the only method the teacher used was look-and-say.
They explained the importance of the ‗look-and-say‘ method mainly in terms of the use of pictures and how that
helps children to identify or predict the meaning of words or a passage. It is interesting to note that these claims
by some NQTs resonate with what some teacher educators indicated as the method teachers are likely to use:
Most people (teachers) may use the look-and-say but even the look-and-say, if you are also
a lazy teacher you may find it very difficult because they need to prepare a lot.
Others pointed out that the ‗look-and-say method‘ was the most suitable for teaching reading at the lower
primary. In actual fact, the GES (2004) textbook on Methods of Teaching English for the UTDBE programme
suggests that pupils should first be introduced to formal reading through ‗the Look-and-Say Method‘ (p. 203)
because among other things, it makes reading easier for pupils with the teacher‘s mode l. The textbook also
acknowledges that with the ‗look-and-say‘ method, pupils cannot read new lessons by themselves and as such,
cannot become independent readers. It therefore recommends that the phonic method be used to complement
and overcome the shortcomings of the ‗look-and-say‘ method. Nevertheless, NQTs stuck to ‗look-and-say, even
when their pupils could not recognise words and read after a number of repeated drills. In one lesson in primary
3 for example, when pupils had difficulty reading, the teacher still continued with the chorus reading/recitation of
the text throughout the period. At the end, only 3 (probably the best) of the 69 pupils in the class who were
invited all the time to read could read. When asked why she thought the children could not read, she located the
problem with the children and not with her strategy:
Not most of them can read. I think you observed it. They cannot read so unless I use the
reading aloud. I read and they read after me. I allow someone to read and they read after
the person. They are very slow learners and if you don‟t take care, you wouldn‟t mind them
again. Look at the way they were reading. If it wasn‟t you here, I will use the cane.
Her reference to the cane as a way to motivate progress in reading is revealing, but it also showed a lack of
knowledge about the complexities of teaching and learning a foreign language, which is a qualitatively more
challenging learning experience than learning to read in one‘s first language (Alidou et al., 2006; Amankwa
2009). It also showed a lack of deep reflection on why her approach was not working and what alternatives
would provide a solution. According to this teacher, the ‗look-and-say‘ method was the most familiar and one
used by long-serving teachers in her school, and although she claimed knowledge of phonics she had never
used it in practice.
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In another example of a teacher when asked how she could have helped children who had difficulties with
reading, she acknowledged that a phonics approach might be the answer.
He could have been helped by me underlining the first letter and letting him pronounce the
sound of the letter so that he would be conversant with the /b/ and the /p/ and then continue
with the rest.
The only teacher who used the phonic method to teach vocabulary to class 2 first taught the sounds of some
selected letters of the alphabet followed by the initial sounds to pronounce words (word-attack strategy). In the
use of a combination of the ‗look-and-say‘ method and phonics was used, it was observed that many pupils used
the phonological awareness to attempt reading the text. Few lessons employed word-attack strategies.
The importance of both the phonological and word identification approach in early reading has been highlighted
in the literature (Bentolila & Germain, 2005; Trudell & Schroeder, 2007)), especially as a remediation strategy for
struggling readers of a second language (Slavin et al., 2009). In his comprehensive review of studies that
investigate how children learn to read in grade 1 (in the US), Stanovich (1986) found that phonemic awareness
(and phonics blending) is the most important predictor of early reading ability, more than vocabulary and oral
comprehension. Indeed, Slavin et al. (2009) reveal that in the UK and US, phonic s instruction constitutes an
important component of the early reading programme, apparently because of the evidence in the literature that
explicit, systematic phonics instruction has been used widely over a long period of time with positive results, and
has proven effective with children of different ages, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds (NRP, 2000).
Also, in multilingual African classrooms, phonics instruction is recommended in the early stages of literacy
acquisition, especially when the regularity of phoneme-grapheme correspondence helps the reader to recognise
or decode new words (Trudell & Schroeder, 2007).
It is rather worrying that although the Ghanaian teacher educators and their trainees know about the role of
phonics and phonemes, in practice, they do not consider it even as a remediation strategy. It seems it is not
given the focused attention it deserves in training leading to difficulties in actually applying the method especially
in distinguishing certain sounds (e.g. /k/ and /c/) and linking them to pronunciation as this teacher explains:
„The pronunciation of the sounds and the letters, that is very difficult. You can see some
letters having different sounds but when you are pronouncing them it will be also
different. So that confuse you the teacher. Even in college it was difficult and yet they did
not have enough lessons on it.
Strategies for teaching reading
Structure of lesson and activities used: Under this heading, the strategies described relate to the procedure for
teaching the reading lesson. These include a discussion on how and why the NQTs engaged pupils in the
reading activities differently. The reading lessons were delivered in the three stages and their corresponding
activities aforementioned namely (i) the preliminary reading stage, (ii) the reading and (iii) the post-reading stage.
NQTs were asked for reasons why they sequenced reading lessons in three stages. Whereas some said that
was what they were taught in college, others simply explained that these are steps that must be followed in every
reading lesson.
In the preliminary reading stage for example, the activities were revision of Relevant Previous Knowledge (RPK),
teaching and drilling of key words, prediction activities through picture description or the title of the text. There
was however no agreement on which activity should be done first or last. Generally, the purpose, they stated,
was to prepare the pupils‘ for reading.
One teacher explained that the nature of the passage and the pupils‘ level norm ally determine how it should be
taught:
The introduction of a reading lesson doesn‟t need one method or one way, it depends on
the passage you are going to teach and the levels of the pupils that determine how you
should introduce it.
39 | P a g e
Two activities were common to all the lessons, namely prediction and vocabulary work through the use of verbal
(e.g. simple explanation in English, local language or both, question and answer and discussion) and/or non verbal (through demonstration, gestures, role-play, etc) strategies. Teachers‘ drilled pupils in pronouncing new
words, and invited them to describe pictures and predict the meaning of a text. More picture description activities
were used in primary 1 and 2 than in primary 3. Also, in the lessons that employe d picture description, the
activities together with the vocabulary work offered the pupils a language base to predict the meaning of a text
they were about to read.
At the reading stage, the activities included the teacher‘s model reading, model reading by a good reader,
reading aloud (chorus/recitation) by the whole class, in rows and individuals irrespective of the class. In a few
instances, there was silent reading by some primary 3 pupils. Here again, the interaction was vertical, from the
teacher to the pupils and vice versa. Some teachers did model reading before allowing the whole class or
individuals to read after them. Pupils were randomly selected to point to where they had reached in the text, to
ensure that they were following the teacher‘s reading. There was a second group of teachers who did not do any
model reading but instead, asked one or two pupils (it seem ed the best readers) to read aloud in turns whilst the
class followed in their books. These teachers explained that once pupils had been taught the meaning and
pronunciation of unfamiliar words in the text, this increased their stock of vocabulary to read, and thus model
reading by the teacher was not necessary.
The purpose of the reading aloud and silent reading exercises was, according to the teachers, to develop
fluency. For reading aloud, teachers explained that it was simple to use (and probably easier), and gave every
child the opportunity to read. It was also thought to be helpful for pupils with specific pronunciation difficu lties to
learn from their colleagues. This explanation seemed oblivious to whether the teacher heard them read correctly
or not.
Another strategy that some teachers used was to allow a few individuals (up to about 4) to read aloud whilst the
rest listened and followed from their texts, after which they read as a whole class. In those instances, only pupils
who were considered good readers were given the opportunity to read to the teacher‘s hearing. Teachers
explained that this practice was to motivate weaker pupils to emulate them. Others felt that the best way to find
out whether each child in the class could read was to give them a chance to read aloud, as this would reveal
pronunciation difficulties for corrective action.
However, the emphasis on rote reading prevents vocabulary recognition producing what Joshi (2005) calls the
‗Matthew‘ effect, whereby students with better vocabulary knowledge read more often and in the process
improve their comprehension while those with poor vocabulary knowledge read less. Teachers, however,
believed that group reading enabled good readers to help the weak and shy ones to read, but few applied this in
their lessons, claiming it was time-consuming. Most lessons adopted the whole-class chorus reading approach.
At the last stage of reading lessons, teachers gave out exercises that required pupils responding to questions
that test their comprehension of reading passages. In some instances, some pupils were called to explain the
text in the local language. Again, similar to teacher educators‘ approach, the NQTs used only two out of the
seven strategies which are known to help pupils make sense of a text (comprehension strategies) - namely
questions and in a few instances, summary/explanation of the text. On the whole, NQTs over-relied on fixed
teaching procedures as their main concern was to get the procedures right and seemed less aware or concerned
about whether it actually helped pupils develop skills in reading. It fits Ehri‘s (2002) description of teachers who
often follow procedures set down in manuals rather than having a wide knowledge of varying processes and
skills that readers need to acquire in both theory and practice.
Using TLMs: Two main types of teaching and learning materials were stated and used in the NQTs‘ lessons:
pictures and word cards. Most of them used the pictures in the pupils‘ textbooks and very few prepared pictures
on cardboards and used sentence cards together with the word cards. However, some of them neither prepared
TLMs nor used the pictures in the pupils‘ textbooks. In the use of TLMs therefore, there were three types namely
(i) those who used prepared pictures and/or word cards, (i) those who used only the textbook and (iii) those who
did not use any TLMs.
40 | P a g e
In this regard, in the first stage of the lesson (i.e. the preliminary reading stage), the first and second types of
NQTs (i.e. those who used prepared pictures or pictures in the textbooks) made the pupils describe the pictures
and use that to predict the meaning and content of the text to be read. The word and sentence cards (by the first
type of NQTs) were also used for word-recognition and matching activities. That is, after teaching the meaning of
the key vocabulary items in the texts and drilling them, the teachers called them out randomly and asked pupils
to identify and show them to the class. The idea was that the pupils would be able to identify words on the
chalkboard, on word cards and subsequently, in the textbook. It must be noted however that in the use of the
word cards, some NQTs did not allow the pupils to interact with them. They simply flashed them whilst they
pronounced the words, and put them aside without going back to them throughout the rest of the lesson.
Teachers without word-cards (the second type of NQTs) only used the chalkboard for all the activities. In this
way, the pupils were introduced to the words on the chalkboard only, and did not have the opportunity to perform
activities that could have helped them to retain the information they obtained.
In the lessons of the type-three teachers, the picture description, prediction, word-recognition and matching
activities were not conducted. The main reason assigned to the absence of the TLMs in some of the lessons was
that it was time-consuming, because the focus of the lesson was the reading which was in the pupils‘ textbooks.
At the reading stage of the lesson, some of the activities of the type-one teachers who had sentence cards
included asking pupils to pick the cards to read aloud to the class after the teacher‘s model. In this group of
NQTs, very few of them had cut-out words or groups of words from the sentence cards. (See example of good
practice below) Those with cut-out words demonstrated to the pupils how to join them to form sentences, after
which the pupils took turns to do the same. It was observed that such activities encouraged pupils‘ active
engagement, and enabled word-recognition. Explaining where she learnt this practice, one teacher whose
example has been shown below said that she pic ked it from a more experienced teacher in her school.
Figure 2
Example of good practice: KWATe1
Teacher KWATe1 taught ‘Matching word-cards with words on a sentence card‘ to 22
primary 1 with the objective that pupils would be able to read sentences aloud and
match words on flash cards with words on sentence cards. After taking the children
through a picture description, she used the ‗look-and-say‘ method to teach vocabulary.
Then she used them in sentences on the board and on sentence cards which she read
for the pupils to repeat and then read aloud individually.
What was peculiar about her lesson was that while the reading aloud was going on,
she identified pupils with pronunciation and word-recognition difficulties and provided a
remedial activity for them in the course of the lesson. She did this by guiding them
through an incidental instruction in phonological awareness. That is, she taught the
initial sound /p/ in pin; the end-sound in ‗pin‘ and ‗pig‘, the sounds /i/ and /n/. She then
blended them to read ‗in‘, pin, etc. After this, she drilled them repeatedly by pointing
randomly at words which were easy and difficult for the pupils and asked the pupils to
read them individually, in groups and as a whole class. At the end of the reading, the
teacher stuck sentence cards on the board and asked pupils to pick word cards to
match them to words in the sentences.
3.7.3
NQTs’ perspectives on teaching reading
Characteristics of a good teacher of reading
The NQTs‘ description of a good reading teacher fell into three broad areas namely as one who had adequate
pedagogical content knowledge, (b) knowledge of subject matter and (c) personality traits for teaching (see table
3.3 in appendix). Pedagogical content knowledge was rated more highly as an important characteristic of a good
teacher of reading than knowledge of English as a subject. Good reading teachers were also considered to be
41 | P a g e
those who used appropriate TLMs and were systematic in their teaching approach by following all the important
steps in teaching reading. Other descriptions related to the teacher‘s ability to vary his/her teaching methods,
transmit knowledge, and assist pupils with difficulties.
With regard to subject matter knowledge, NQTs talked about the teacher‘s knowledge of what he is teaching.
One teacher (who used the phonic method) talked about having more knowledge in sounds whilst another talked
about the teacher‘s fluency. Personal traits related to the teacher‘s confidence, tolerance, patience, etc.
The table below shows their responses to the questionnaire on what makes a good reading teacher.
Table 12: What makes a good teacher of early reading?
(a) Being a good reader themselves in the language.
(b) Telling lots of stories and linking them to text.
(c) Getting children to memorize words and sentences.
(d) Giving a range of strategies to make sense of words.
(e) Reading aloud in the classroom.
Strongly
agree
46.45
50.00
29.03
37.66
52.90
Agree
37.42
41.56
44.52
50.00
38.71
Strongly
disagree
12.26
7.79
20.00
11.69
7.10
Disagree
3.87
0.65
6.45
0.65
1.29
It shows that NQTs make no distinction in their thinking about the best way to help children to read and appear to
think that any of the approaches are equally important. It is important to note that item (d): ‗giving a range of
strategies to make sense of words‘ involves a range of strategies such as phonics, syllable recognition and
building up syllables to form words, whole word recognition, among others. Good reading teachers would
possess this repertoire of strategies to teach recognition and meaning of words/texts. This item was rated third in
order of importance, although it by far conveys a better understanding of teaching reading more effectively.
Instead, item (e) ‗reading aloud in class‘ which targets only fluency was selected by as high as 92% of teachers.
Generally, about a quarter thought getting children to memorise words and sentences is not a good practice. But
equally about 73% thought it was good practice. Generally, the responses did not show strong preference for
one strategy over the others.
It is interesting to note that in their lessons, many of the NQTs did not practise the range of pedagogical
strategies they claim were characteristics of a good teacher of reading. The most common practice was
knowledge transmission (e.g. teaching new words, reading to the hearing of the pupils, explaining the passage to
them, etc,), similar to what college tutors were also observed doing. Very few of them used TLMs effectively,
helped pupils who were clearly having difficulties with reading, or used phonics and a range of other techniques
in their lessons.
Areas of difficulty
Sometimes pupils were unable to read fluently and confidently which teachers interpreted not as a failure of their
methods, but a ‗problem‘ with the child. There were several instances where pupils were unable to identify words
on flash cards after the teacher had drilled and asked them to match word cards with words on the board and
read through all the key words in the passage fluently. Teachers singled out the phonics approach to teaching
as the most challenging and explained that this was because colleges did not give this as much attention, as
they did with other methods.
The pronunciation of the sounds and the letters is very difficult. You can see some letters
having different sounds but when you are pronouncing them it will be also different. So
that confuses you the teacher. Even in college it was difficult and yet they did not have
enough lessons on it.
Other areas of difficulty as indicated in the questionnaire are presented and discussed below.
42 | P a g e
Table 13: Areas NQTs find difficult to teach
Which of the following reading skills do you find difficult or
easy to teach in the first three years of primary school
Very
Very
Difficult/Difficult Easy/Easy
(a) Finding meaning from a word‘s place in the sentence
30.32
63.22
Not
suitable
for grade
6.45
(b) Joining sounds together to make syllables
17.65
80.39
1.96
(c) Linking stories, actions and pictures with writing.
3.84
95.52
0.64
(d) Punctuation and capital letters
30.77
61.54
7.69
(e) Reading aloud at sufficient speed to make sense of the writing.
