A basic premise of the investigation is that the acquisition and exercise of advanced reading skills are essential for effective adolescent learning. For the benefits of reading to accrue maximally, learners should continue to read avidly during leisure and long after basic reading instruction, traditionally the domain of the primary school, has ceased. The purpose of this study is to investigate factors that influence the voluntary reading of some South African adolescents, specifically at an age when they undergo emotional, intellectual, social and physical changes which influence their behaviour, habits and choices. The research problem focuses on the transition from primary to secondary school, since extant literature shows that numerous factors influence adolescents’ reading habits during this phase, sometimes resulting in declining voluntary reading. Parameters for the investigation are set by the theoretical framework, centring on four domains that highlight the research problem, namely adolescence, literature, literacy and voluntary reading. Facets of these domains are explored, specifically motivation, qualitative change and the influence of home, school and community. Vygotsky’s theories on adolescent development underscore the research, as well as research on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation since, axiomatically, reading strategies develop optimally with high motivation. Stage-environmental fit theories - applied to motivation, self-efficacy or reading development - assert that learners have different sets of psychological, cognitive and psychosocial needs at different developmental levels, and unless these needs are met, academic achievement, appreciation for learning and effective reading development can decline. The often critical transition from primary to secondary school can result in a variety of lifestyle changes, and periodicity theories support the pattern and scaffolding of these transformational factors. Merging the relevant domains with developmental theories creates a matrix of Piagetian cognitive stratification. Chall’s model of developmental reading stages crafts an epistemological foundation and further refines constructivist principles developed by Vygotsky. Together they form a network explaining factors of transitional change that influence adolescents’ voluntary reading activities. The study’s methodology is delineated and followed by a description of the qualitative research design, data collection, data analysis strategies and ethical considerations. The course of the inquiry is refined in a closer focus on three domains and an explanation of the research instruments. The strengths and limitations of the study are discussed, as well as issues of reliability, validity, authenticity and generalisability. The empirical results are extrapolated from face-to-face interviews with ten respondents and their views generate the findings after a four-tiered analysis of the interview transcripts. Themes and conclusions are couched in three domains of the theoretical framework in an endeavour to address the research problem. The final chapter offers a synthesis by interweaving the theoretical outline and empirical findings. A hypothesis opening future avenues for investigation is identified, namely the factor of the internalisation of speech on reading in general and voluntary reading in particular. Two significant findings indicate that developmental stage theories effectively describe the transitional nature of the reading experiences of Grade Eight learners, and that intrinsic motivation, mastery learning and self-efficacy views play central roles in the continuation of voluntary reading.
Thesis (PhD (Learning Support, Guidance and Counselling))--University of Pretoria, 2006.