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International Journal of English and Literature (IJEL) ISSN 2249-6912 Vol. 2 Issue 4 Dec - 2012 45-58 TJPRC Pvt.

. Ltd.,

READING COMPREHENSION INTERVENTION FOR STUDENTS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENT: A COMPARISON OF THREE APPROACHES
1 1

ONUIGBO, LIZIANA N. & 2EZE, UCHE N.

Department of Education Foundations, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, India


2

Institute of Education, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, India

ABSTRACT
This study examined the effects of elaborative rehearsal and self-questioning strategies on reading comprehension of students with visual impairment. Three null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The study adopted a randomized pretest posttest control group design. Nineteen JSS class III students with visual impairment in two secondary schools in Nigeria participated in the study. National Junior Secondary School Test of Comprehension, Elaborative Rehearsal Skill Acquisition Scale and Self-Questioning Skill Acquisition Scale were used for data collection. Analysis of Covariance and Scheffe test were used to analyze the data collected. The findings show that instructing students with visual impairment in elaborative rehearsal and self-questioning strategies results in better achievement in reading comprehension than reading and re reading strategy. Gender has no significant influence on reading comprehension achievement of the students with visual impairment. It was recommended that teachers should take time to expose students with visual impairment to well-planned elaborative rehearsal and self questioning strategies instruction as that can help enhance their higher order operations in reading.

KEY WORDS: Braille, Elaborative Rehearsal, Reading, Reading Comprehension, Self-Questioning, Strategies, Visual
Impairment

INTRODUCTION
Reading is a complex language skill which permeates and transcends all spheres of study and serves various purposes for different people. Some read for pleasure, some to have access to information for personal development and some for examinations. Being able to read is quite important for every learner as it serves as a bedrock for any academic achievement. Reading takes place when one decodes the messages represented by symbols on paper or on a hard surface. The decoding is usually done with the aim of achieving some meaning and comprehension. However, despite its importance, many students do not possess the capacity and proficiency to read for comprehension (Amao, 2005). In every reading process, the reader tries to understand the meaning of symbolic representations and how these representations form words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs which, when put together, will communicate a unique message (Blake, 2003). It is the ability to understand the unique message by the reader that accounts for comprehension. Reading comprehension according to Anyachonkeya and Anyachonkeya (2006) is the process of utilizing textual elements and human experiences together to achieve understanding of the message which the writer intends in a text. Reading comprehension therefore, has to do with a clear understanding of the theme and meaning of a text and it is the primary goal of every reading programme both for the sighted and those with visual impairment, Visual impairment is an impairment in vision that adversely affects a childs educational performance even with correction. The term includes both low vision and blindness. Children with low vision have limitations in seeing distant