23.07
74.36
2.56
(f) Recognizing different parts of a word
24.36
69.87
5.77
(g) Teaching letter sounds
21.94
77.42
0.65
(h) The way a story is put together
29.87
65.60
4.55
(i) Understanding the overall meaning of a story, poem or other
piece of writing.
20.52
77.57
1.92
Again, here, the NQTs seem to suggest that they find the kind of reading skills indicated above generally easy to
teach, although they find (a), (d) and (h) slightly more difficult to teach relative to the others. These are skills that
tend to be rated more highly than the others as ―not suitable for lower primary grades‖, and were used mostly in
the lessons observed. About a third (30%) found recognising different parts of a word a difficult skill to teach
(this includes those who said it is not suitable for the grade).
The complexities involved in getting children to read an unfamiliar language are well articulated in the literature
(Alidou et al., 2006; Trudell & Schroeder, 2007; Opoku-Amankwa, 2009). However, in their learning to teach
reading in English, trainees are not exposed to these. Both the teacher educators and trainees admitted that the
teacher training programme in reading was deficient in knowledge about language learning theories, phonics
instruction and exposure to practical activities and real classroom contexts while in college. Although the trainees
perceived that having knowledge of reading methods, knowledge of a set of teaching procedures and TLMs, was
what they needed to possess to teach reading effectively, it appears that in real classrooms none of these were
applied to great effect.
3.8
Testing NQTs specific knowledge and understanding of teaching
reading
In this part, we found out about the NQTs‘ knowledge and understanding in specific areas related to teaching
reading at the lower primary. The findings are presented and discussed below.
Table 14: NQTs’ choice of approach for teaching early reading
You are planning how to teach your class early reading. Which one
approach would you use?
(a) Write whole familiar words on the board next to pictures and ask children
to repeat many times after you
(b) Read short stories and ask the children to read short sentences back to
you
(c) Show examples of the different sounds that letters make at the beginning,
middle and end of words
(d) Combine letters to make syllables that can make up simple words
Total
Freq.
%
86
56.95
15
9.93
21
13.91
29
151
19.21
100.00
Table 14 above shows that there is a preference for (a) – writing whole familiar words on the board which reflects
mostly what many NQTs did in their teaching of reading where words were written on the board and children
43 | P a g e
repeated them quite mindlessly. Story reading is not one that NQTs appear to favour (only 15%). They do
however, see (d) which is mainly the ‗syllabic ‘ a useful approach after (a). However the gap between responses to
(a) and (b) confirm what we observed in most lessons on reading which used mainly the ‗look-and-say‘ approach.
Table 15 NQTs’ approach for increasing learners’ reading
vocabulary
Percent
You want to increase learners' reading vocabulary. You choose to
focus on parts of the body. Put these activities into an order which
best develops their reading in a lesson or series of lessons.
(a) Draw a diagram of a person, label the parts of the body and
ask the children to write their own sentences.
(b) Give groups of 6 children cards with words such as ‘arm’ or
‘ear’, ask them to draw the parts of the body and to put them into
sentences
(c) Point to the parts of the body on a real child and write the
words on the board in a sentence such as 'I have two hands'
(d) Write a list of words on the board next to a picture you draw
of them and ask the child to read the words aloud together and
individually
First
Second
Third
Fourth
27.10
27.74
18.71
26.45
8.44
25.97
39.61
25.97
44.87
26.28
21.79
7.05
21.79
19.23
21.79
37.18
Figure 3: Activities to increase learner’s vocabulary
Order of activities to increase learner's vocabulary
0
1
2
3
Labeling a diagram and ask to write sentences
Ask groups to make sentences with word cards
Point parts of a child's body and write sentences on the board
Write words next to a pictures and ask children to read them
Again, we see from the responses in figure 3, that in terms of ordering activities to increase learner‘s vocabulary,
most NQTs would start with (c) followed by (a), (d) and finally (b). One possible (and probably the most
appropriate) sequence is (c), (d), (b) and (a). The understanding is that, teachers would move from the idea of
the concrete to the more abstract, using groups in the middle of the lesson to practise the newly acquired skills
and start with words before moving on to sentenc es. The first activity, as the teachers indicated, starts with the
real (concrete) object which reflects what trainees explained as a starting point corresponding to the early
developmental stage of the pupils. In their lessons however, most NQTs failed to use real objects, diagrams and
pictures, which suggests that although they may possess the appropriate sequencing of teaching activities to
increase learners‘ reading vocabulary, they do not necessarily put this into practice.
The three tables that follow present NQTs‘ knowledge and understanding about strategies for teaching letter and
word recognition and understanding of text. In the first table (table 16) , the question focuses on environmental
print and the use of pictures as visual representations or real objects, or the use of longer, whole texts. Clearly,
the figures show that there is a preference for showing labelled pictures, followed by labelling objects, which
44 | P a g e
shows the importance attached to using pictures in the classroom to help pupils associate letter names with the
items they stand for.
Table 16: NQTs’ approach to teaching recognition of letters
You want to encourage your learners to recognise letters in written
words. Which one is the best way of doing this?
(a) Show pictures of familiar objects with a label underneath
(b) Have the children's names clearly written out
(c) Pin up advertisements or newspaper articles
(d) Label familiar objects such as a chair or board
Total
Frequency
Percentage
106
20
0
29
155
68.39
12.90
0.00
18.71
100.00
In the next table (table 17) response (d), ‗drilling students in appropriate sounds‘, which was appropriately rated
highest, shows teachers‘ understanding that the students‘ difficulties lie in recognising the difference in the two
‗end‘ sounds. On the other hand, ‗showing pictures of ‗cats‘ and ‗cars‘ and then explaining the difference‘, which
was rated second, is indicative of a lack of awareness that the problem in reading the words may be
phonological discrimination or letter-sound correspondence. Thus, quite a sizable proportion of teachers endorse
an action which would not necessarily resolve the problem.
Table 17 NQTs’ approach for helping children to distinguish sounds
One child is having difficulty in reading simple words such as 'cat'
or 'car'. Which one of these alternatives might best help the child?
(a) Ask the child to see you after school and you write down the words for
them to practice reading aloud
(b) show pictures of 'cats' and 'cars' and explain the difference
(c) Drill the students in the appropriate end sounds
d) For one week at the beginning of each lesson you go over the letter
sounds again for the whole class to revise
Frequency
Percentage
3
1.92
69
74
10
44.23
47.44
6.41
Finally, ‗drawing pictures in a story sequence to show what is happening‘ (table 18) is the highest selected
among other choices. This is a good strategy as it makes use of a narrative plot to develop understanding in
reading. Asking the whole class to recite the story and ask one or two to tell what happens in the story is likely to
encourage whole class reading aloud but the whole class ‗recitation‘ assumes that all the children can read
fluently and with understanding. It is likely to encourage rote learning. Nearly half of the teachers selected this
among their choices.
Table 18 NQTs’ strategies for teaching reading of short stories
You plan to teach children to read with understanding stories of
five to six lines from the board. Which two strategies seem best?
(a) Explain to the class what is happening as you teach
Percentage of respondents who
selected the item amongst their
choices
40.65
(b) Ask the whole class to recite the story and ask one or two to tell you
what happens in the story
(c) Draw pictures in a story sequence to show what is happening
47.74
(d) The children read the story to themselves and then ask each other
questions and give answers on the story
(e) The children read the story to themselves and answer questions
written on the board
16.13
82.58
12.90
45 | P a g e
The last question (table 19) attempts to find out how often teachers teach particular areas of reading lessons and
which of them would be considered inappropriate for grades 1 to 3. The first item (show students how to identify
the meaning of a word from its root) refers to the use of the syllabic method of teaching. Surprisingly, about 31%
of the teachers think that it is not suitable for lower primary, which presupposes that they rarely use it in their
classes. In fact, none of the lessons we observed used this strategy, although it is useful in helping to pronounce
words correctly. The third item (prediction) rated highly is mostly used to help children begin to make sense of a
text. Rather surprisingly, explaining the use of punctuation marks is quite a frequent activity, although about 15%
indicated that it is not a suitable subject for lower grade reading class.
Table 19 NQTs’ perception of activities for different grade levels
Most days
Show how frequently you do these things by
ticking the box. If you do not think it is
appropriate for the grade you teach, say
which grade it should be used in.
(a) Show students how to identify the meaning
of a word from its root
(b) Help students to find the meaning of a new
word from its place in a sentence
(c) Ask students to predict what a story will be
about from its title and first line
(d) Explain the use of punctuation marks
(e) Teach the structure of a non-fiction text contents page, glossary etc
(f) Let students choose a book or story to read
themselves
(g) Ask students what they like about a text
Percentage
Sometimes
Never
%
%
%
Suitable for
another
grade
%
32.03
31.37
6.54
30.07
42.21
36.36
4.55
16.88
54. 90
35.95
2.61
6.53
45.64
9.21
36.91
30.92
2.01
30.92
15.44
28.95
28.57
44.81
12.99
13.64
34.42
48.05
14.29
3.25
From all the responses, we could say that teachers rightly attach much importance to the use of pictures to help
word/letter identification, generally possess knowledge and understanding of the right strategy to use to ad dress
pupils‘ unique problems related to sound-identification, and have knowledge of how to help children make
meaning from texts. However, much of this knowledge is not seen in practice, and in particular asking their pupils
what they liked about a text (g) (comprehension) was not observed in use at all. Again, this shows that although
teachers may have knowledge and understanding of how to teach various aspects of a reading lesson, they only
practise a narrow selection.
3.9 The NALAP teachers: insights into their knowledge and practice
The NALAP was born out of a national concern about the English reading disability of public basic school pupils.
Its main objective is to develop pupils‘ literacy in the local language so that the conceptual understandi ng they
gain from that would be transferred into reading in English. Fifteen NALAP teachers were selected for lesson
observation and post-observation interviews. All of them had completed their initial teacher training and
embarked on or had completed degree programmes. Most of them had teaching experience of between 5 and 13
years, and had 2 to 8 years experience teaching at different grades of the lower primary, and used the NALAP
approach for only one term (about 3 months).
46 | P a g e
3.9.1 The knowledge base of NALAP teachers and their understandings about reading lessons
What is reading?
For those who teach at primary 1 for example, they explained reading to mean developing the ability to identify
letters and sounds of the alphabet and associating them with pictures of objects. Primary 2 and 3 teachers
described reading as the ability to decode and demonstrate understanding of print. Some emphasised the ability
to pronounce words rather than demonstrating understanding whilst others said, both skills were requ ired in
reading.
Who is a good reading teacher?
The NALAP teachers described a good reading teacher in terms of pedagogical content knowledge and subject
matter knowledge. None mentioned personal traits as the NQTs did, implying that to them, knowing one‘s subject
and how to teach it was more important. The pedagogical content knowledge they expect good reading teachers
to possess are varied, ranging from methods for teaching reading, use of appropriate procedures, activities, etc.
to general principles of teaching. Four teachers judged a good teacher by his or her ability to promote children‘s
reading ability (recognising and pronouncing words in isolation or in context, using them to form sentences, etc.)
and demonstrating understanding. For others, good reading teachers are those who are capable of using TLMs,
demonstrations, illustrations and/or examples in their lessons, to help children to develop mental pictures about
the text and understand it. Other descriptions included: knowing how to use the ‗l ook-and-say‘ and phonic
methods, and following laid down steps for teaching reading. Concerning the general principles of teaching, they
mentioned one‘s ability to create an environment that would make the children participate in the lesson, such as
making them feel that their views are important. Lastly, with regard to subject matter knowledge, some teachers
thought that the teacher‘s ability to pronounce words accurately and read fluently (paying attention to intonation,
punctuation, etc.) were important characteristics of a good teacher of reading.
3.9.2 NALAP teachers’ practices and understandings
Delivering the Lesson: Method, structure and activities used
Fifteen lessons were observed with the aid of the observation instrument (see chapter 1 section 1.6.1). Two (2)
of the teachers indicated that the methods they used derived from their college training; two (2) said they were
from the NALAP training and the others said they combined information from the two training programmes, and
sometimes drew on their own experiences.
Methods: In the NALAP approach, the lessons that involve the teaching of reading are termed Language and
Literacy. These are 90-minute lessons in which the first part (60, 50 and 45 minutes for primary 1 to 3
respectively) is devoted to literacy in Ghanaian Language and the second part (30, 40 and 45 minutes) is for
literacy in English. Formal reading only begins from primary 2 whilst pupils in primary 1 have about 60 and 30
minutes of oral activities in Ghanaian language and English respectively. The NALAP teachers still used
practices similar to that used by the NQTs - ‗look-and-say‘ teaching approach, chorus reading and repeated drills
and less word-attack strategies to correct pupils‘ wrong pronunciation. Five of the teachers combined phonics
with ‗look-and-say‘ at different stages of the lesson, and for different purposes. Only one teacher used a wordattack strategy to correct some pupils‘ wrong pronunciation. Others taught the identification of two different letter
sounds although it had no bearing on the reading lesson. By their approach, we had the sense that the phonics
instructional approach in use is the embedded type (NRP, 2000) which is taught implicitly during a reading
lesson, and expected to see them help pupils identify words which contained similar sounds or pronounce
difficult words. Instead, most lessons focused on the teaching of letter-sound relations.
Lesson structure and activities:
The lessons were conducted in four or more stages according to the number of activities which were called
‗steps‘ which had been outlined in the teachers‘ guide.
Stage 1:
Generally, lessons began with an introduction in which teachers engaged pupils in various oral activities such as
singing, describing a picture related to the text to be read and discussing the title of the text. The teachers
explained that at this stage, the oral activities were intended to develop pupils‘ interest in the lesson, arouse their
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interest in reading the text meaningfully and encourage their active participation in the lesson. Pupils engaged
more actively in the Ghanaian Language literacy lessons than in the English lessons apparently because they
could communicate better in the local language than in English.
Stage 2:
The second step involved teaching the key words through real objects, pictures, demonstrations or simple
explanations and drilling them on their correct pronunciation. The purpose, according to the teachers, was for the
pupils to be able to pronounce key words and relate their meaning to the overall meaning of the text.
Stage 3:
Then there was the teacher‘s model reading which was meant to provide the best example of accurate
pronunciation and fluent reading of the text for pupils to emulate during reading aloud (which was done in
repeated chorus drills after the teacher) or silent reading. Teachers explained that chorus reading was intended
to promote fluency in reading, and help pupils overcome shyness which they argued prevented pupils‘ from
active participation. Only two lessons used group and pair reading to encourage cooperative learning, which the
NALAP recommends. Teachers explained that the peculiar seating arrangement (in a horse-shoe fashion with a
group of children facing each other) was to encourage group discussion and c ooperative learning, but not much
of this was done in the lessons.
Some teachers sketched drawings and pointed at them as they read to aid understanding. Secondly, where
textbooks were available, pupils were made to use broom sticks or their fingers as pointers as they read to help
develop word recognition. Here again, similar to the NQTs‘ lessons, few (good) readers were made to read
aloud, thus, reinforcing the ‗matthew‘ effect (Joshi, 2005).
Stage 4:
Lastly, teachers used oral/written exercises at the end of the lesson to consolidate the oral work and to give
pupils‘ the opportunity to use the newly learnt vocabulary items in given situations or to fill in a frame provided by
the teacher (e.g. ‗My ... is a ... ‗to become ‗My mother/father is a trader/teacher‘, etc.). Pupils were also asked to
provide oral answers to comprehension questions or summarise a text. Apart from the fact that there were more
oral exercises in the NALAP lessons, their use of two comprehension strategies (questions and summaries) was
similar to that of the NQTs.
3.9.3 Challenges of the NALAP approach
Since this study was conducted in the third month (July 2010) of its inception (in May 2010), we asked the
NALAP teachers about their experiences with the use of the approach. They described two main challenges.
Firstly, the emphasis on the Ghanaian language which the pupils were most familiar with, made it easy for them
to memorise and recite the text rather than read it. Secondly, when it came to oral activities, some pupils we re
unable to contribute much to the prediction activities involving a discussion of the title for the reading passage,
which then compelled the teachers to do most of the talking. In effect, teachers still faced the problem of
connecting with pupils in ways that made them comfortable engaging actively in reading lessons.
