Nature and prevalence of writing difficulties among learners at fourth grade: A case of selected Primary Schools in Lusaka District of Zambia

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Phiri, Juma
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The University of Zambia
The purpose of the study was to determine the nature and prevalence of writing difficulties among learners at fourth grade, in four selected primary schools in Lusaka district. A descriptive survey research design was used in the study, and the study employed both quantitative and qualitative research methods to analyse data. The study sample consisted of 90 respondents: 80 grade four learners and 10 grade four teachers .The Basic skills Assessment tool (BASAT), Teachers Questionnaires and checklist were the instruments that were used to collect data. Stratified sampling then simple random sampling were the methods that were used to select grade four learners while purposive sampling was used to select teachers. Data from the BASAT and checklist was analysed quantitatively using Statistical package for social Sciences (SPSS) to generate tables, figures and graphs. Qualitative data from teachers’ questionnaires was analysed thematically. The study revealed that, the writing abilities of grade four in the sampled schools were relatively low and below their grade level. The nature of handwriting difficulty was mainly characterized with poor spellings, poor spacing, messiness and combination of upper and lower cases in words, while expressive writing difficulty was characterised by difficulties in formulation of coherent ideas, poor paragraphing and punctuation marks. The prevalence of writing difficulties of learners who participated in the study was generally high and did not reflect writing abilities of their grade level. An average of 50(64.05%) learners had difficulties writing words and sentences from the BASAT while 61(76.25%) were unable to write the tested story correctly. The high prevalence of writing difficulties of grade four learners was more attributed to school and teacher factors, and to a lesser extent to learner factors. The study has highlighted school- factors that contributed to learners writing difficulties as: inadequate teacher training in teaching writing skills, lack of continuous orientation writing programmes, overcrowded classrooms and insufficient time to teach writing, while teacher factors include: lack of adequate teacher knowledge in teaching phonological awareness and other writing instructional strategies, as well as lack of assessing learners’ writing difficulties and inadequate administering of remedial work. Learner factors include; inadequate oral English vocabulary, lack of phonological awareness, poor reading and lack of interest in writing. The study recommended that, The MOESVTEE should introduce new programmes aimed at the teaching of writing skills to learners. The study further recommended that, the teaching of writing skills should be time-tabled on the school time table, to compel teachers to teach writing skills; and that over enrolment of pupils in lower grades should be controlled to allow enough teacher-pupil contact and to maximise learning opportunities for all learners.
Language arts(Primary)