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objects. Though they see some near objects, their vision is too minimal that they cannot benefit maximally in their classroom learning without some specialized methods, materials and specialized attention. They learn primarily through the sense of vision though they may supplement their learning using the tactile and auditory senses. The totally blind do not receive useful information through the sense of vision even after receiving all optical corrective measures (Heward, 2009). They learn to read using Braille or aural methods. Braille according to Ayoku (2006) is a dot system of communication, which consists of six dots arranged in two columns and three rows called the Braille cell. Braille is complex to manipulate since a dot or more have multiple meanings depending on the placement of the dots. Moreover, because all the letters of the alphabets are formed from the basic six-dot cell of the Braille, there are so many word contractions which may give rise to fatigue and problems in reading comprehension especially where extensive reading is required. Braille reading therefore, makes more demand on the readers since they would not just perform the thinking skills required for effective reading and comprehension, but would use synthetic approach in which they have to recognize and remember individual characters in a series, and then integrate them to read the whole word in order to make a perceptual unit (Heinze, 1986). It places the readers at a disadvantage especially as they have to touch, consider the shape of the dots to know the letter or the word it represents, and remember all in order to make meaning from what is read (Blake, 2003). Braille reading which is slow makes the rate of information processing equally slow (Ayoku, 2006). By the time the reader gets to the end of the text, he/she may have forgotten the initial information. This could also be the reason why Blackorby, Chorost, Garza and Guzman (2003) and Litterick (2006) experience significant problems in reading comprehension. Efforts have been made to overcome the reading challenges of students with visual impairment through listening to tape recorded materials which are considered a faster means of reading. However, it has its peculiar challenges. Listening to tapes is a passive activity and the students can easily sleep off or lose attention as they seem not to be actively involved while reading. Also, one of the common strategies adopted by students with visual impairment for reading comprehension is reading and rereading strategy. Through this strategy, they read and re read a passage and sometimes read the questions from the passage before reading. It is commonly utilized by students in order to enhance memory. This however, does not allow for deeper cognitive processing required for effective reading comprehension (Cain, 2004). Currently, there has been a paradigm shift of emphasis from learners as passive receivers of information to learners as active participants in the teaching and learning process. Engaging learners actively in the learning process ensures that they assume ownership of the process and take full responsibility for their learning. This gave rise to the researches on cognitive processing on how information is stored and retrieved and intervention studies in which students are taught cognitive strategies they can adopt while reading (Hunt and Beglar, 2005). Ajideh, (2003) suggested that students with visual impairment should be aware of the cognitive strategies used to comprehend and organize the ideas presented in texts. They need strategies that will enable them to actively process information, create relationships among ideas and connect new information to prior knowledge. This view is highly influenced by the information processing theory. THEORETICAL BASIS Information processing theory is crucial as a framework for effective reading comprehension since reading comprehension involves reception and processing of information presented. The way information is learnt and the way it is processed will affect storage and retrieval across situations and settings (Woolfolk, 2006). The information processing pointed out that many students with visual impairment

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theory provides a necessary springboard for effective focus on basic decoding strategies in reading comprehension. Another implication of information processing theory for reading comprehension according to Collings (2004) is the process of inference. Information processing theory requires that for information to become part of the person's world of knowledge, it has to be actively processed by means of creating inferences. Inferences come from the activation and elaboration of background knowledge. Based on the theory, any meaningful storage of information in the long term memory would require the reader to be genuinely interested in the text and consciously activate the body of knowledge in the short term memory through elaboration in order to transfer it to the long term memory. (Brunnon, 2004). Learning strategies which require students to actively elaborate, organize, rehearse and ask questions on the materials presented affect the cognitive processing of information during encoding and decoding (Weinstein and

Mayer,1986). These strategies facilitate the acquisition, manipulation, integration, storage and retrieval of information across situations and settings. They influence encoding, acquisition, retention and transfer of knowledge. For this study, the learning strategies of interest are the elaborative rehearsal and self- questioning strategies.

ELABORATIVE REHEARSAL STRATEGY


Elaborative rehearsal is a strategy that enables the learners to expand, create connect and add new meaning to an information or learning task based on the learners' existing body of knowledge (Ricker, 2006). It involves talking out or writing out information, defining or analyzing a key word or phrase and going over a reading task through a variety of modes of repetition such as explaining the new material to someone else, giving a new example, comparing and contrasting the new material with other materials and looking for relationships between such ideas (Weinstein and Mayer, 1986). Writing, summarizing, and choosing personal examples, are all forms of elaborative rehearsal. These are all activities that require processing and which help students develop and strengthen their cognitive structures. This strategy could be applied during and after-reading. Research investigations on the efficacy of elaborative rehearsal and self questioning strategies on the reading comprehension of students with visual impairment are sparse. Weinstein (1982) investigated whether students taught using elaborative strategies would have an improvement in

understanding and general school performance. The stimulus materials used during instruction were drawn from Science, History, English, Foreign languages and vocational education. The students were randomly assigned to one of 3 groups: training, control or post test only. The