There was a general consensus that lack of textbooks and poster cards for English literacy made its teaching
difficult, which meant writing the reading passage on the board each time they had a lesson. Most of them (7 out
of 12) indicated that they had practical problems with the local language which impeded effective use of the
NALAP approach. Some of them could neither read nor write the local language they were expected to use in
teaching reading. In two lessons observed, the teacher repeatedly pronounced and spelt some words wrongly
even when the pupils insisted on the right pronunciation.
Two teachers also felt that the 90-minute duration was too long and tedious for both the teacher and the pupils
whilst another two felt that gathering TLMs to teach the 90-minute lessons was laborious. There were other
problems related to inability to do blackboard sketches which the approach recommends and the seating
arrangement (horse-shoe fashion) which made it difficult for some of the pupils to see the board and also
encouraged inattentiveness in class. One teacher‘s view seems to summarise the implication of all these
challenges: ‗The only thing I will say is that it (the NALAP approach) is not interesting now‘. It comes as no
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surprising therefore, that only two teachers out of 15 said they solely used the NALAP approach whilst the rest
said they went back to what they had learnt in college or used their practical experience to guide their cla ssroom
actions.
In many ways, the NALAP teachers went about their reading lessons and expressed their understandings about
them in much the same way as the NQTs did. That notwithstanding, there were notable differences in four main
areas that might be attributed to the unique approach of the NALAP methodology, namely:
1.
2.
3.
4.
Bilingual bi-literacy teaching, with emphasis on Ghanaian language
Emphasis on oral activities and little time allotted to English reading
Conscious effort to develop identification and use of vocabulary
Combination of the ‗look-and-say‘ and the phonic methods in one lesson.
These differences, we assume, have come about because of the recognition of their importance to foreign
language learning in a multilingual classroom like Ghana, and their obvious absence in the Ghanaian
classrooms. In the next section, we focus more narrowly on these gaps in trying to draw understanding the
nature of the differences that exist between NALAP and the approaches taught in TTCs and used by NQTs.
3.10 Exploring gaps: From training to gaining experience
NALAP: Bilingual bi-literacy teaching, with emphasis on Ghanaian language
Mother tongue literacy in multiethnic multilingual contexts has become a matter of concern to African educational
policy makers, researchers and scholars in recent times (Asmara Declaration, 2000). Writers and scholars have
expressed worry about the situation of mother tongue illiteracy which is prevalent in many African contexts. They
argue that when schools overemphasize the use of English to the neglect of their mother tongue, they deny
themselves their own culture, because mother tongues are rich cultural reservoirs (Commeyras & Inyega, 2007).
Researchers also argue that when mother tongue is de emphasised, it amounts to ignoring the cultural roots of
students, thus, resulting in what Schroeder (2001) calls cognitive hijacking, which contributes to cultural
hijacking. Therefore, at the conclusion of the conference of writers and scholars from all regions of Africa called
"Against All Odds: African Languages and Literatures Into the 21st Century", a declaration was issued,
proclaiming that all African children have the unalienable right to attend school and learn their mother tongues,
and that every effort should be made to develop African languages at all levels of education. This, in addition to
concern about the reading disability of many Ghanaian public school children, forms the basis for the National
Literacy Accelerated Programme, NALAP.
The NALAP approach, was developed on the research finding that pupils learn to read and write better and
faster in a language they know well, so that they can transfer the literacy skills acquired in that language to learn
to read a second language (Commeyras & Inyega, 2007; Trudell & Schroeder, 2007). What therefore, are the
distinctive features that the observation data point to?



NALAP focuses on helping pupils to learn to read in a Ghanaian language while they learn to speak
English. Although Ghanaian language is studied as a subject at the basic level, and is the medium of
instruction from primary 1 to 3, it ceases to be a core subject at the secondary school. At the teacher
training institutions however, it becomes a core subject again, but only in the first year of the two -year
residential course work.
Despite the fact that teachers are trained to be generalist teachers, in the second year of the training
programme where they have to select an elective subject for pedagogical studies, very few trainees opt
for Ghanaian language. For example, in one of the colleges that participated in this study, 70 out of 300
trainees chose to study methodology in Ghanaian language. Again, out of the 640 trainees from 4
colleges who responded to the questionnaire, only 134 (21%) expressed confidence to teach reading in
Ghanaian language with the rest preferring to teach reading in English.
It is interesting to note that Ghanaian primary school teachers are expected to teach all subjects on the
timetable and yet, as they do not study the pedagogy for teaching Ghanaian language, there is the
likelihood that such teachers skip the lessons or teach it without the necessary pedagogical strategies.
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Indeed, some Ghanaian teacher educators with whom we had informal discussion on this issue pointed
out that some basic school teachers were observed teaching Ghanaian language as storytelling.
Emphasis on oral activities and little time allotted to English reading in NALAP
The literature on language learning consistently advocates the teaching of the four skills of l istening, speaking,
reading and writing (Commeyras & Inyega, 2007). In the TT programme, trainees learn to teach listening and
speaking skills through story, verse and conversation lessons and reading/writing skills through
reading/comprehension and composition lessons. Moreover, the aspects of English (i.e. Oral work, Grammar,
Composition and Reading) are allotted separate but equal times of 60 minutes each on the timetable, and
trainees are taught to teach these as such. Basically, the objectives of reading lessons are to help pupils to
identify key words, read and answer questions based on the text. By the third term of primary 1, pupils are taught
to read about four to five sentences. Although there is some oral activity in the first stage of the reading lesson, it
is meant to help children to predict what the text would be about but not to develop oral skills. These are what the
teacher educators and their trainees described in this study, which we also observed in the NQTs‘ lessons.
On the contrary, the NALAP approach incorporates all the four language skills for both English and Ghanaian
language in one lesson, which is called ‗literacy‘. It also considers that in primary 1, learners have to develop
their language base orally and begin reading small amounts of text (three to four short sentences) in primary 2
which gradually increases in primary 3. This is based on the assumption that oral activities are used to develop
new vocabulary and concepts which can be transferred to the study of other skills for life. Obviously, the two
approaches to language learning are based on different objectives, which explain why in the NALAP approach,
more time is devoted to oral activities than to reading.
Combination of the ‘look-and-say’ and the phonic methods in NALAP lessons
For the NALAP teachers, the only reference material they used to prepare their lessons was the teachers‘ guide
since according to them that was the only material they had been supplied since the inception of the programme.
The general consensus was that the teachers‘ guide had prescribed procedure or steps for teaching the lessons,
which they followed rigidly. This has more or less, ‗forced‘ NALAP teachers to combine the ‗look-and-say‘ and
phonic method to reflect the expected literacy standards and milestones for reading (see appendix B).
As we saw in chapter 2, the TT methodology course outline treats two methods for teaching beginning reading,
which are the ‗look-and-say‘ and the phonic methods, as well as the eclectic approach consisting of a
combination of the two methods. Trainees‘ interview data however suggests that they had learnt to use any one
of these to teach reading, irrespective of the teaching and learning conditions or circumstances. Consequently, in
most of the NQTs‘ lessons, the ‗look-and-say‘ was preferred, and even when it was not producing the desired
effect in terms of promoting reading with understanding, teachers simply repeated the process. This is despite
the fact that the school syllabus recommends equal use of both methods in the reading lessons. From trainees‘
interview data, it was quite clear that they had limited, if any, practical exposure to school curriculum materials,
especially how to use them in preparation for teaching reading. Besides, the opportunity to work through the
materials as part of learning to teach reading was nonexistent. It is therefore, not surprising that NQTs were not
turning to the school curriculum materials for ideas and strategies for teaching reading. The absence of phonics
instruction in their lessons reflects the limited attention given to it in the colleges, especially practical exposure to
how the approach might be used in teaching reading lessons prescribed in school textbooks.
Conscious effort to develop word recognition and use of vocabulary
There are some five overlapping foundational elements that are important for reading (NRP 2000; Centre for
Education 2010). These are alphabetic which includes phonemic awareness and phonics, fluency, wide
vocabulary and comprehension, and are based on the various definitions of reading that include several
behaviours such as reading real words in isolation or in context, reading text aloud or silently, and
comprehending text that is read silently or orally. The NALAP approach has spec ifically been designed on the
basis of these listed elements, each of which is expected to be achieved within a certain time-frame or level of
literacy learning, called milestones.
In all, seven (7) critical components – print concepts, phonological awareness, decoding and word analysis,
vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and text selection are to be developed in grades 1-6. In grades 2 and 3
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where reading begins, 5 of these components, that is phonological awareness, decoding and word analysis,
vocabulary, fluency and comprehension (see appendix B) are to be developed in beginning readers. It is
important to note that each of these components has a list of competences to be developed in the learners, and
the teachers‘ guide prescribes guidelines for achieving these. As knowledge of oral and print vocabulary is
known to aid reading and comprehension, the NALAP approach focuses on developing these, through the word
bank (vocabulary items) which is left on the chalkboard for pupils to read through every day for a week, using the
vocabulary items in meaningful contexts and using pointers to identify them as the reading progresses.
In the TT and school reading programme on the other hand, there are no laid down standards and milestones for
the various grade levels. Even though these are implied in the objectives set out in the school syllabus, they may
not be easily discerned by NQTs. Therefore, they are likely to teach reading without targeting any particular
competences the learner should be able to exhibit at the end of a grade level. Nevertheless, as we observed in
their lessons, the TT reading programme exposes trainees to certain activities for teaching vocabulary such as
matching words with pictures, or words on the chalkboard with cut-out word cards. But beyond this and for
progression in reading, there was little or no evidence of the use of specific strategies for developing word
recognition, as was observed in the NALAP lessons, except in one minority case (see figure 2 for example of
good practice). Neither did we observe any effort to revisit previously learnt vocabulary. From the TT
methodology programme and from the trainees‘ stories, very little time is devoted to the teaching of reading
methods in the TT programme, and the residential course work is more theoretical than practical which must
account for NQTs‘ superficial knowledge about the importance of vocabulary acquisition in reading, and the
specific strategies for developing word recognition consciously.
3.11 Summary
We have looked at how NQTs and NALAP teachers have learnt to teach reading and seen that although they
share similar understandings and practices, their practices follow different models of how to teach reading. In
NALAP, reading is taught within a composite bilingual bi-literacy (English and Ghanaian language) in a single
lesson, seeking to develop explicit, laid down competences modeled after the pattern of what has been found in
the international literature (NRP, 2000; Center for Education, 2010) whereas in the other, En glish reading is
taught to develop implied competences. The peculiar way of teaching the NALAP as observed (e.g. the
emphasis on oral work as the basis for developing vocabulary, the conscious effort to build and identify
vocabulary, the combination of the look-and-say with phonics in one lesson, etc.) seems to suggest that it will be
a faster way of teaching reading. However, being a snapshot of one lesson, coupled with the noted challenges
associated with the approach (e.g. teachers‘ inability to read and write the local language, not relating phonics
with the reading, etc.) it may require ongoing support to achieve its full benefits.
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Chapter 4
Learning to Teach Primary Mathematics
Background
The international research on mathematics teacher preparation for lower/elementary teaching suggests that,
teachers‘ knowledge of mathematics, how it should be represented in teaching, and their knowledge of
pedagogical procedures, influences how their students learn mathematics (Fennema & Franke 1998). Besides
that, the extent to which teacher trainees get exposure to and develop understanding of curricular materials,
including textbooks shapes their level of effectiveness in teaching school mathematics (Ma 1999). Teacher
trainees come into training with whatever knowledge and understanding of mathematics acquired through
schooling, and that ―when a teacher has conceptual understanding of mathematics, it influences classroom
instruction in a positive way‖ (Fennema & Franke, 1998 p 151). Thus, teachers‘ knowledge of mathematics and
the training they receive in teaching the subject must influence how they perceive and rationalise their
competence in teaching. This chapter seeks to uncover the process of learning to become a primary
mathematics teacher – from college to early years in school, especially what trainees and NQTs understand to
be the value of the training and the gaps in their knowledge, understanding and practice of teaching mathematics
in lower primary. It also examines some of the underlying knowledge base in primary mathematics of trainees
and teachers in the early years of teaching. Beginning to understand more about these shifts is a necessary
precursor to improving primary teachers‘ effectiveness in teaching mathematics for understanding.
4.1 The identity, knowledge and practice of mathematics teacher
educators
4.1.1 Teacher educators views about the TTC curriculum
Eight teacher educators (one female and seven male) selected from four colleges of education (TTCs) in the
Central and Ashanti regions of Ghana participated in this aspect of the study. With the exception of one tutor
with a Masters degree in Mathematics, all the others had a B.Ed degree specialising in mathematics. Although
they all expressed confidence in their ability to teach in a TTC, they also felt their preparation to teach methods
of teaching primary mathematics had been inadequate, and that most of what they knew and understood about
how to teach primary mathematics had been acquired on the job with occasional mentorship from colleagues.
… The methods itself was learnt when I came to the training college and I sat in the classes of
some of the tutors to get much information on how to teach it. Sometimes, I ask the tutor to give me
some of the work of the students to mark. And as I marked, I got the ideas of what the students
were writing. And so, sometimes I marked them down and the teacher will tell me, “No this is
correct, this is another method” … I also got used to these methods. But actually, at the university
we were not doing much about the methods.
There was also a feeling that university training had not prepared them adequately for the task of teaching in a
TTC because much of that training was not matched specifically to what they were required to teach in the TTC.
... at times the topics [curriculum content] you‟ll go through at that level [pre-service training at the
University] will be different from what you encounter when you come to teach in the college. The
best you get are some general strategies as to how to go about it.
Generally the tutors felt training teachers to teach primary mathematics poses several challenges because of
resource constraints in the colleges and the lack of in-service support to enhance their competence. They all
expressed satisfaction with the structure and content of the TTC mathematics curriculum, saying it had the
necessary content for training teachers to teach mathematics in lower primary given its inclusion of methods for
teaching school mathematics directly related to the content of primary mathematics.
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They [TTC curriculum and primary school curriculum] are almost the same. We take their [primary school]
syllabus and we learn it here [in College of Education]. So there is a relation [between TTC curriculum and
primary school curriculum]. What they [trainees] are going to do there [at the primary school level] is what we
implement here. We use the primary syllabus; we use the JHS syllabus; we use all their textbooks here, we have
them in our library, so there is a relationship. (FosuTu1)
In principle this linkage exists but there was very little evidence that trainees studied directl y primary school
curriculum materials. From both tutor and trainees descriptions of training, it was evident that in practice,
learning to teach primary mathematics focused exclusively on the acquisition of a prescribed set of pedagogical
knowledge with little room for studying the structure, content and concepts underlying the school mathematics
curriculum as presented in primary curriculum materials.
4.1.2 Teacher Educators’ knowledge and understandings of learning to teach
Tutors were asked to describe basic concepts and topics pupils should acquire to lay the foundations in learning
basic mathematics. Three topics stood out from their answers: knowledge of numbers, shapes, and fractions
(including comparing fractions). In addition they suggested it is important for pupils to possess manipulative,
writing and reading skills to effectively learn primary mathematics. Furthermore it was explained that teaching for
conceptual understanding required working with instructional materials that conveyed basic mathematical
concepts, and that children‘s ability to read is important for problem solving in mathematics.
The tutors were, however, not too familiar with the kinds of misconceptions and challenges that pupils
experience in learning primary mathematics, and did not attach as much value to this as to learning about the
methods of teaching. From tutor interviews, the issue about children‘s thinking and its implications for
instructional decisions of teachers was never raised by the tutors.
Next, we explored the teacher educator‘s knowledge of what trainee teachers should know well to be successful
primary mathematics teachers. Responses ranged from knowledge of primary school syllabus, knowledge of
mathematics subject-content knowledge, knowledge and use of appropriate teaching techniques, and insights
into the psychology of learning. Tutors spoke very much in general terms and did not, for example, talk about
specific competencies and skills that would be necessary. For example, one tutor explained that ―they [teachers]
should be able to encourage children to see the essence of mathematics‖. Another, that ―the psychology of
learning mathematics, the level of pupils … [and the] various ways of forming concepts…‖ are important. Another
stressed the importance of student-centeredness in the teaching approach: ―[all activities] should be done by the
pupils so that they will pick up the concept instead of you the teacher telling it to them‖, whilst another opined: ―…
using more TLMs, taking them through several models, and also involving them [students] in the teaching and
learning‖.
