Factors contributing to poor performance of grade 12 pupils in literature in english examinations in western province of Zambia
Mubita, Eddie Sing'alamba
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Literature in English is a beneficial subject to learners who take it. However, learner performance in national examinations has remained poor country-wide in general, and Western Province in particular as evidenced by successive Examination Council of Zambia (ECZ) reports of 2013 to 2016. The 2017 Grade 12 Examination Results (Highlights), which inspired this study, reported a nation-wide failure percentage of 37.66 % while the 2017, Grade 12 Grade Distribution by Location by ECZ showed that 2/3 of the schools offering Literature in Western Province in 2017 recorded failure percentages of 30 % and above. Thus, this study was conducted to establish the factors contributing to the poor performance of Grade 12 learners in Literature in English national examinations, in Western Province. To do this, the study sought to establish: the preparedness of teachers to teach the subject; the strategies teachers employ in teaching the subject; the attitudes of teachers and learners towards the subject and the factors leading to poor performance of learners. A qualitative approach, employing a case study strategy of inquiry, was adopted. The following data collection techniques were used: classroom observations, interviews and focus group discussions. Purposive sampling technique was used to select teachers and Grade 12 pupils while snowball sampling was used to select former Grade 12 pupils who failed Literature. A total of 150 respondents were selected; 100 Grade 12 learners taking Literature in English, 20 teachers of Literature in English, 10 Heads of Literature and Language Departments (HoDs) and 20 former learners who failed the subject. Data were analyzed qualitatively through coding and identification of emerging themes. Abraham Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of needs and Victor Vroom’s (1964) Expectancy theories constituted the theoretical framework underpinning the study. The study established that teachers of Literature were mostly inadequately prepared, inexperienced, lacked relevant subject background knowledge and were limited in terms of pedagogical practices. Additionally, the serious shortage of texts, poor reading culture among teachers and learners, low learner proficiency levels in English as well as negative attitudes by some teachers and learners were found to be some of the major factors affecting performance. The study recommends holding of periodic capacity building programmes for teachers, specialization in teaching set texts and use of interactive strategies as possible remedial measures. Key words: Factor, Poor, Performance, Grade 12, Pupils, Literature in English, Western Province, Zambia.
The University of Zambia