training group were trained on how to apply elaborative strategies on learning tasks including paired associate learning tasks, free recall learning tasks and reading comprehension. They were exposed to 19 learning tasks, in a series of five one- hour sessions. The control group was provided with the same tasks which they had to learn but there was no training in the use of elaborative strategies. The posttest only group was not provided with the stimulus materials though they participated in the post testing sessions. Immediate posttest and delayed posttest were administered to all the groups. Results from the immediate posttest revealed that the performance of the training group was significantly better than that of the control and the posttest only group. Results from the delayed posttest also showed a significant difference in the reading comprehension of those in the training group who had superior performance than those in the control. In their study, Harris and Qualls (2000) tested whether elaborative rehearsal strategy distinguished 53 healthy adults on, their performance on reading comprehension and verbal working memory tasks. The result indicate that younger adults who used elaborative rehearsal had superior working memory measures. Older adults who used elaborative rehearsal had superior reading comprehension measures suggesting that elaborative rehearsal enhances function in verbal working memory and reading comprehension tasks. Wood and Hewitt (1993) conducted a study on the ability of high achievers

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from grades 5 and 6 to learn 54 animal facts. The learners were assigned to three experimental groups: elaborative rehearsal strategy, spontaneous strategy and repetition control. At the end, high achievers in the elaborative rehearsal and spontaneous strategy outperformed their peers in the repetition control. The result suggests that instruction using this strategy could be beneficial to students who do not have this strategy.

SELF QUESTIONING STRATEGY


Self-questioning strategy is another self-regulated strategy that enables the learner to actively engage in a learning process. Self- questioning is an active reading process that enables the learner to raise questions before reading, during reading and after reading a text material. It enhances students understanding and recall of information in the passage. The questions posed are based on clues that are found in the text and are generated to spark curiosity and focus the reader's attention on exploring, establishing and understanding the connections of ideas in a text. As the students use this strategy they generate, think about, predict, investigate and answer questions that satisfy their curiosity about what they read (Lenz, 2001). When they construct their own questions using why, when, which, how, who, where or ask themselves questions relating to list, calculate, define, show, describe, classify, discuss and compare, they are more likely to engage in critical thinking and in the process learn more than they would have done if the questions are teacher-initiated (Wong, 2011). Self questioning places the responsibility for learning on the students, increases their attention and allows them to take corrective actions. It may also result in reduced feeling of frustration and failure. The self questioning strategy guides them to really think about what they are reading and connect effectively with the text material (Eze, 2005). Studies on self-questioning show that when students receive adequate training in the use of self-questioning strategy, it results in improved comprehension (Kansas, 2001; Taylor, Albert & Walker, 2002; Miciano, 2002, Rosenshine, Meister and Chapman in IOWA content Network Review (2003)). However, the studies by Cuccia (1987); Sandler (1989) showed that self-questioning did not have a significant effect on reading performance. Little research seems to have been done to determine the effectiveness of elaborative rehearsal, self-questioning and the conventional reading strategy of reading and rereading on reading comprehension using students with visual impairment. This study , therefore explores the effectiveness of the three different forms of interventions among students with complete visual loss. Another area that has been of interest to researchers is the issue of gender differences on reading achievement of students. While some research studies showed evidence of girls' superiority over boys in reading (Coley, 2001; Newkirk, 2002), others show that gender has no direct effect on reading comprehension (Eze, 2006; Uroko, 2011). (Frempong and Archampong, 2006), reported that gender is a significant factor in reading comprehension achievement. Their results favored females as scoring higher on tests of reading comprehension than males. Following these inconsistencies, this research seeks to make significant contribution by providing data that may help to resolve the controversy on the issue of gender as it affects reading achievement especially for students with visual impairment. Also, how gender interacts with the learning strategies to affect reading comprehension of students with visual impairment was explored. Elaborative rehearsal and self-questioning strategies have been shown to enhanced reading comprehension among sighted students (Wong, 1985; Miciano, 2002). However, there seems to be dearth of evidence on the effect of the three forms of learning strategies on reading comprehension achievement among students with visual impairment. There is therefore, the need to ascertain if instruction in elaborative rehearsal and self-questioning strategies would improve the reading comprehension achievement of students with visual impairment. One research question and three hypotheses were formulated to guide the study.

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RESEARCH QUESTION
1. To what extent do students with visual impairment exposed to elaborative rehearsal and self-questioning strategies acquire the skills required in using the strategies?