Some tutors espoused a constructive approach to teaching and learning mathematics as a way of developing
effective capacity to teach primary mathematics, although their own lessons did not exemplify the approach as
they described. A constructivist approach would mean tutors setting up classroom environmental conditions and
instructional materials that would focus attention trainee attention on exploring mathematics concepts using the
materials. Where tutors demonstrated the use of TLMs, it was without critical inquiry into how pupils in
Ghanaian classrooms might respond to their use to develop conceptual understanding especially in large
classroom settings.
Tutors felt that the beliefs and conceptions teacher trainees bring with them to college shapes their attitudes and
approaches to learning to teach mathematics. In their view most trainees see mathematics as a difficult subject
but viewed primary mathematics as quite simple and not requiring much in terms of intellectual engagement. As
one tutor put it, “well, some of them think mathematics is only about addition and subtraction, multiplication and
division”. In their view, the challenge is to help trainees develop a better understanding of the conceptual
structures of basic mathematics through activities which would help them develop a firm grasp of its underlying
concepts. But although tutors espoused these ideas, not much of this was evident in their teac hing. For
example, none set up instructional activities that focused on teacher trainees working with TLMs in ways that
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could enrich how they might structure primary mathematics learning activities to promote deep conceptual
learning. The (over)emphasis on acquisition of prescribed methods without investigating the interconnections
with the structure of basic concepts, means that learning to teach primary mathematics was not sufficiently
problematised.
4.2 The Teacher Educator’s teaching practices
Although the tutors indicated that in preparing to teach it was important to consult three main sources: teaching
syllabus for primary school, primary school textbooks and the mathematics for teacher training in Ghana
textbook, there was very little reference and use of the first two. We concluded that, although they knew these
were important curriculum materials to use in structuring their lessons, the way in which they might actually go
about referencing and using these materials was not known.
4.2.1 The structure of lessons
In observing teacher educators‘ methods classes, we were interested in understanding what they set out as
learning objectives, how they sequenced their lessons and for what purpose, their organisation of learning, and
how they used instructional materials to develop and convey basic mathematics concepts or ideas. All the
lessons followed a three-step process of delivery: a short introduction, the main lesson, and an evaluation
exercise or assignment at the end. On lesson objectives there was an emphasis on observable (cognitive)
learning outcomes expected from pupils at the end of the lessons. These two examples reflect the way in which
tutors stated lesson objectives in methods classes:
 By the end of the lesson the students should be able to add ‗unlike‘ fractions.
 By the end of the lesson pupil will be able to: (i) match the numeral cards (1-5) with their corresponding
groups of objects; (ii) match objects cards with their corresponding numerals cards
Tutors delivered their lessons mainly through the lecture method interspersed with the occasional demonstration
with a TLM to convey a concept or method of solving a simple mathematics problem. In 7 out of the 8 lessons
observed, few trainees were asked to demonstrate the use of TLMs to teach, say addition of two or three digit
numbers, fraction concept or ideas about shapes. Classroom interaction was mainly vertical, with teacher
educators posing the occasional question and receiving responses from trainees which were not follo wed up to
encourage reflective discussions. Overall, there was very little discussion on for example, how mathematical
knowledge and concepts might be represented in different forms and contexts to enrich children‘s learning and
understanding of mathematics.
Lessons concluded with class exercises and assignments were usually based on similar problems that teacher
educators had solved. An example:
“… use Cuisenaire rods to show the following addition of fractions: (i) 2/5 + 1/10 (ii) 1/3 + 1/4”.
What this and other similar assignments given at the end of lessons required was for trainees to describe a
procedure that tutors had already explained or demonstrated. Assignments were not designed to pose novel
problems, test conceptual understanding, and explore problems/challenges that might be faced in using
particular approaches in teaching basic mathematics concepts.
4.2.2 Tutors’ reflections on practice
Following lesson presentations the eight tutors were interviewed for insights into their practice. They all
expressed confidence in offering trainees appropriate insights into teaching primary mathematics, but also
admitted challenges in teaching some topics e.g. teaching of fractions . On fractions, the key issue was finding
different ways of representing the fraction concept in ways which cement a deeper understanding of operation of
fractions. Whilst they acknowledge the importance of studying school resources (primary mathematics textbook
and teacher‘s guide) in preparation to teach primary m athematics, they admitted that due to timetable constraints
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and the nature of the TTC examination requirements, these were not studied in detail. This meant that trainees
were not studying these materials for ideas on how mathematics concepts could be tau ght or modelled for
understanding. There was an overwhelming emphasis in their reflections on prescriptive knowledge for teaching
primary mathematics which appear to be seen as what learning to teach primary mathematics is essentially
about.
4.3 Teacher Trainees’ reflections on learning to teach mathematics
Whilst trainees in the focus groups agreed it is important to study school curriculum materials, they pointed out
that access to these materials was limited, and more importantly, tutors rarely made them the focus of study. In
addition, they rarely saw regular teachers make reference or use teachers‘ guidebook in their lesson preparation
and delivery. There was a clear sense that what they were learning in college might not be adequate preparation
for actual classroom teaching because of the inadequate exposure to school curriculum materials.
...We are not much exposed to the curriculum itself so the contents of the syllabus we are not much familiar with
them, so we are pleading that the system would be managed well so that we would get the syllabus here and
study it very well so, we would know what we are going to teach; or how the system looks like outside, otherwise
it will be very difficult for us. We have the knowledge alright, but how to go about it, there is the problem.
When we went there [teaching practice] it was then that we saw the syllabus, and we experienced how the
syllabus is even taught. When we are here [in college] we are taught how to teach with the materials, but when
we were on the observation I never saw any of the teachers teaching with any of the teaching and learning
materials. Yet I assume they were also taught that when they came here.
I was able to interact with the pupil‟s textbook but for the teacher‟s manual I didn‟t see any of them I only saw the
pupil‟s textbook.
Here on campus we don‟t have them [teachers‟ handbook]; even if we have we are not exposed to those books.
Trainees repeatedly said that the use of concrete objects and pictorial representation of mathematical
ideas/concepts are vital if children are to learn mathematics with understanding. As one put it, ―I have realised
that without TLMs it is difficult to understand. If you use the materials they [pupils] will understand‖ (FOFGM2).
The awareness of the importance of concrete representation of primary mathematics as the way to develop
conceptual understanding appears to be strong, but in practice (from NQT observations) teachers quickly shifted
to procedural and symbolic representations of m athematics soon after a short illustration with a TLM. In a
discussion about teaching fractions, trainees expressed the importance of using concrete aids to develop and
enhance conceptual understanding.
When we teach children we should use both concrete materials and diagrams. For the concrete the children can
touch them or hold them in their hands. The children can also see the diagram and it helps them to understand.
Using paper folding I can compare fractions. For example, I can show that three-quarter is bigger than onequarter. I will take two equal sheets of paper. I will fold one into four equal parts and shade one part. Then I will
take a second and fold into the same four equal parts and shade three parts. I will compare the two shaded parts
to show that three parts is bigger than one part.
...I can help pupils understand how to add fractions if I use the method. He used many TLMs such as a loaf of
bread, bar of soap, fraction board, Cuisenaire rods, paper and other.
As we probed further in what specific ways concretising primary mathematics actually supports development of
conceptual understanding, responses failed to illuminate in rich detail how these models enriched understanding.
It was as if, merely repeating how one had been taught to use an apparatus (e.g. Cuisenaire rods to teach place
value), that this will produce a gestalt moment making understanding possible. Trainees spoke with an air of
confidence about their ability and seem oblivious to the complexities and challenges of using mathematical
materials in large poorly resourced classroom contexts, and the constraints on practice.
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When asked to imagine the kind of challenges they are likely to face in real classrooms, often reference was
made to lack of teaching time to follow the prescribed methods. Trainees seem quite aware of the limitations of
their training in terms of delivery at the school or classroom level.
My worry is we may learn all these but if you get other colleagues out there who are not using these methods
then you cannot break the school culture, especially where the head teacher desires a style so to me it is a dicey
situation.
To me, all the tutors here are doing their best because most of them made their teaching lively, however, I do not
think we practice those methods in the real world. I think the teachers on the field have a different way of
presenting lessons and we might not differ from that.
I agree with my friend because our seniors on the field always give us the idea that what we learn here might not
be relevant and for that matter we should just learn the methods to pass our teaching practice; and after that we
do our thing as those on the field.
Some felt that the best way to deal with such problems would be for TTCs to organise in -service training for
regular teachers, but others quickly added that this would put a strain on college resources and capacity.
4.3.1 The role of local language in learning mathematics
The focus group discussions repeatedly brought up the issue of language of instruction and its potential effects
on learning mathematics. Basically, the position among trainees was that at lower primary, the best way to
explain mathematical concepts for understanding is to use the local language, and yet their training said very
little about this. They seem to see the problem of children who struggle with learning mathematics as a problem
of language used to convey mathematics concepts, and that the local language might be the solution.
I will use both English and Twi [local language] to teach children to understand.
I will use English and when the pupils don‟t understand then I use the local language to explain .
Others, however, pointed to a practical difficulty – where a teacher is assigned to teach in an area where he or
she did not speak the local language, this strategy would fail to work they argued. Apart from this practical
difficulty, there is clearly a belief that knowledge of local language has a role to play in helping to explain to
children mathematical ideas or concepts.
4.4 Linking knowledge to practice: insights from NQT teaching practices
The lessons of thirty-four newly qualified teachers teaching at the lower primary level (grades 1 to 3) were
observed followed by interviews interrogating their practice. All the NQTs had less than a year of teaching
experience (on average 7 months). Thus, they can be considered as novice teachers who would be coming face
to face with teaching contexts that threaten assumptions they had about teaching primary mathematics. Lesson
observations and interviews focused on understanding the nature of teaching challenges, how they explained
them, any adaptations that took place.
4.4.1 NQTs pedagogical content knowledge
By pedagogical content knowledge we were after insights into what Shulman (1986) describes as ―the most
useful forms of representation of those ideas, the most powerful analogies, illustrations, examples, explanations,
and demonstrations – in a word, the ways of representing and formulating the subject that makes it
comprehensible to others‖ (p 9, emphasis added). In this study we were interested in whether NQTs applied
their pedagogical knowledge and procedures in ways which informed their decision-making in teaching. Were
NQTs holding rigidly to knowledge gained from college, or adapting them in response to classroom context and
learner‘s characteristics?
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NQTs taught a wide range of primary topics, but focused a lot more on subtraction, addition, multiplication and
division of numbers. A few taught measurement of time and fractions. Many were able to mention more than one
method of teaching a concept even though in practice they usually demonstrated one method. One teacher, in a
peri-urban area for instance, used comparison [one-to-one matching] to introduce subtraction of numbers.
Although he did not introduce other approaches to develop the concept, he described another approach that
might have been used: ―missing addend approach‖. Others mentioned ―take away‖ and ―comparison‖ methods.
In practice, the teachers did not demonstrate the different approaches and seem to use one they were
comfortable with. Teacher Peri 13, a grade 3 teacher for instance, taught addition of numbers using the abacus
method as a demonstration and immediately moved to a symbolic representation of the concept.
What the NQT observations did not reveal were variations in the application of methods/TLMs to different
problems to illuminate concepts and deepen understanding. No single teacher made the attempt, for example, to
use a TLM or method to correct pupil errors or understandings. Once the TLM had been used in a
demonstration, it had served its purpose and was not revisited. NQTs felt that timetable constraints prevented
extensive use in teaching.
When asked which curriculum materials they had consulted in preparing for their lessons, many mentioned the
syllabus, textbook and teacher‘s guide. Judging from their practice, however, it does not appear that these
curriculum materials are studied intensely and used to enrich the teaching and learning process. Rather there is
reliance on the primary textbook for guidance on what to teach and how to teach it.
NQTs frequently code switch (i.e. move between using English and the local language) to teach and on no
occasion was a local language or English used entirely in teaching. NQTs felt that code switching was
necessary to ―help [pupils] to understand what is going on …, (Peri 12). Another teacher explained that he blends
the two languages [English language with the mother tongue], ―in the situation where you teach and [pupils] don‘t
understand you just translate it to the Twi [the local language]‖. Code switching in teaching mathematics to
develop conceptual understanding is not an issue of study in TTC‘s, and yet is commonly practiced in teaching at
lower primary level.
4.4.2 NQT understanding of practice
Both tutors and trainees believe that engaging learners in activities is a productive way of developing their
understanding of fundamental mathematics concepts. Some NQTs made the attempt to engage or involve
pupils actively in learning, but often at a superficial level – that is nto t. The activity method really is about
learner-focused approach to learning – it is about focusing on the learner‘s personal construction of
mathematical knowledge. It is an instructional model which fits a problem-solving or constructivist view of
learning mathematics or a method of instruction driven by the content to emphasize conceptual understanding
(Kuhs and Ball, 1986). But NQTs practices was largely instrumental and without the kind of learner-centred
focus which has the potential to allow pupils‘ construct their own understanding of the concepts. The problem
seems to be with the way they conceptualised and used activities in teaching and learning. We interrogated their
views for clarity on their understanding.
An activity method of teaching was explained by some as ―when the teacher gets the students involve in what
they are learning‖ (Peri, 30, emphasis added). This involvement in practice could be anything from pupils
answering a teacher‘s question to manipulating a concrete object to show a principle or concept. NQTs pointed
to occasions where pupils had been invited to the chalkboard to solve a question, or responded to a teachers‘
question as representing an activity approach. Another teacher (Peri 22) simply said an activity method of
teaching is when “I instruct the pupils to do this [an activity] then they will do it” (Peri 22). What was missing in
our observations was the organisation of learning in which practical activities are used to help students learn
basic mathematics concepts or are used to solve problems that could offer teachers insights into pupils
conceptual understanding or misconceptions.
Another method repeatedly mentioned and used by teachers was ‗demonstration‘. It usually entailed a teacher
using a manipulative to demonstrate an underlying mathematics concept, such as the concept of place value as
applied to addition of two or three digit numbers, whilst pupils watched. This was interspersed with the
57 | P a g e
occasional question ―do you understand‖, to which came the chorus response, ―yes sir!‖ Pupils were not
observing working with these teaching learning materials as part of a problem solving activity that tests their
understanding of the concept. Responses to why such opportunities were not offered suggest that teachers see
their demonstrations as sufficient.
Oh it was because when I demonstrated the clock to them, I described it to them so they have seen the real
clock which I am using to teach them, so seeing the real clock they can just pick up things easily and work out.
Another teacher said, in response to a similar question:
At first I was having a fractional card (shaded) so I show [sic] it to them and explain [sic]; and also they come
[sic] out with fraction of the shaded part and that of the un-shaded part.
The few times where pupils actually handled an instructional material was merely to repeat what a teacher had
demonstrated. It was almost as if by handling the objects there would be a magical transfer of understanding.
When we were solving the one on four and two on four [developing concept of fraction] I gave them the materials
and then I took part. I folded it [a piece of paper], for the first one I folded it into four portions and I asked them to
fold it as I have done and then the second one I folded it into four.
In this case no attempt was made to use the manipulative to show the relationship between the pupils‘
knowledge and the new knowledge that was being introduced. The manipulative was not being used to pose or
solve problems in ways that test understanding.
Another revealing aspect of NQTs practice is their understanding and use of group work. A few of the NQTs, who
used what they described as group work, did so at a rather superficial level. Basically for this group of NQTs,
group work meant a reorganisation of pupil space without the group actually working together to solve a problem
or discuss their work.
Interviewer: Why did you ask them to do it individually but not in groups?
Peri 12: I put them into groups
Interviewer: oh groups?
Peri 12: that is why they are sitting in twos
Interviewer: oh in twos, so they were working in gr
Peri 12: yes, doing group work
Interviewer: why is it that you did not group the pupils?
Peri 23: we have a lot of methods of involving the students in the lesson, I asked the group [members in each
row in the class] to give me one member each, so that person answers the question in the name of the group
[the row] …,
Interviewer: so was that group work?
Peri 23: in a way yes.
Interviewer: so how will the group help each other understand what you were teaching?