HYPOTHESES
The following null hypotheses were postulated and tested at .05 levels of significance 1. There is no significant difference in the mean reading comprehension achievement scores of students with visual impairment who were exposed to the elaborative rehearsal, self-questioning and conventional reading strategies (reading and rereading). 2. Gender has no significant influence in the reading comprehension achievement of students with visual impairment as measured by their mean scores in Test of Comprehension (TOC) 3. There is no significant interaction effect of gender and the learning strategies on the reading comprehension achievement of students with visual impairment as measured by their mean scores on Test of Comprehension (TOC)

METHOD
This is a randomized pretest- posttest control group design study with two experimental groups receiving treatment and a control group that adopted conventional reading strategy (reading and rereading). According to Fraenkel and Wallen (2003), this design is particularly desirable if the sample size is small.

PARTICIPANTS
Nineteen students with visual impairment in junior secondary class three in the two junior secondary schools in Enugu State, Nigeria that have facilities for inclusion of the visually impaired were used for the study. Nine (47.4%) of the students are females while ten (52.6%) are males. The age of the participants range from 15 to 19 years. The two schools which are about six kilometers away from each other serve both students with visual impairment and those who are sighted. The entire population was used as the sample. Parental permission were solicited and obtained for the students to participate in the study. The students also gave their consent to participate in the study. In composing the treatment and control groups, stratified random sampling technique was used to ensure that the different genders are represented in the three groups. Experimental group 1 included 3 males and 3 females, experimental group 2 included 3 males and 3 females, and control group included 4 males and 3 females. Those in experimental group 1 received instructions in elaborative rehearsal, those in experimental group 2 received instructions in self- questioning while group three which is the control group used conventional reading and rereading strategy. Table 1: Descriptive Statistics of Participants Characteristics (N=19) Variables Age Gender male female Groups Elaborative rehearsal Self Questioning Conventional (reading and rereading) Participants % 15-19 9 (47.4%) 10 (52.6%) 6 (31.6%) 6 (31.6%) 7 (36.8%)

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INSTRUMENT FOR THE STUDY


The following instruments were used for this study. They are (1) Test of Comprehension (TOC): The Test is a multiple choice test adopted from the National Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination which is conducted by the National Examination Council (NECO). It consist of four comprehension passages with 30 multiple choice questions. The comprehension passages were drawn from the curriculum for Junior Secondary class three in Christian Religious Studies, Integrated Science and the Social Studies as designed by the Nigerian Education Research and Development Council. It served both as pretest and posttest. The National Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination was adopted because it is considered as a standardized test developed National Examination Council (NECO).

ELABORATIVE REHEARSAL SKILL ACQUISITION SCALE


The second instrument was the Elaborative Rehearsal skill Acquisition Scale. (See Appendix VII). It was a four point rating scale meant to determine the student's possession of the skills involved in the use of the strategy before and after instruction. The scale ranges from Strongly Agree (SA) (4), Agree (A) (3), Disagree (D) (2), to Strongly Disagree (SD) (1). The items were developed from information acquired through review of relevant literature. The instrument was face validated by two Professors in Educational Psychology and Measurement and Evaluation. Their comments and suggestions were used in the modification of the instruments. It was further trial-tested on 11 students with visual impairment in Anambra State, Nigeria and the result obtained was used in determining the internal consistency reliability estimate of the instrument. A test of internal consistency was conducted using Cronbach Alpha method. An internal consistency reliability estimate of .69 was obtained. To test for the stability, a test retest was calculated using Pearson Moment Correlation Coefficient. An estimate of. 76 was obtained.

SELF-QUESTIONING SKILL ACQUISITION SCALE


The Self Questioning Skill Acquisition Scale was used to ascertain the student's knowledge of the skills involved in the use of self-questioning strategy. The instrument had nine researcher generated items based on review of literature. It was structured on a 4 point rating scale of Strongly Agree (SA) (4), Agree (A) (3), Disagree (D) (2), and Strongly Disagree (SD) (1). The instrument was face validated by two Professors in Educational Psychology and Measurement and Evaluation. Their comments and suggestions were used in the modification of the instrument. It was further trial tested in Anambra State, Nigeria and the result was used in determining the reliability of the instrument. A test of internal consistency was conducted using Cronbach Alpha. An internal consistency reliability estimate of .81 was obtained. To test for the stability of the questionnaire over time, a test retest analyses was done using Pearson Moment Correlation Coefficient. An estimate of .89 was obtained.

DEVELOPMENT OF INTERVENTION PROGRAMMES


Two instructional programmes and a conventional reading programme were used for the study. These include: Elaborative Rehearsal Strategy Instructional Programme (ERSIP) , Self-Questioning Strategy Instructional Programme (SQIP) and the Conventional Reading Strategy (reading and rereading) programme. These instructional programmes were developed by the researcher with the help of specialists in Special Education and Educational Psychology. The purpose of the programme is to guide in the instruction of the subjects in effective use of elaborative rehearsal and self questioning strategies for comprehension of texts. To develop these programmes, the researcher identified and stated the specific objectives to be achieved, the activities of the instructor and the subjects and the evaluation techniques to be utilized. The researcher also developed a conventional reading strategy programme for the control group. The programmes were

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designed to last for 6 weeks of one hour per session, two times a week. The programmes were face validated by two experts in Special Education and Educational Psychology. They were asked to critical review each of the programmes and their comments and suggestions were used in revising the programmes. The face validated programmes were trial tested by the researcher with the help of research assistants. The instructional programmes were used in teaching three different groups of JSS III visually impaired students in Anambra State in the use of elaborative rehearsal, self-questioning and reading and reading strategies respectively. The aim was to ensure that the programmes were adequate in achieving the objectives of the study and to ensure that the programmes were systematic, comprehensive and coherent. The researcher trained the regular English language classroom teachers in the use of Elaborative Rehearsal

Strategy Instructional Programme, the Self-Questioning Strategy Instructional Programme and the Conventional Reading and Rereading Strategy Instructional Programme. The teachers were given copies of the instructional programmes to study while the researcher scheduled days and times to meet with them . On such days, the researcher discussed the programme extensively with them. The steps involved in using each strategy were stressed and how to implement the programme in independent reading comprehension also emphasized. In the last three contacts, the research assistants were asked to demonstrate the application of each of the strategies until they showed good mastery of the strategies. The regular English teachers were chosen because they can read Braille comfortably.

INTERVENTION PROCEDURE
Prior to the commencement of treatment, the subjects were randomly assigned to experimental and control conditions and the Test of Comprehension was administered to all the students in the two experimental groups and the control group by the class teachers during their English lesson. The Test of Comprehension was marked using the appropriate Junior WAEC marking scheme. The Elaborative Rehearsal Strategy Skill Acquisition Rating Scale was administered to subjects in experimental group I that received instruction in elaborative rehearsal strategy and the Selfquestioning Strategy Skill Acquisition Rating Scale administered to subjects in experimental group II that received instruction in self-questioning strategy. Thereafter, the experimental group 1 and group II were instructed in the use of elaborative rehearsal and self-questioning strategies respectively. The essence of the instruction was to ascertain if the strategies would help the students in the experimental groups comprehend texts and solve their problems more effectively. The Conventional Reading Strategy was used in teaching reading to subjects in the control group. All treatment conditions took place in the schools resource room for students with visual impairment. The treatment lasted for a period of six

weeks after which the Elaborative Rehearsal Strategy Skill Acquisition Rating Scale was re-administered to students in experimental group 1 and Self-questioning Strategy Skill Acquisition Rating Scale to students in experimental group II. This was done one week after treatment to determine how well they have acquired the skills in the use of the strategies. The reshuffled Test of Comprehension was administered to the two treatment groups and the control group and the instruments used for the study were all put in Braille form.

METHOD OF DATA ANALYSIS


The data generated for the study were analysed using mean and standard deviations for answering the research questions. Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) statistics was used to test the hypotheses at p<.05 level of significance. ANCOV A was used to determine if there is a significant difference in the mean score of the groups. A posthoc multiple comparison analysis using scheffe test was conducted to determine the direction of the significant differences observed in the study.