Peri 23: they helped me …when I said row one should come to give me three digits number they [the „group‟]
were all thinking of three digit numbers, I didn‟t say Benjamin from row one. After doing that I asked row one, is
your member correct and they said no because they were concentrating they were looking at me
Drawing on their teacher education research in Ghana, Akyeampong & Lewin (2002) provide some insight into
where these ideas might originate, and the reason why they are applied badly:
“School and college data indicate that in reality the use of group work as a teaching strategy is fragmented and
sporadic. It seems that the training curriculum does not provide many examples of the ways in which group work
can be organised given the logistical and spatial constraints of most Ghanaian classrooms. Neither does college
work often take this form (Akyeampong, Ampiah et al., 2000). Thus though group work is a theme emphasised
during training as a teaching strategy and is rate highly by teacher trainees and NQTs, this may be more a
reflection of an aspiration rather than a commitment to use the approach” (p. 348).
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Mostly, classroom interaction in the NQT classroom was vertical, characterised by teachers posing questions
and pupils responding without critical discussion of answers by the pupils or teacher. Horizontal dialogue with
pupils discussing and working on simple tasks rarely took place. Teachers quite frequently invite pupils to the
chalkboard to solve problems with the whole class watching. There were virtually no instances of teachers using,
an activity or questions to initiate critical dialogue amongst the pupils, or between themselves and pupils.
4.4.3 Attributes of a good primary mathematics teacher
The general consensus is that a good primary mathematics teacher is one capable of using teaching learning
materials (TLMs) effectively to promote understanding. But as discussed earlier the practice reflected a narrow
conception as exemplified in this explanation: “where the teacher uses teaching and learning materials and
during the teaching too he goes step by step for the pupils to understand, that makes a good mathematics
teacher” (Urban Teacher, 27), Another view is that a good primary teacher is able to use the full range of school
curriculum materials such as the syllabus, teacher‘s guide, and the pupils textbooks‖ (Peri Teacher 3) in planning
and delivering lessons.
Mastery of subject matter knowledge was another attribute mentioned by all NQTs. Here the explanation is that if
a teacher had ‗adequate‘ mathematics content knowledge then he or she also has the capability to teach it
effectively: “if the teacher has knowledge, has more knowledge on the content of the subject to make him deliver
well … he is a good teacher,‖ (Peri Teacher 24). Similarly another said, ―… you need to master the subject that
you are teaching, you need to master them, you need to know what you are going to teach, [and] you need to
have a fair knowledge of the subject that you are teaching” (Peri Teacher 2).
Knowledge of methods of teaching was the third common attribute. Here the emphasis was on the teacher‘s
ability to vary their methods in teaching. Finally, some mentioned the ability of the teacher to explain for pupils to
understand as another important attribute: “… a good mathematics teacher is one who is able to teach and at the
end the pupils will understand” (Urban Teacher, 13). What is not clear from their explanations is how this is
actually achieved in practice.
Generally we found the attributes ‗teacher-centric, similar to those espoused by tutors and trainees.
Explanations and examples given to illustrate these attributes were sometimes content-focused - ―knowing
mathematics means being able to demonstrate mastery of skills described by instructional objectives‖
(Thompson 1998). As we probed these responses for details, it became clear that NQTs largely valued teaching
as a process where knowledge is presented sequentially to the whole class, and where pupils listen and
participate in didactic interactions i.e. respond to teacher questions, and demonstrate ‗instrumental
understanding1‘ (Skemp 1978) evidenced in pupils exercises and assignments which mirrored procedures
modelled in the lesson by the teacher, or represented in textbooks. It points to a limited view of teaching for
understanding which is unlikely to promote conceptual understanding. Research has shown that ―students who
perform adequately on routine mathematical tasks often have impoverished conceptions and significant
misunderstandings of the mathematical ideas in those tasks‖ (Thompson 1998 p 136).
There were however, a small minority of teachers who perceived a good mathematics teacher as one who
adopted a constructivist or reflective approach to teaching and learning, as these comments suggest:
“willingness of the teacher to research his/her practice “… especially if maybe you teach and then something
doesn‟t go well…” (Urban Teacher 34); “ok in the lower primary a good teacher involves pupils in the activity, you
have to involve them, … they will get to know things you are teaching, [this] shows how good you are” (Rural
Teacher 15); “that person should be able to link everyday life activity to mathematics and also you have to avoid
rote learning” (Rural Teacher 16). Overall, only a few of these teachers indicated such understanding which
mainly described teachers‘ using approaches which scaffold pupils‘ cognitive understanding of mathematics.
Most attributes focused rather on teachers‘ mastery of the mathematics content, methods of teaching and use of
teaching learning materials (TLMs).
Views on what makes a good teacher of primary mathematics were also gathered through the large-scale
survey2 of 156 NQTs. The responses show that being able to explain mathematics topics using simple materials
is rated highly.
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Table 20: NQTs’ perception of what makes a good teacher of primary school mathematics
Percentage
What makes a good teacher of primary school
Strongly
Agree Disagree Strongly
mathematics?
Agree
disagree
(a) Being good at mathematics
32.68
49.02 14.38
3.92
(b) Being able to show maths in everyday
38.96
51.30 8.44
1.30
situations
(c) Teaching children to remember important
35.71
50.65 10.39
3.25
mathematical facts
(d) Showing children lots of worked examples
57.89
32.89 8.55
0.66
(e) Being able to explain maths topics using
81.41
16.67 1.92
0.00
simple materials
One would have expected that (c) and (d) would be the least preferred, as they exemplify didactic, rule -based
approaches which are unlikely to lead to conceptual understanding. What the responses suggest is that NQTs
value approaches that have the potential to produce conceptual understanding and those that are unlikely to do
so. It is much more likely that if they lack skills in performing (b) and (e), they might settle on the more mundane
approaches of (c) and (d). Generally, NQTs appear to understand that ‗using concrete and practical examples to
teach‘, is the best way of helping children to understand basic concepts in maths.
Table 21 NQTs’ perception of the best way to help children understand basic concepts in maths
Percentage
The best way to help children understand basic Strongly
Agree
Disagree Strongly
concepts in maths is to
Agree
disagree
(a) Show them lots of worked examples
58.55
30.26
6.58
4.61
(b) Teach them to remember important steps in 39.22
47.71
10.46
2.61
solving maths problems
(c) Make them practice lots of worked examples 74.84
23.23
1.94
0.00
(d) Use concrete and practical examples to
94.23
5.13
0.64
0.00
teach
But, interestingly, the majority also either agreed or strongly agreed with approaches that are unlikely to produce
such understanding.
4.4.4 NQTs knowledge of mathematics for teaching
The survey included items testing trainees and NQTs knowledge of common domains for primary teaching which
were set as tasks in ‗teaching scenarios‘. The items focus on the following domains 3: teaching the idea of
number, simple addition activity, subtraction, multiplication, and the idea of place value. Again, respondents were
asked to select responses which best reflects the approaches they would be happy to use. Measuring
mathematical knowledge for teaching, ideally will require, in-depth interviews of choices using follow-up
questions to get to the bottom of teachers thinking. Using a survey meant we had to abbreviate and focus on the
salient ideas, thus the results have to be interpreted with caution – what they reveal are probable orientations
and we would expect that those that might lead to weak conceptual understanding receive a low response.
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Table 22: Primary mathematics knowledge for teaching
1. Approaches to teach addition sums up to 9
a. Teach counting from 1 to 9 before showing on chalkboard examples of
additions that make up 9
b. Use a story problem: say to class Kwame has 2 mangoes and 3 oranges,
‘how many does he have altogether? Repeat for other numbers that add up
to 9
c. Form groups of children of different size not more than 9. Ask groups to
join to make up a total of 9 members
d. Teach class to count 1 to 9 and put sums on the board and ask them to find
answers
2. Which of the following strategies would you use to teach the subtraction
52-25?
a. Explain that you cannot subtract a smaller number from a bigger number
so you convert one of the tens to give 12 before you can subtract the 5
b. Use an example: ‘if you do not have enough to subtract, borrow 10 from a
friend to give you 12 and then subtract
c. Use objects such as bundles of sticks or stones to show how 52 and 25
can be expressed in tens and units, and then show the subtraction using
the idea of regrouping
d. Use a concrete example such as lining up 52 objects and taking away 25 of
them
e. Line up the numbers on the chalkboard vertically and show them how to
subtract by borrowing or converting from the tens column
3. You are planning a lesson to help children in your class understand the
idea of number. Which one of the following strategies would you chose as
a focus of your plan?
a. Repeat a string of numbers (e.g. 1,2, 3, etc) in identical order
b. Match equal number of objects, for example, four oranges to four cups
c. Write numbers 1 to 10 and ask children to repeat counting from 1 to 10
d. Organise children to match objects in two groups to find which group has
more
Agree
%
Disagree
%
87.6
12.4
63.4
36.6
92.7
7.3
62.2
37.8
77.5
22.5
64.9
35.1
86.8
80.0
13.2
20.0
74.0
26.0
%
10.4
55.8
11.7
22.1
The responses do reveal some interesting behaviour of the NQTs. On item 3, a good number of the teachers
(about 79%) selected items that are likely to convey meaningful understanding of numbers. But, about a third
(32%) also went for responses that at best would lead to procedural knowledge. For item 1 which examined
ideas about teaching simple addition, response (c), which again suggests an approach that is likely to lead to
better understanding, received the highest agreement (93%), but yet again, (a) came up as the second highest
agreement (87.6%. Although, (b) using a story problem in an everyday context might provide opportunities to
develop conceptual understanding, a high proportion in relation to the other disagreements, disagreed (37.8%).
Item 2 sought to test whether respondents will strongly favour approaches that have potential to produce
conceptual understanding of subtraction of two digit numbers requiring regrouping, but also of place value. Items
(e) and (a) are responses that are conceptually weak, and yet, quite a number of NQTs agree with them. Item (d)
was included to test whether teachers will see that although conc rete objects are suggested, the approach in
itself is conceptually poor. Interestingly, about 80% of respondents agreed with this approach. Item response (c)
which is conceptually the strongest approach received the highest agreement (86.8%).
In the survey, NQTs were also asked to put some activities to teaching multiplication into an order which might
develop pupils understanding. Figure below represents their response. If one took account of all the possible
combinations that different teachers suggested, on the whole, teachers tended to go for activities in this order:
(c); (b); (d) and (a). This order indicates a sequence which starts with the commutative property of multiplication,
61 | P a g e
followed by practice which deepens this understanding (b), before pupils themselves practice the skill (d),
followed finally by word problems to deepen understanding.
Figure 4
You want to introduce simple multiplication to your class. Put these activities into an order which best
develops their understanding in a lesson or series of lessons.
Order of activities to introduce multiplications
0
1
2
3
Do simple word problems involving multiplications
Guide them to complete multiplication sentences up to 18
Teach them that changing the multiplication order doesn't change the product
Guide them to write multiplication sentences
Finally, to test teachers‘ knowledge of fraction – i.e. comparing fractions (which both trainees and NQTs identify
as one of the difficult topics to teach), we presented them a simple question: which is the bigger fraction: ¾ or
3/5. The vast majority identified the right answer (i.e. ¾) – about 90%, but it means about 10% got it wrong,
which is worrying. A subsidiary to this question asked teachers to explain in writing how they know their answer
is right. What was even more revealing is how those who got it right explained their reasoning. Basically with
the exception of a few (less than 5%), the explanations mainly reflected procedural knowledge e.g. “I‟ll find the
lowest common denominator (LCM) which is 20, then divide it by 4 and 5 and multiply by their respective
numerators”. This explanation is hardly one which demonstrates conceptual understanding of the difference
between the two fractions, which suggests that most possess a procedural rather than a relational understanding
of fractions with implications for how they will teach this.
What are we to make of these survey findings? Before offering explanations, it is important to note the
limitations imposed by the structuring of item responses in terms of measuring deep conceptual understanding,
therefore, the need to interpret these findings with caution. Nevertheless, there are patterns which are broadly
indicative of NQTs mathematical knowledge and teaching approaches.
The first point to make is that, the emphasis training puts on concrete materials as objects for representing
mathematical concepts appears to be linked to any idea about effective teaching of mathematics at lower primary
level. There is no clear departure away from approaches that are conceptually bankrupt in terms of promoting
mathematical understanding - these are not overwhelmingly rejected, but almost equally preferred, and held with
approaches that would lead to better conceptual understanding. It appears that those activities and approaches
that potentially can produce deeper conceptual understanding, have not been acquired in w ays which can
displace less productive approaches that lead to poor conceptual understanding. NQTs, as did tutors and
trainees spoke about the value of concrete objects, manipulatives and practical activities in facilitating better
learning which might suggest that they possess understanding of how to enhance mathematics learning using
concrete apparatus. But as Ma (1999) points out, “a good vehicle … does not guarantee the right destination.
The direction that students go with manipulatives depends largely on the steering of their teacher … in order to
promote mathematical understanding, it is necessary that teachers help to make connections between
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manipulatives and mathematical ideas explicit …it seems that only the teachers who have a clear understanding
in the topic might be able to play this role” (p. 5-6).
On the basis of the evidence from Ghanaian NQTs primary mathematics knowledge for teaching, most of them
are unlikely to be able to translate constructive instructional knowledge into meaningful learning for their
students.
4.4.5 Exploring topics teacher trainees and NQTs find difficult to teach
We were also interested in gaining the perceptions of the exiting teacher trainees and NQTs on topics in the
primary school curriculum that perceive to be difficult to teach (table 23). For the teacher trainees their
perceptions will largely be based on their college preparation, whilst NQTs perceptions are likely to be influenced
by experiences of teaching in real classrooms. An underlying presumption behind our analysis is that, NQTs idea
of difficulty will factor in classroom context and how that affects their pedagogical practices. It is important to be
reminded of the fact that all the Ghana NQTs had been teaching nearly a year under the supervision of regular
teachers in the schools. It might be expected that their optimism and confidence in their abilities might not be too
different from that of the trainees, and in that sense changes may not be substantial since they may not have had
many experiences trying to teach these topics.
Table 23: Topics Trainees and NQTs find easy or difficult to teach
Which of the following maths topics do you Respondent Mean
find difficult or easy to teach in lower
primary
Adding two or three digit numbers
NQTs
4.23
involving renaming (‘carrying’)
Trainees
4.10
Comparing Fractions
NQTs
3.66
Trainees
3.92
Division
NQTs
4.20
Trainees
4.084
Estimating and Measuring of Length,
NQTs
3.75
Volume and Weight
Trainees
3.37
Multiplication of numbers (two digits and
NQTs
4.11
three digits)
Trainees
4.16
Place Value (0 to 100) i.e. tens, units etc
NQTs
4.16
Trainees
4.05
Recognising Fractions
NQTs
3.76
Trainees
3.72
Solving Word Problems
NQTs
3.43
Trainees
2.97
Subtracting from two or three-digit
NQTs
4.09
numbers involving regrouping
Trainees
3.91
(‘borrowing’)
The meaning of numbers and counting
NQTs
4.64
Trainees
4.61
Note: 1=not suitable; 2= very difficult, 3= difficult; 4= easy 5= really easy
Std. Dev
.85
1.01
1.19
1.13
.81
.87
1.10
1.29
.98
.91
.86
1.03
1.00
1.09
1.09
1.35
.98
1.10
.60
.57
Pearson
Chi2
Cramer’s
V
NS
Pr=0.03
NS
Pr=0.04
Pr = 0.002
NS
0.1229
0.1193
0.1521
NS
Pr = 0.000
NS
0.1735
NS
An immediate observation is that, both trainees and NQTs share quite similar opinions about whether a topic is
easy or difficult. In other words, classroom effects and other influences exogenous to college level training have
not caused substantial change in the way NQTs feel about their ability to teach primary mathematics topics.
Secondly, teaching ‗number and counting‘ is considered the easiest of all the topics by both trainees and NQTs.
Topics that both tended to think are difficult are ‗solving word problems‘, ‗estimating and measuring of length,
volume and weight‘. Teaching multiplication of numbers is considered an easy topic. NQTs are more likely to
think teaching ―comparing fractions‖ and ―estimating and measuring length, volume and weight‖ is slightly l ess
easy than trainees. On the other hand, trainees think ―solving word problems‖ is a little more difficult than NQTs.