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RESULTS
Research Question One To what extent do the students exposed to elaborative rehearsal and self-questioning strategies possess the skills required in using the strategies? Table 2: Visually Impaired Students' Pre-Test and Post-Test Mean Scores and Standard Deviation on Strategy Skill Acquisition Strategies of Learning Self Questioning Mean N Std. Deviation Elaborative Strategy Mean N Std. Deviation Total Mean N Std. Deviation Pretest 21.16 6 1.47 23.33 6 2.80 22.25 12 2.41 Posttest 31.00 6 1.78 34.66 6 2.25 32.83 12 2.72 Mean Gain Score 8.83

11.33

10.58

Table 2 above shows that the visually impaired students exposed to self-questioning strategy skills had a pretest mean score of 21.16 and standard deviation of 1.47 in self-questioning skill acquisition while the posttest mean score was 31.00 with a standard deviation of 1.78. The mean gain score between the pretest and the posttest was 8.83. For elaborative rehearsal, the pretest mean score on the strategy skill possession was 23.33 with a standard deviation of 2.80 while the posttest mean score was 34.66 with a standard deviation of 2.25. They had a mean gain score of 11.33. The standard deviation of 1.47 for pretest and 1.78 for posttest scores of subjects in the self-questioning strategy group was small and as such the scores are less spread out from the mean. The standard deviation of 2.80 for pretest and 2.25 for posttest scores of subjects in the elaborative rehearsal strategy group could be said to be small indicating that the variation of the scores from the mean was not much. The mean gain scores of 11.33 and 8.83 for the elaborative rehearsal and self-questioning strategy groups as seen on Table 2 suggest that both groups that received strategy instruction to a reasonable extent acquired the skills required in using the strategies even though the elaborative rehearsal group seems to have acquired more skills.

HYPOTHESIS
Ho1: There is no significant difference in the mean reading comprehension achievement scores of the students with visual impairment who were exposed to elaborative rehearsal, self-questioning and conventional reading strategies Table 3: Summary of the 2-Way Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) on the Students' Post-test Scores on Test of Comprehension (TOC) Source Sum of Sequence Df Mean Square 6 1 1 2 1 2 12 19 18 41.659 121.194 13.619 104.096 1.608 2.279 6.337 F 6.574 19.124 2.149 16.426 .254 .360 Significance F. .003 .001 .168 .000 .624 .705 Decision at 0.05 level

Corrected Model 249.9533 Intercept 121.194 Pretest 13.619 Experiment 208.192 Gender 1.608 Experiment* gender 4.559 Error 76.047 Total 4050.000 Corrected Total 326.000 R Squared =.767 (Adjusted R Squared =.650)

*S *NS *NS

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'*S = Significant atO.05 level

*NS = Not Significant at 0.05 level

Result shown in Table 3 above indicates that treatment as a main factor has significant effect on student's achievement in reading comprehension, F(2,12) =16.43, p=000. This is because the F-value of 16.43 in respect of treatment as main effect is shown to be significant at .000 levels. This therefore, shows that at 0.05 levels, the F-value of 16.43 is significant. The adjusted R Squared value of .650 also suggest that 65% of the change observed on the reading comprehension achievement could be attributed to treatment effects. The result imply that instruction in the learning strategies improved the reading comprehension achievement of the students with visual impairment significantly. Hence, the null hypothesis of no significant difference in the mean reading comprehension achievement scores of the students with visual impairment who were exposed to elaborative rehearsal, self-questioning and conventional reading strategies is, therefore rejected. To ascertain which of the treatments caused the significant difference, a posthoc analysis using Scheffe Test was conducted and the result is presented below. Table 4: Results of Scheffe Test for Post-test on Test of Comprehension Achievement Scores of the treatment and Control Groups (1) experimental groups (J) experimental groups Self-questioning Strategy Elaborative Strategy Conventional Elaborative Conventional Self-Questioning Conventional Self-Questioning Elaborative Strategy *The mean difference is significant at the .05 level Results in Table 4 show that there is no significant difference in the mean reading comprehension achievement scores of those in experimental group one (elaborative rehearsal strategy) and experimental group two (self-questioning strategy). This is indicated by the mean difference of -1.16 which is significant at .736 and therefore, not significant at 0.05 levels. The Table also shows that there is a significant difference in the mean reading comprehension achievement scores of students with visual impairment in the self-questioning strategy and conventional strategy groups. This is indicated by the mean difference of 6.43 which is significant at .001 and therefore, significant at 0.05 levels. The data on the Table further shows there was a significant difference in the mean reading achievement scores of the students exposed to elaborative rehearsal strategy and those exposed to conventional strategy. This is shown by the mean difference of 7.59 which is significant at .000 and therefore, significant at 0.05 levels. The data on this Table implies that both the elaborative rehearsal and self-questioning strategies significantly facilitate reading comprehension among students with visual impairment more than the conventional reading and rereading strategy. HO2: Gender is not a significant factor in the reading comprehension achievement of the students with visual impairment as measured by their mean scores in Test of Comprehension (TOC). Results presented in Table 3 show that the difference in the mean reading achievement scores of the male and female students with visual impairment in Test of Comprehension (TOC) is not significant, F (1, 12) = .254, p =.624. This is because the F-value of .254 in respect of gender as main effect is shown to be significant at .624. This indicates that at 0.05 levels, the F-value of .254 is not significant. The null hypothesis of no significant influence of gender on reading comprehension of the students with visual impairment Mean Difference (I-J) -1.16 6.43* 1.16 7.59* -6.43* -7.59* Std. Error -1.47583 1.42215 1.47583 1.42215 1.42215 1.42215 Sig. .736 001 .736 .000 .001 .000

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was not rejected. This shows that neither the male nor the female students with visual impairment made a significantly better achievement than the other in the Test of Comprehension. Gender was therefore, not a significant factor on the reading achievements attained by students with visual impairment. H03: There is no significant interaction effect of gender and the strategies on the reading comprehension of students with visual impairment as measured by their mean scores in the Test of Comprehension. The interaction effect of gender and the strategies on the reading comprehension achievement of students with visual impairment as measured by their mean scores in Test of Comprehension was not significant F (1, 2)= .360, p =.705. As shown in Table 3, the observed F-value of .360 in respect of interaction between gender and treatment is significant at .705. This indicates that at 0.05 levels, the F-value of .360 is not significant. The null hypothesis of no significant interaction of gender and the learning strategies on reading comprehension achievement of the students with visual impairment is, therefore not rejected. The interaction of gender and the strategies on the reading comprehension of students with visual impairment is further illustrated graphically in Fig 1.

Fig. 1: Treatment and Gender Interaction on the Reading Comprehension of Students with Visual Impairment From figure 1 above, it can be seen that male and female students in the conventional group scored below 10.00 with the females scoring higher whereas the males and females in the elaborative rehearsal group scored between 16.00 and 18.00 with males scoring higher. Also males and females in self-questioning group, scored between 14.00 and 18.00

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with the males scoring above 16 and females below 16. There appears to be a difference between the performance of male and female students in favour of males. Figure 1 seems to suggest an interaction effect but the hypothesis tested on interaction of gender and treatment shows that the interaction was not significant.

DISCUSSIONS
The research results showed that elaborative rehearsal and self questioning strategies significantly enhanced the reading comprehension achievement of students with visual impairment when compared with the conventional reading and rereading strategy. This finding supports similar research findings by Harris & Qualls (2000) and Wong (2011). The studies found that elaborative rehearsal and self questioning strategies improved reading comprehension of learners more than the conventional reading and rereading strategy. Kansas (2001) and Taylor et al (2002) observed that if students are given adequate training in self questioning strategy solely or in combination with other strategies the result will comfirm improved reading comprehension. Literature evidence has shown that when students use such strategies as elaborative rehearsal and self questioning, they are likely to think more as they expand and connect the new knowledge to already existing one, predict questions and answer them .In the process, they learn more than they would have done if they just read and reread. It has also been suggested that learning strategies such as self questioning and elaborative rehearsal strategies can enhance the efficiency with which learners approach learning tasks, as well as the ability to develop a product, retain essential information or perform a skill (Kansas, 2001; Taylor, Albert & Walker, 2002). The ability of the students with visual impairment to use the strategies could have facilitated their reading comprehension. According to Lenz (2001), this is especially effective when the instructor orients students on key