63 | P a g e
These findings do not present a clear picture of progressive change that one might strongly associate with
school/classroom effects on perception about difficulty, or otherwise, of teaching primary mathematics topics
(effect sizes of the changes are small as indicated by Cramer‘s V for statistically significant results). On the other
hand, the results may indicate that dispositions to teaching primary mathematics topics that might have been
influenced by the TTC curriculum still persist nearly a year after leaving college. Finally, once insights from the
qualitative data which focuses more on exploring pedagogical reasoning of the NQTs are factored in, (see 4.4.2
& 4.4.3), then NQTs indication that they find certain topics easy to teach, does not necessarily mean they
possess understanding to teach effectively. In fact, a belief in one‘s ability to teach a topic well, when in reality
this perceived ability does not translate into an ability to teach for conceptual understanding is a dangerous
thing. The effect is that, teachers are unlikely to embrace reflective practice in ways that allow their
understanding of pedagogical procedures to grow and improve pupils‘ understanding of mathematics in early
years of schooling.
4.4.6 How do NQTs deliver their mathematics lessons?
Finally, we turn our attention to how NQTs structured their lesson delivery for further insights into issues raised in
the previous section. Basically, all the NQTs teaching could be described as following three sequential steps: an
introduction, the main presentation led by the teacher, and a conclusion which involved giving pupils similar
exercises to perform in their exercise books. This view about teaching according to them had been acquired
from their training and was seen as particularly important in teaching primary mathematics for understanding.
In college they (tutors) taught us … , it should be in a sequential order so that the level of understanding of the
pupil will be in order so that they will achieve or they will understand the lesson better …” (Peri Teacher 13)
An important factor which informed the lesson delivery was how statement of behavioural objectives were stated
and used to guide the delivery. NQTs emphasised observable (cognitive) learning outcomes that was to be
achieved by the end of lessons. These two exemplify this common practice:
1. By the end of the lesson the pupil will be able to:
(a)
identify the corner of a square and a rectangle as well as their sides
(b)
state the number of sides and right angles of a square and a rectangle (Urban Teacher 3)
2. By the end of the lesson pupils will be able to use the symbols >, < and = in comparing like fractions (Rural
Teacher 4).
These were then followed by ‗stimulus‘ that teachers‘ planned and executed as the pupils rather passively kept
pace with the lesson. Quite clearly, teachers‘ behavioural objectives as stated in the examples above lacked
conceptual depth, rather focused narrowly on procedural knowledge of mathematics or recall of knowledge. This
was reinforced in the exercises teachers gave to their pupils to close their lessons. Pupil exercises were simply
based on the examples that teachers had worked in the classroom, and often required pupils remembering steps
or simple algorithmic procedures as these cases illustrate: a grade three teacher, for instance gave the following
exercises after working similar problems in teaching division fact: (1). 6 ÷ 2 =; (2). 4 ÷ 1 =; (3). 16 ÷ 2 =; (4). 12 ÷
4 =. A grade one teacher gave her pupils the following exercises after teaching subtraction fact: 9 -7 =; 15-3 =
Whilst these exercises by themselves and for particular purposes are good for pupils to do, it was the teaching
that lay behind them that for us raised questions about whether pupils had grasped the underlying concepts.
4.5
Summary
From the lesson observations and interviews with all thirty-four NQTs we have identified a predominant model of
teaching which fits Kuhs and Ball‘s (1986) ‗classroom -focused view of teaching‘, described by Thompson (1998).
What this is, is, a perspective of effective teachers as those who ―skilfully explain, assign tasks, monitor student
work … manage the classroom environment, preventing, or eliminating, disruptions that might interfere with the
flow of planned activity‖ (Kuhs & Ball 1986, p. 26). Thompson adds, ―accordingly, the students‘ role is to listen
attentively to the teacher and cooperate by following directions, answer questions, and completing tasks
assigned by the teacher‖ (p. 137). This model of teaching characterised NQTs‘ teaching of primary mathematics,
which we believe shifts teaching from an emphasis on developing deep conceptual understanding through pupils‘
personal construction of mathematical knowledge. We also see that this approach to teaching is strongly
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influenced by what teachers learn in the colleges, and confirms MUSTER analysis of TTC curriculum delivery in
Ghana which ―… stressed prescriptive teacher behaviours, rather than critical reflection and personal agency in
teaching (Akyeampong & Lewin 2002, p. 347).
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Costs and Efficiency
5.1 Introduction
The purpose of exploring costs in a study of teacher preparation is to address two main issues, one of which
relates to tutor-trainee ratios and its relationship to costs per trainee, and second the implications for improving
effectiveness – that is to address the question: what teaching group sizes would optimise efficiency in the
preparation of a lower primary mathematics or reading teacher. Group size is important for reasons that have to
do with opportunities for engaging trainees in practical learning in colleges and the resources associated with it.
If small group work activity and tutorial support is to be promoted to enhance the professional learning
experience of trainees, then ensuring relatively small class sizes under conditions of improved instructio nal
resources is important. The costs and efficiency analysis looks at the relationship between class sizes, tutortrainee ratio, teaching periods per week and the cost per trainee. Data from the two francophone countries (Mali
and Senegal) and two of the Anglophone countries (Ghana and Kenya) are used for the analysis 3. In order to
make categorical statements about the cost effectiveness of any of the individual programmes we would need to
have a great deal more complex data, but the analysis presented here raises issues which might start a
discussion amongst policy makers.
5.2 Assumptions 4
This analysis looks at the elements of the college based training that are directed towards how to teach language
and mathematics and need to be considered along with the issues raised in previous chapters about the balance
between methods teaching and subject content teaching. The cost per trainee (Ct) can be shown as a function of
average tutors‘ salaries
and tutor to trainee ratios5 (TTR). In general, economic concern with cost
efficiency would imply minimising
and maximising TTR in ways consistent with maintaining quality. But
this will depend on what is delivered to trainees in the college mathematics and reading curriculum, which will
also depend on salary costs per trainee and how this translates into tutors contact hours with trainees and the
work which surrounds these contact hours. So, for example, a tutor could teach a group of 100 trainees to
maximize cost efficiency, but the constraints on resources and intensity of practical learning activity would mean
this is achieved at the expense of cost effectiveness – high practical/group learning intensity at sustainable costs.
The cost and efficiency question is whether lower tutor salary c osts per trainee and higher trainee-tutor ratios can
be achieved without necessarily diminishing trainee contact time or practical intensity. Addressing this and other
related questions is important because of the implications for (re) structuring the TTC reading or mathematics
curriculum, the resources required to deliver the curriculum, and the number of tutors that might be needed to
optimise teaching group size. It is worth pointing out that recurrent teaching costs per trainee will rise with
average tutors‘ salaries and fall as the TTR increases. The main cost drivers can be separated into recurrent,
salary and non-salary costs, and into fixed and variable costs. Recurrent salary costs are due to teaching faculty
and support staff (Lewin, 1999). In our analysis we have assumed non-teaching salaries in the colleges relative
to teaching salaries to be small. We have also excluded capital, equipment and supplies, and other costs such
as maintenance, repairs, services etc.
5.3 Relationship between costs, teaching group size and teaching load
Data on class size, number of trainees and staff was collected in all four TTCs surveyed and trainee-tutor ratios
(TTR) calculated (table 1). Based on the data the following observations were
College 4 has relatively low teaching loads for the same amount of periods a week in mid-sized groups. In
colleges 1, 2 and 3 teaching loads are relatively high for the same contact time for group sizes that are also
3
Data from Tanzania and Uganda were not sufficiently complete to be included in the analysis
The methodology for the cost and efficiency analysis is informed by Lewin’s (1999) MUSTER discussion paper
1 on “Counting the Cost of Teacher Education: Cost and Quality Issues
5
See appendix 1 explaining the mathematical relationship.
4
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relatively high. It is not surprising, therefore that, trainees in the focus groups reported the prevalence of lectures
and note-taking in their methods courses.
The recurrent teaching costs per trainee based on the calculation between average teaching salary and TTR
show interesting differences (see annex 1) (table 2). As the data suggest, the number of tutor teaching periods
per week is quite low which raises questions about efficiency. Average class contact time of 10 hours per week
(2 hours per day) is not excessive. Group sizes could be smaller with larger numbers of contact hours. College 4
has the highest costs because it has a smaller TTR in relation to the average tutor salary. If it employed fewer
tutors, the costs would drop because TTR would reduce. However, this has to be balanced against the cost to
efficiency. College 4 could improve its efficiency in relation to the costs per trainee if it increased tutors‘ teaching
periods per week. Even though tutors on average teach the same number of periods per week (10hours), but
because college 4 has a teaching group size of 35, the tutors have a lower teaching load compared to tutors in
other colleges. This is also because college 4 employs more tutors, and therefore, has a higher cost per trainee
If more tutors teach on the methods programme, this will increase considerably the cost per trainee because of
the fact that the TTRs will reduce considerably at the current salary levels. Only half the English tutors in College
3 and College 4 teach methods. In Colleges 1 and 2 this is a fifth and a third respectively. Thus, if all tutors
taught the methods courses the TTRs would be much lower and potentially improve the trainee learning
experience by reducing the average teaching group size, but this will come at a higher cost per trainee.
Table 6.1: Efficiency indicators in 4 colleges
College
Class
Size
English
Class
Size
Maths
45
45
45
35
50
50
45
37
1
2
3
4
Number of
Trainees6
st
1 year
2nd Year
300
301
272
300
310
299
267
350
Number of Tutors7
English
Maths
5 [2]
6 [2]
4 [2]
8 [4]
6 [3]
6 [3]
5 [2]
8 [4]
TraineeTutor
Ratio (TTR)
English
62
50
67
44
TraineeTutor Ratio
(TTR)
Maths
52
50
53
44
Table 6.2: Efficiency indicators and unit cost
College
Number
of
Trainees
Number of
Tutors8
[Reading/Maths]
Trainee-Tutor
Ratio
(TTR)
[Reading/Math]
1
2
3
4
310
299
267
350
2/3
2/3
2
4
155 / 103
150 /100
133 / 133
87 / 87
Cost 9 per
Trainee (Av
Salary per
Tutor10 =
3600GHS)
Cs
[Reading/Math]
23 / 35
24 / 36
27 / 27
41/41
Average
Teaching
Group
Size
45
45
45
35
Number
of
Trainees
Teaching
Periods
per
Week11
10
10
10
10
Teaching
Load 12
23/34
33/22
30/30
25/25
6
In the first year training focuses on content knowledge. Year 2, semester 1 is when methods courses are
taken. We use the trainee number here for the calculations
7
Number in bracket represents tutors who teach methods only and would be responsible for teaching how to
teach reading and mathematics
8
Tutors teaching methods including reading in second year second semester: 3 weeks out of 12 for reading
related components
9
Cost per trainee (CS =
)
10
Assuming average tutor salary of 300 GHS per month equivalent to 3600 GHS a year equivalent to $2491
(1USD = 1.445GHS)
11
This is based on average of method tutors teaching period per week
12
Teaching load is an indication of the effort of tutors which factors in class size and the number of periods
taught.
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5.4
Conclusions
The key lessons from the cost and efficiency indicators are as follows:
If tutor-trainee ratio is reduced, allowing more tutors to teach methods, the recurrent teaching costs per trainee
will increase if the average tutor salary is kept at minimal levels, (This is based on the Cost per trainee: CS =
see appendix 1). Therefore, should the teaching group size be reduced and at the same time increase the
number of tutors who teach reading or mathematics? If group size is reduced without increasing the number of
method tutors, teaching loads will increase and this could potentially reduce learning efficiency. However, if more
tutors are employed this is likely to increase TTRs and increase the cost per trainee as the formula suggests.
Policy makers have to make choices that maximise efficiency at costs that are sustainable. Generally, for ITE,
high ratios should be thought of as unsuited for delivering an ITE curriculum that requires trainees to engage in
learning activities with extensive exploratory or reflective work, which is what potentially will improve the training
experience. In all the college classroom observations, teaching was organised in large groups where the lecture
method was common. Although this ensures low costs per trainee, it is unlikely to produce rich and diverse
instructional practices where group work and activity learning is the focus. In reaching any decision about how to
improve learning experiences in the colleges, teaching group size and teaching load should be the critical
factors. Although reducing TTRs can increase costs per trainee this has to be looked at also in terms of the
potential for improving the quality and efficiency of learning to teach.
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Chapter 6
Discussion and recommendations for Policy and Practice
6.1 Teacher training in reading: emerging issues and recommendations
This study began with an examination of the teacher training and school curriculum in reading and exploration of
its implications for teaching competencies. It described what goes on in teacher training as far as reading
education is concerned, and what beginning teachers actually do in their classrooms. In doing these, we related
what we found to what the research literature says about teaching reading in early primary schooling, and
compared this with what CPD teachers do. In this final chapter, we discuss the issues emerging from this study
and draw together the teaching competencies and skills that the literature suggests to be incorporated into the
curriculum of primary teacher education programmes and which should become the preferred focus of teachers‘
professional development activities.
6.1.1 Emerging issues
What do the teacher training and school reading curricular entail?
In our critical examination of the TT programme, we discovered that English Language studies as a course is
taught in all the four semesters of the two-year residential course work of the teacher training programme.
However, there is more emphasis on the study of language and literature than on pedagogical knowledge and
skills for teaching, as the methodology component of the training programme is taught in only one semester. Out
of the 14 topics which make up the methodology course, only three are devoted to reading. Among others, these
topics are expected to equip the trainees with knowledge and skills in the two main methods for teaching
beginning reading, which are the ‗look-and-Say‘ and the phonic methods, as well as the eclectic approach
consisting of a combination of the two methods; correction procedure which provides strategies for handling
pupils‘ difficulties relating to reading and the three stages for teaching reading comprehension known as
preliminary stage, reading and post-reading stage.
Recommended teaching strategies are those that give priority to problem-solving, decision making, critical and
reflective thinking. It also indicates that student-centred and mentoring approaches will be used in some cases,
with the lecture method or unilateral interaction approach adopted in very few cases. Again, it states that special
emphasis will be placed on practical and tutorial sessions (Institute of Education, 2005). The assumption is that
trainees would be trained to view teaching as a problem-solving activity in which reflective practice is at the core.
With these suggested teaching strategies, it would be expected that the TT classroom would encourage trainees
to be actively involved in the learning process in order to arrive at practicable pedagogies for envisaged
problems, with the teacher as a moderator or facilitator
The school reading syllabus indicates two general objectives to be achieved at the lower primary, stated thus:
the pupil will be able to: (i) read, understand and derive information from texts of varied nature, and (ii) use
reading techniques to understand information in books. On this, the school syllabus appears to place emphasis
on behaviourist theory which expects achievable, measurable and observable learning outcomes.The content of
the syllabus also makes assumptions about teachers‘ knowledge and understanding of two main methods for
teaching formal reading, namely the phonic and ‗look-and-say‘, with a combination of these in a lesson to
achieve the benefits of both. It is also expected that teachers would be able to design and use appropriate TLMs
in almost every lesson in the lower primary, especially in primary 1 and 2, and will be able to use lesson activities
that will actively engage all children while at the same time, focusing on individuals in order to identify peculiar
difficulties and address them.
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What actually goes on during training?
Through the lessons we observed and the post observation interviews with teacher educators and trainees, we
found that theoretical knowledge about how to teach reading, as spelt out in the TT course outline is typically
transmitted to trainees by the teacher educators. For example, some of the foundational elements of reading as
found in the international literature such as vocabulary, prediction, fluency and comprehension (NRP, 2000;
Center for Education, 2010) were typical aspects of the TT methodology lessons. However, there was no
observed variety in the strategies teacher educators introduced for teaching these elements. In other words, in all
the 4 colleges, the same limited number of strategies was taught to trainees (e.g. only one strategy, i.e.
questions was introduced as a comprehension strategy, although the literature indicates 7). There was therefore
the sense that they had not been exposed to in depth knowledge of a wide variety of strategies to apply to
different learning situations.
With regard to TT strategies for teaching trainees, we did not observe or hear about the use of the studentcentred, problem-solving, decision making, critical and reflective thinking strategies the TT syllabus recommends.