concepts, describes the purpose of the strategy, models the strategy, provides opportunity for guided and controls practice of the strategy with detailed feedback and gradually move the learner from dependent to independent practice of the strategy. Effective application of these strategies in learning ensures judicious expenditure of efforts and makes learning essentially student centred as they are actively involved at every stage in the learning process. The application of the strategies helps to focus the attention of the students with visual impairment as they have to decide what to do at each stage of learning. As a consequence, the responsibility of learning is placed directly on the students. As they develop competence in the application of the self-questioning and elaborative rehearsal strategies, the consequence could have been the development of the confidence to direct their own learning and the self-efficacy belief to assume responsibility for the act of learning (Eze, 2006). The students with visual impairment who are usually slow at Braille reading find it difficult to get a meaningful unit of text into their working memory in order to interpret it especially when the text is long. These learning strategies may have improved their reading comprehension task because as they participate actively in encoding, thinking, predicting, analyzing, asking questions and processing the information, they activate their already existing schema. In this way, they get involved in deep information processing and the information is not only retained in the working memory but also transferred to the long term memory. Results on Table 2 show that gender as a factor in the study did not significantly influence the achievement of students visual impairment in reading comprehension. This implies that both genders benefited from the learning strategies instruction as there was no significant difference in the reading comprehension achievement of male and female students with visual impairment. Being a male or female student does not therefore, influence reading comprehension achievement of students if they use appropriate strategies that would make for a deep level processing of the information. The findings support the results of previous studies conducted by Eze (2006) and

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Uroko (2011) which indicate that gender is not a significant moderating factor in the reading comprehension achievement of male and female students when exposed to training in the use of appropriate learning strategies. The result of the present study disagrees with the earlier findings of Rothman and McMillan (1998) and Frempong and Archampong, (2006) who found that gender is a significant factor in reading comprehension achievement of students. Their results favored females as scoring higher on tests of reading comprehension than males. The inconsistencies in the findings of studies relating to gender and reading achievement is a pointer to the fact that the gender factor in achievement in reading remains an issue that requires diversified attention. Examining the different aspects of socio-cultural factors as they relate to gender issues may yield some positive results. This study reveals that there is no significant interaction of gender and the learning strategies on reading comprehension of the students with visual impairment. This finding is similar to the observation by Eze (2006) that there was no significant interaction effect of instruction in learning strategy and gender on reading comprehension achievement of poor achieving students . The non-significant interaction of treatment and gender in this study indicates that the relative effect of instruction in the strategies is consistent across the two levels of gender, suggesting that both the male and female visually impaired students benefited significantly from the strategies taught.

EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS
Some educational implications can be deduced from the findings of this study.. The study provides an empirical evidence in support of the effectiveness of elaborative rehearsal and self-questioning strategies in enhancing reading comprehension of students with visual impairment. Since the learning strategies which students with visual impairment employ affects their reading comprehension, it is not enough to provide them with brailed materials for reading. Such students need exposure to adequate learning strategies such as elaborative rehearsal and self-questioning strategies that could promote reading comprehension

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS


From the findings and discussions of the study, it could be concluded that instruction in elaborative rehearsal and self questioning strategies facilitates reading comprehension achievement of students with visual impairment. The difference in the reading comprehension mean achievement scores among students exposed to elaborative rehearsal and self questioning strategies and those who used conventional reading strategy of reading and rereading was significant. However, there was no significant influence of gender on the reading comprehension achievement of students with visual impairment when exposed to the learning strategies. Based on the implications and results of the study, the following recommendations are suggested: 1. Students should be exposed to the learning strategies such as elaborative rehearsal and self-questioning strategies to enhance their reading comprehension achievement irrespective of their gender. 2. The pre-service teachers who are being trained to teach the students with visual impairment should not only focus on how to read and write Braille but need to understand the learning strategies students can acquire and use in coping with the learning problems they encounter in schools 3. Schools should create an environment of learning that encourage active participation of learner. Learning should be self directed and techniques for developing deep processing of information should be encouraged.

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