Both the trainees and the teacher educators also revealed that due to the examination-oriented focus of the
training programme, lectures are rushed in order to finish with the course content before the examinations,
thereby employing transmission modes and creating some deficiencies. For example, we were told that
knowledge about language learning theories is limited, since the teacher educators themselves l acked adequate
knowledge to teach it, and phonics instruction is taught superficially.
Again, there was the sense that trainees lacked practical exposure to a critical analysis of the basic school
curriculum materials, an aspect of their training which was intended to enable them to critique, interpret and
select materials in the school curriculum materials appropriately to prepare their lessons. Finally, they also lacked
exposure to practical examples of the complexities of language learning in real classrooms, which could have
made them see teaching as problem-solving. Consequently, being equipped with two main methods for teaching
reading: the ‗look-and-say‘ and phonics (either of which they thought they could use), and having knowledge
about a set of procedures and TLMs, the trainees repeatedly conveyed the sense that teaching reading to
beginners is a simplistic activity, which they could easily execute. But was it that easy once they were ushered
into real classrooms?
6.2
How do NQTs use their training to teach reading? Gaps in their practice
Much concentration on ‘look-and-say’ and rote/chorus reading
This study found that the typical reading lessons of the NQTs were characterised by the look-and-say method,
whole-word and sentence approach, depending on the grade level. By using this approach, the NQTs‘ practice
agrees with Commeyras and Inyega‘s (2007) finding that the whole-word, look-and-say, or the sentence-andstory method facilitates learning to read, as the textbook on ‗Methods of Teaching English for UTDBE
Programme‘ by the Ghana Education Service (2004) also proposes. However, there was predominant use of the
look-and-say and repeated chorus reading without much effort to develop word recognition. This practice,
coupled with their failure to use phonics instruction when that could have provided the strategy for word attack,
confirmed the trainees‘ claim that very little time was devoted to phonics instruction during their training. It
appears that the teacher educators themselves are not equipped with knowledge and skills to teach phonics.
The international literature shows that systematic phonics instruction in a reading lesson aids the reading and
spelling ability of both good and struggling readers and also increases accuracy in decoding and word
recognition skills, which in turn facilitate comprehension (NRP, 2000; Bentolila & Germain, 2005; Trudell &
Schroeder, 2007; Slavin et al., 2009). Incidental phonics instruction, which is used to highlight particular
elements opportunistically when they appear in text, has also been found to provide word attack strategies.
Unfortunately, these very important elements are missing in the reading lessons of many Ghanaian NQTs, as our
observation showed.
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Over emphasis on fixed teaching procedures
In their lessons, all the NQTs used fixed teaching procedures, and gave the sense that their main concern was to
get the procedures right. We noted that they lacked reflection on the relevance of the procedures and its impact
on the learners. The effect of this fixation on procedures was that, the NQTs appeared insensitive to the pupils‘
context and the need for adaptation when the method and procedure did not work, thus, portraying that they
demonstrate low reflection in practice.
Again, most of them used teacher-directed instructional strategies. There was very little (or none at all) effort to
engage the pupils in the lessons, as the interaction was mainly vertical through question and answer, and
sometimes, by transmission mode, not employing other interaction strategies such as group and pair work to aid
reading or differentiated teaching and learning tasks for struggling readers. This seems to result from the images
of teaching they have observed from teacher educators, which Sifuna (1990, cited in Commeyras and Inyega,
2007) recognises are culturally transmitted and deeply internalized. In relation to this situation, Akers & Hardman
(2001) conclude that teachers who have been trained this way may find it difficult to imagine that knowledge,
information, and skills could possibly be transmitted in any way other than through teacher-led recitation.
Apparently, the TT programme had failed to expose them to student-centred, problem-solving, decision making,
critical and reflective thinking, which the syllabus recommended (Institute of Education, 2005).
As we compared the NQTs‘ practice with the trainees‘ interviews, we had the feeling that when in college, the
ideas/concepts/approaches seem simple to apply, but when they are ushered into real classrooms, they find the
situation different, and yet lack the knowledge and skills to deal with the challenges. To us, this reflects a view of
teaching that is not sufficiently problem-solving based, and the need for adaptation if meanings are to be
achieved. That is, there is a difference between teaching trainees how to systematically apply a method, and
applying the methods in a way which helps children develop the concepts.
Lastly, we discuss and compare our findings on the trainees‘ understanding and NQTs‘ use of specific strategies
that facilitate reading and comprehension. To begin with, all the trainees expressed theoretical understanding of
the importance of TLMs, which they indicated that they would use to make their teaching of reading easy. In
practice, however, very few NQTs used them. In the case of those who used them, pictures on cardboards and
in the pupils‘ textbooks were the dominant materials, apparently, to give meaning to the text, prior to reading it.
Very few NQTs used word and/or sentence cards for word-recognition. In some instances, these were poorly
used, as the teachers merely flashed them and put them aside without using them in activities to engage the
children or ever going back to them throughout the lesson.
Next, we look at how fluency was developed in their lessons. Fluency is known to be one of the several critical
factors necessary for reading comprehension. The literature on reading provides evidence to show that fluent
readers are able to read orally with speed, accuracy, and proper expression (NRP, 2000). Reading lessons
typically use two instructional approaches, each of which has several variations, to teach reading fluency. The
first is guided repeated oral reading, which has been found to encourage students to read passages orally with
systematic and explicit guidance and feedback from the teacher. In this approach, the procedure which has been
found to have a significant and positive impact on word recognition, fluency, and comprehension across a range
of grade levels is the one which provides guidance from teachers, peers, or parents. The second is independent
silent reading, which encourages students to read silently on their own, inside and outside the classroom, with
minimal guidance or feedback (NRP, 2000). Here also, research shows that when teachers encourage students
to engage in wide, independent, silent reading, it increases reading achievement (Center for Education, 2010).
In their use of these strategies, the NQTs allowed only good readers to do reading aloud in class and failed to
use group activities which could have made their peers provide guidance, saying that the group work is time consuming. Moreover, there was predominant use of chorus reading aloud which made it difficult to identify
pupils who needed guidance. Through our interviews with the teacher trainees and NQTs, we had the impression
that they understood and used these strategies without knowing their variations and effects. It appears that in
college, these two approaches (i.e. reading aloud and silently) are introduced as part of the procedure for
teaching reading, without discussing their variations and the skills they are intended to develop.
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The last element of reading we discuss is comprehension, which refers to ‗making sense of texts‘. Th e NRP‘s
extensive review of research literature on reading found that there are 7 comprehension strategies which help
readers to understand texts, namely summarising what is read, generating questions of the text, using diagrams,
maps or pictures to understand the text, predicting what will happen (in the process of reading), clarifying what
has happened, drawing inferences and self-regulating or monitoring. Studies show that multiple strategy use,
through explicit or formal demonstration by the teacher is highly effective in enhancing children‘s understanding
of texts (Joshi (2005; Center for Education, 2010). What we found in relation to this, is similar to the situation
regarding fluency discussed above. In helping children to make sense of the text, both the trainees and NQTs
talked about and used questions, and in a few instances, explanation of the text, and this ran through all the
lessons we saw. As we have argued earlier in this paper, the TT programme devotes very little time to training in
reading, and this situation accounts for what appears to be a superficial exposure to knowledge of a variety of
strategies for teaching all the foundational elements of reading, including comprehension. In the situation where
the teacher educators themselves bemoan their inadequate knowledge in some of the aspects of reading
education, such a situation can be expected.
6.3
Addressing the gaps: Recommendations
We have pointed out that in the international literature, reading has been defined generally to includ e several
behaviours such as reading real words in isolation or in context, reading pseudo words that can be pronounced
but have no meaning, reading text aloud or silently, and comprehending text that is read silently or orally (NRP,
2000). The elements of reading which can bring about these behaviours are what the NRP study lists as
alphabetic, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Within each element are a number of strategies
which can be used to bring about reading. In view of the absence of some of these behaviours and elements in
lower primary reading lessons in Ghana, and the discussion on the provision of reading education in the
preceding sections, we make the following proposals to improve the reading education that is provided at the
teacher training institutions:
The reading curriculum
 What reading is and how it is conceptualised is fragmented among tutors, trainees and NQTs. Reading
extends beyond simply teaching pupils to recognise letters and read simple words. The use of
storytelling and other approaches that arouse the interest of children to read is as important as teaching
them the fundamental skills. Reading for understanding should be emphasised especially at primary 3
level.
 The benefits and variety of strategies that are associated with the five foundational elements of reading
should be introduced as a topic in the methodology component of the reading curriculum, and taught
comprehensively.
 The reading curriculum in the CoEs should introduce different teaching strategies such as problemsolving, decision making, critical and reflective thinking as topics in the methodology component.
 The reading teacher education programme should incorporate examples of NQTs‘ lessons as
exemplars/case studies for analysis in problem-solving sessions.
6.4 Teacher training in basic mathematics: emerging issues and
recommendations
Teacher training focuses much of its attention on mathematics subject content and treats the methods of
teaching mathematics as more or less a secondary component where the emphasis is on trainees learning
specific methods linked to topics in the school curriculum. Although tutors, trainees and NQTs recognise the
value of studying school curriculum materials especially the basic mathematics textbooks in use in the schools,
they all admit not being able to do so at college level. Because of the amount of time spent on teaching subject
content matter, not much time is left in the college curriculum to study the school materials. Besides, the
methodology for studying these materials is not provided, which means even if there was time to study them,
how this might be done is not documented in training manuals and textbooks. The literature suggests that
teachers who have had opportunity to study school mathematics materials understand it better and are able to
teach more effectively from these books (see Ma, 1999).
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There is no doubt that instructional materials (TLMs) are viewed as a crucial in developing conceptual
understanding in basic mathematics, and although the trainees and NQTs seem to understand how to use them
to illustrate concepts, translating this into practice in a way which would have allowed pupils to make sense of
the concepts from manipulating the TLMs was more problematic. We believe that this is because the TLMs are
not used diagnostically by tutors, trainees and NQTs. Again, the way in which they are presented in the
textbooks does not lend itself to this purpose. It may be necessary to develop guidelines or strategies in how to
use mathematics instructional materials through activities that allow pupils to engage with the materials in a more
investigative manner so that their connection with the underlying concepts might be more clearly realised by
pupils.
Clearly, there are topics that trainees and NQTs indicate they find more difficult than others to teach at lower
primary level, in particular the teaching of volume and measurements. This is rather surprising given that there
are several practical examples in which these mathematics concepts apply in everyday life. What it suggests is
that trainees and NQTs themselves lack the fundamental concepts underlying these topics. More attention may
need to be given to the study of topics trainees and NQTs find difficult to teach, but also perhaps, expl ore why
they find these topics difficult to teach – whether it is a reflection of their own weak understanding or whether it is
because they are unable to connect them to the real world in ways which enables pupils to develop their basic
meanings.
The over-concentration on following procedures and seeing that as demonstrating ability to teach for
understanding is a fundamental weakness in the ITE programme. What this has succeeded in doing is to make
teachers believe that once they can understand the steps and reproduce them faithfully in their own teaching,
then they are teaching for understanding. This way of seeing things, cuts the learner out of the equation of
teaching basic mathematics for understanding. It became clear during NQT observations that the methods serve
the teacher rather than the teacher using the methods to promote understanding for the learner. Almost all
lessons start with some kind of demonstration by the teacher as a concrete step to a more abstract presentation.
Teachers are not spending enough time on the concrete materials in a way which allows pupils to seriously
manipulate them and form their own understanding based on the structure of the apparatus they have to
manipulate. Because teachers are keen to follow ‗teaching steps‘, and hurriedly to the stage where the real
teaching centres on chalkboard work, the potential to use these objects to develop understanding is sometimes
lost.
The Mathematics curriculum
 There is clearly an emphasis in the COE curriculum on mathematics content knowledge which takes up
a considerable time in the programme. Reformers need to review how some of this content can be
developed and taught in ways which enables trainees to understand deeply how the concepts might be
taught using strategies and resources that convey deep meaning
 Introducing mathematical investigations might be one way of shifting this focus
Teacher educators and reading education
 Teacher educators should be given retraining in practical knowledge in language learning theories and
their relevance for teaching English reading in Ghana.
 Knowledge of phonics instruction and other word attack strategies should be taught to teacher
educators and emphasised in the reading programme.
 Teacher educators should be equipped with prac tical examples of how to develop problem-solving,
decision making, critical and reflective thinking in trainees. It is important that they develop skills in
engaging trainees actively in order to arrive at practicable pedagogies for envisaged challenges in the
reading lesson.
 The strategies for developing word recognition and text comprehension in the course of the reading
should be given more attention.
 Teacher educators should provide training in monitoring children‘s reading to find out about their fluen cy
in reading, identifying those who need assistance and using a variety of strategies or differentiated tasks
to suit different learners.
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
The school reading programme should focus on the introduction of new methodologies that move away
from rote learning/reading and teacher-centred procedures to activity, discovery and child-centred
procedures.
Teacher educators and mathematics education
 Learning to teach mathematics departs significantly from approaches which require a thoughtful way of
exploring the basic structures of the subject using concrete materials. One way to correct this is to
spend time in college studying mathematics school curriculum materials.
 The way in which TLMs are used fails to engage with why and how they work to produce understand ing.
What may be needed are new resources which call for more critical engagement with teaching and
learning resources for learning basic mathematics.
 College training does not engage at all with real misconceptions and challenges that Ghanaian pupils
might have in learning mathematics in the early grades. Teacher educators need to bring some of what
happens in the real classroom into the college classroom for interrogation and reflection.
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Appendix A
The Teacher Training Course Outline for English Language Studies
YEAR 1
Semester 1 (Content-based)
Objectives
Summary of topics
By the end of the course, the Introduction to Elements
student will be able to:
of Communication;
1. Use
the
receptive
(decoding)
and Speech Work: definition,
productive (encoding) importance, and organs
skills effectively in their of speech/speech
communicative activities; production, vowels,
2. Organise and render consonants;
ideas
clearly
and
coherently;
Word classes: types,
3. Identify and describe the features and functions of
major and minor word major and minor;
classes in English;
4. Give the narration of an Reading
event that has taken Comprehension/Textual
place and
Analysis;
5. Read a passage and be
able to extract relevant Introduction to the four
information from it.
writing modes: narrative,
descriptive, expository
and argumentative;
Semester 2 (Content-based)
Objectives
Summary of topics
By the end of the course, the
Introduction to literature
student will be able to:
and the genres (prose,
1. Identify the various literary
drama and poetry), oral
genres;
African literature;
2. Identify the features of prose
and analyse a selected text;
The sentence: types and
3. Use punctuation marks
patterns;
appropriately and
4. Write letters using the correct Letter writing: informal,
features.
semi-formal, formal;
Comprehension;
Introduction to prose;
features, analysis of
selected texts;
Punctuation;
Active and passive
voice.
Note-taking and notemaking
YEAR 2
Semester 1 (Methodology)
Objectives
Summary of topics
By the end of the course, the
2. Curriculum studies:
student will be able to:
comparative study of
1. Do a comparative study of
the three basic
the basic curriculum
curriculum materials;
materials;
3. Theories of language
2. Apply the theories and
acquisition;
approaches studied to 4. Approaches to
teaching English as a
Second Language
second language and
Teaching;
3. Write effective lesson 5. Relationship among
notes to use in teaching
the four Language
English, design and use
Modes: listening,
appropriate TLMs for
speaking, reading
effective lesson delivery.
and writing
6. Developing listening
skills;
7. Pre-reading
skills/activities
8. Beginning reading:
reading readiness,
Semester 2 (Content)
Objectives
Summary of topics
By the end of the course, the
1. Rankscale and
student will be able to:
rankshift
1. Identify and describe types of 2. Introduction of
drama;
literature: drama
2. Describe the elements of
3. Co-ordination and
drama;
subordination
3. Demonstrate a sound
4. Writing:
knowledge in poetry;
argumentative
4. Identify the differences
essay/debate
between direct and indirect
5. Features of debate
speech;
6. Introduction to
5. Write good argumentative
literature (poetry)
essays;
7. Direct and reported
5. Identify and state the
speech
functions of clauses.
8. Writing articles
9. Comprehension
based on expository,
argumentative and
narrative texts;
10. Phrasal verbs
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methods of teaching
reading, correction
procedure;
9. Teaching reading
comprehension:
stages;
10. Teaching writing;
11. Teaching grammar at
primary and JHS;
12. Teaching spelling
and dictation;
13. Language games;
14. Lesson plan format
and features;
15. TLM preparations
11. Asking questions
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Appendix B
The NALAP Literacy Standards and Milestones for Reading
Standard One: A reader uses knowledge, skills and techniques (e.g. skimming and scanning) to read.
Components
P.1
P.2
P.3
Phonological awareness
L1,2
L1, 2
L1,2
Knowledge about
 sounds/syllables words have, apart from their meaning
L1, 2
 rhymes (e.g. ―bed‖ and ―bread‖) and similar starting sounds.
L1, 2
Decoding and Word Analysis
 Knowledge of, recognition, production and differentiation of letters from numbers and
shapes.
 Understands the relationship between spellings of words and sounds of speech, and uses
L1
this to decode unknown words.
 Uses basic elements of structural analysis (e.g. syllables, basic prefixes, suffixes, etc) to
L1 ,2
L1, 2
decode unknown words.
Vocabulary
L1, 2
L1, 2
 Knows some sight words.
 Understands level-appropriate sight words and vocabulary (e.g. words for persons, places,
things, actions; high frequency words such as ―said,‖ ―was,‖ and ―where‖).
 Uses a variety of context clues to comprehend unknown words (e.g. draws on earlier
L1
L1, 2
L1, 2
reading, reads ahead).
L1
 Uses a picture dictionary to determine word meaning.
L1 ,2
L1 ,2
Comprehension
 Uses pictures and prior knowledge to aid comprehension and predict story events and
L1 ,2
outcomes.
L1 ,2
 Uses meaning/texts clues (e.g. pictures, captions, title, cover headings, story structure, story
topic) to aid comprehension by forming mental images and making predictions about
L1 ,2
L1 ,2
content (e.g. action, events, characters‘ behaviour).
 Uses self-correction strategies (e.g. searches for cues, identifies mistakes, rereads, asks for
help).
L1
L1, 2
L1, L2
 Reads short passages and answers questions.
L1
Fluency
L 1, 2
Starts developing fluency in reading. Reads aloud familiar stories, poems and passages
with fluency and expression (e.g. rhythm, tempo, intonation)
L1, 2
L1,L2
L1, 2
L1,L2
L1
L1
79 | P a g e
Standard Two: A reader uses knowledge, skills, and
techniques of reading to understand, interpret and
appreciate a variety of literary texts.









Components
Comprehension
Knows the elements of a story
Knows the sequence of events in a
story.
Responds to stories by relating
them to his/her own experience.
Understands the literal meaning of
plays, poems and stories.
Knows the difference between fact
and fiction, real and make-believe.
Understands main characters in
stories:
basic
characters,
motivations and problems they run
into.
Understands the concept of themes
(e.g. honesty, friendship, etc.) and
main events in a story.
Responds to stories with opinions,
value judgements, inferences, and
links to his/her own experiences.
Understands and appreciates a
variety of familiar literary forms and
genres such as fairy tales, folktales,
fiction, non-fiction, legends, fables,
myths, poems, etc.
P.1
L1
L1
P.2
L1,2
Standard Three: A reader uses knowledge, skills, and
techniques of reading to understand, interpret and
appreciate a variety of informational texts (e.g.
newspapers, magazines, science and social studies
textbooks, etc.).
P.3

L1
L1
L1

L1

L1,2
L1,2
L1,2
L1,2
L1,
2
L1,
2



L1,
2

L1,
2

Components
Comprehension
Becomes
familiar
with
characteristics of informational
texts and distinguishes these
from narrative texts. Uses these
features to anticipate text content
and meaning.
Connects meaning built from text
read orally with illustrations or
diagrams in text.
Builds understanding of text read
orally, and asks and answers
questions about it.
Uses background knowledge to
understand and build new
knowledge from text.
Reads
a
variety
of
informational/expository texts with
different purposes.
Understands the main idea and
supporting details of simple
expository texts (e.g. making a
kite).
Uses reading strategies such as
summarization, questioning, and
graphic organizers before, during
and after reading to construct and
revise meaning made from text.
Relates new information to prior
knowledge and experience.
P.1
L1
P.2
L1,2
P.3
L1,2
L1,2
L1,2
L1,2
L1,2
L1,2
L1,2
L1,2
L1,2
L1
L1
L1
L1
Source: Ghana Education Service (2006). Literacy Standards and Milestones
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Appendix C
NQTs Description of a good teacher of reading
Personal traits
Confidence
Tolerance
Patience
Lively









Pedagogical content knowledge
teaching with all the steps
seeing to it that the pupils can understand
and can read as expected
involve the pupils more in the reading
use appropriate TLMs
He tries his best to do all things possible to
explain the passage to the pupils
The teacher must have special time to assist
the ones with reading difficulties.
the teacher who uses real objects and
combines with the semi real ones, and then
before the abstract ones,
You have to use different method of teaching to
teach them
motivate the children




Subject matter knowledge
the teacher who knows actually
what he is teaching, that is the
content
the teacher knows the content of
what he is coming to teach
you have to have more knowledge
in sound like you have to be more
knowledgeable about it
fluent in the language
81 | P a g e
Appendix D
Costs and Efficiency Analysis Method13
Trainee-Tutor Ratio
=
Where Nt
NT
Rearranging
=
number of trainees
=
number of tutors (lecturers)
TTR X NT
Nt =
TTR
=
Salary cost per trainee for teaching staff (Cs) is represented by
Cost per trainee
Where
=
=
=
= the sum of all tutors teaching English or Mathematics salaries
By substitution Cs
If
xNT
CS
=
is approximately equal to the Average of all the tutors teaching English (reading) or Mathematics (AvTs)
Then
Note:





Cs
=
=
TTR is calculated when we know the number of tutors teaching the subject and the number of trainees
he/she is teaching
Recurrent teaching costs per trainee will rise with average tutors‘ salaries and fall as the TTR increases
If
is minimized and TTR maximized in ways consistent with maintaining quality, the economic
concern with cost efficiency would be satisfied. However, this will depend on what is deli vered to
trainees in the TTC mathematics or English (reading) curriculum which will not only depend on salary
costs per trainee, but would need to be translated into tutors contact hours with trainees (teaching
reading or mathematics), and the work which surrounds these contact hours
What is delivered in terms of taught time (taught hours per week or periods per week) for a particular
cost, is a function of the number of trainees per tutor (TTR), the amount of teaching associated with the
teaching posts and the average teaching group size.
The formula for teaching load is
Taught hours per
week x TTR
teaching group size
13
Source: Lewin K (1999) Counting the Cost of Teacher Education: Cost and Quality Issues – MUSTER
Discussion Paper, University of Sussex, Brighton
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Appendix E
TEACHER TRAINEE QUESTIONNAIRE
Part 1 Background
1. Institution
2. Gender
Female
Male
3. Your age
4. Your highest academic qualifications at start of
training
5. Years of teaching experience at start of training
6. What in-service training programmes relevant to teaching reading and mathematics in the lower primary have
you attended in the last three years? (2007-2010) If none tick this box
Programme
7. Did you teach a lower primary class (up to grade 3) before starting your training?
How long it lasted
Yes
8. How would you describe your ability to teach lower primary mathematics?
Very high
high
low
very low
9. How would you describe your confidence to teach lower primary mathematics?
Very high
high
low
very low
10. How would you describe your ability to teach reading in lower primary
Very high
high
Low
very low
11. How would you describe your confidence to teach reading in lower primary?
Very high
high
low
very low
For each of the statements under questions 12-20 tick the box that best describes your response
83 | P a g e
No
12. The best way to help children in lower primary understand basic concepts in maths is
to:
(a) Show them lots of worked examples
Strongly
Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly
Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly
disagree
(b) Teach them to remember important steps in solving maths problems
(c) Make them practice lots of worked examples
(d) Use concrete and practical examples to teach
13. What makes a good teacher of lower primary school mathematics?
Strongly
disagree
(a) Being good at mathematics
(b) Being able to show maths in everyday situations
(c) Teaching children to remember important mathematical facts
(d) Showing children lots of worked examples
(e) Being able to explain maths topics using simple materials
14. The best way to help children in lower primary class to read is to:
Strongly
Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly
disagree
Strongly
Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly
disagree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly
disagree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly
disagree
(a) Look at pictures and read whole words or sentences
(b) Repeat words after the teacher has said them out loud
(c) Teach them to make letter sounds or syllables in the words.
(d) Guide pupils to recognize words and sentences in songs, poems or stories
15. What makes a good teacher in lower primary reading?
(a) Being a good reader in the language.
(b) Telling lots of stories and linking them to passages.
(c) Getting children to memorize words and sentences.
(d) Giving a number of techniques to make them understand the meaning of words
(e) Reading aloud in the classroom
16. The most important quality of a primary school teacher is
(a) Being caring to children
(b) Being knowledgeable in the subject you teach
Strongly Agree
(c) Keeping good class discipline
(d) Using play activities and games in teaching
17.
I would much prefer to be training for another career than train to be a teacher
Strongly
Agree
84 | P a g e
Agree
18.
Strongl
y Agree
Disagree
Strongl
y
disagre
e
I would prefer teaching in upper primary or JHS than lower primary
19. Which of the following primary maths topics would you find difficult or easy to teach at the lower primary level?
Very
Difficult Easy Very
Not suitable
Difficult
Easy for lower
Topic
primary
Adding two or three digit numbers involving renaming (‗carrying‘)
Comparing fractions
Division of numbers
Estimating and Measuring of Length, Volume and Weight
Multiplication of numbers (two digits by one digit whole numbers)
Place value (0 to 100) i.e. Hundreds, tens, ones (units) etc
Recognising fractions
Solving word problems
Subtraction from two or three-digit numbers involving regrouping (‗borrowing‘)
Pre-number work and counting
20. Which of the following reading skills would you find difficult or easy to teach in the first three years of primary school?
Very
Difficult Easy Very
Not suitable
Difficult
Easy for lower
primary
Finding the meaning of words in context
Joining sounds to make syllables
Using pictures and actions to predict the meaning of a passage
Punctuation and capital letters
Reading aloud fluently with meaning
Recognizing different parts/ syllables of a word
Teaching letter sounds
Joining different parts of a story to make it meaningful
Understanding the overall meaning of a story, poem or other piece of writing.
85 | P a g e
Part 2 Teaching Reading
21. For which language/s has your training prepared you to teach reading?
22. Which language are you most confident about teaching reading in?
23. Why?
24. The language which I expect to teach reading in is?
_____________________________________________
***** FROM HERE ONWARDS ALL QUESTIONS ABOUT TEACHING READING REFER TO READING IN THE
LANGUAGE YOU WROTE DOWN IN QUESTION 24.
25. Here are some activities that you might use in teaching reading.
For each item tick one of the boxes to show when you think it best to introduce the activity.
Right at the
Never - not a
start
A little later
Much later
useful activity
(a) Look at and talk about pictures of familiar objects
(b) Name objects in the classroom
(c) Read and recite whole words from the board
(d) Recite letter sounds
(e) Recite the letters of the alphabet
(f) Teach greetings and classroom routines
(g) Teach simple rhymes and songs
(h) Use actions to tell stories about familiar situations
(i) Read stories with pictures to the children
26. You are planning how to teach your class early reading. Which one approach would you use? Tick
one
(a) Write whole familiar words on the board next to pictures and ask children to repeat many times after you
(b) Read short stories and ask the children to read short sentences back to you
(c) Show examples of the different sounds that letters make at the beginning, middle and end of words
(d) Combine sounds to make syllables that can make up simple words
27. You want to increase learners' reading vocabulary. You choose to focus on parts of the body.
Put these activities into an order which best develops their reading in a lesson or series of lessons.
First
Second
Third
(a) Draw a diagram of a person, label the parts of the body and ask the
children to write their own sentences.
(b) Give groups of 6 children cards with words such as ‗arm‘ or ‗ear‘, ask
them to draw the parts of the body and to put them into sentences
(c) Point to the parts of the body on a real child and write the words on the
board in a sentence such as 'I have two hands'
(d) Write a list of words on the board next to a picture of the human body
and ask the child to read the words aloud together and individually
Fourth
86 | P a g e
28. You want to encourage your learners to recognise letters in written words. Which one is the best way
of doing this? Tick one
(a) Show pictures of familiar objects with a label underneath
(b) Have the children's names clearly written out
(c) Pin up advertisements or newspaper articles
(d) Label familiar objects such as a chair or board
29.
One child is having difficulty in reading simple words such as 'cat' or 'car'. Which one of these
alternatives might best help the child? Tick one
(a) Ask the child to see you after school and you write down the words for them to practice reading aloud
(b) Show pictures of 'cats' and 'cars' and explain the difference
(c) Drill the children in the appropriate end sounds
(d) For one week at the beginning of each lesson you go over the letter sounds again for the whole class to revise
30. You plan to teach children to read with understanding stories of five to six lines from the board.
Tick TWO STRATEGIES that seem best
(a) Explain to the class what is happening as you teach
(b) Ask the whole class to recite the story and ask one or two to tell you what happens in the story
(c) Draw pictures in a story sequence to show what is happening
(d) The children read the story to themselves and then ask each other questions and give answers on the story
(e) The children read the story to themselves and answer questions written on the board
31.
You decide your learners are ready to learn the sounds of the vowels first. Give TWO ACTIVITIES
you would use to teach them
Part 3 Teaching Early Mathematics
32. You are planning a lesson to help children in lower primary class understand the idea of number.
Which one of the following strategies would you choose as a focus of your plan? Tick one.
(a) Repeat a string of numbers (e.g. 1, 2, 3 etc.) in natural order
(b) Match equal number of objects, for example, four oranges to four cups
(c) Write numbers 1 to 10 and ask children to repeat counting from 1 to 10
(d) Organise children to match objects in two groups to find which group has more or less
33. Four teachers decide to use four different teaching and learning activities to teach addition sums up
to 9. For example, 2+3 =5; 2+7=9 etc. Which of these approaches do you think is useful or not
useful?
87 | P a g e
Useful
Not useful
(a) Teach counting from 1 to 9 and show worked examples of adding numbers that make up 9
(b) Use a story problem approach.
(c) Use groupings of numbers and join up groups to make up a total of 9.
(d) Teach them to count from 1 to 9 and put sums on the board and ask them to find the answers
34. Which of the following approaches would you use to help children do the subtraction: 52-25?
Useful
Not useful
a) Explain that it is not possible to subtract a bigger number from a smaller number so you break
one ten to get ten ones and add to two ones to give 12 before subtraction
(b) Explain that if you do not have enough to subtract, you can go to a friend who has more and
borrow 10 and then you can subtract
(c) Use objects to show conversion into tens and units and then demonstrate subtraction by
regrouping
52
(d) Line up 52 objects and take away 25 of them.
(e) Write the subtraction vertically on the board and do the subtraction ie.
25
35. You want to introduce simple multiplication to lower primary pupils. Put these activities into an
order which best develops their understanding in a lesson or series of lessons.
First
Second Third
(a) Do simple word problems involving multiplication
(b) Guide them to complete multiplication sentences up to a product of 18 (eg. 3×2=, 6×3=
)
(c) Teach them that changing the order of multiplication does not change the product for
example: 2x4 is the same as 4x2
(d) Guide them to write multiplication sentences
36.
A child in your lower primary class understands that '5' is greater than '3', but then still thinks '5'
in the number '35' is bigger than the '3'. Which TWO STEPS would you recommend to resolve this
problem?
(a) Explain that the '3' is actually three tens so is not the same as the unit '3'
(b) Use concrete materials to teach them place value and the idea of tens and units
(c) Exchange one of three tens for ten units which makes the '3' in 35 bigger than '5' units
(d) Tell the child that the '3' in '35' is actually 30 and therefore clearly greater than '5'
37.
(a) 3/4 is bigger
Which is the bigger fraction: 3/4 or 3/5?
(b) 3/5 is bigger
Please, explain
88 | P a g e
Fourth
38. Show some drawings that you could put on the board to explain the meaning of the multiplication 6
x 4.
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