Exploring Secondary School Student Factors and Academic Outcomes at the Kitengesa Community Library

Exploring Secondary School Student Factors and Academic Outcomes at the Kitengesa Community Library

Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5043-5.ch005
OnDemand PDF Download:
$37.50

Abstract

This chapter provides an overview of research exploring the impact of the rural village library and other factors on secondary school students, a group of users that have been identified as a critical user group with a particular set of needs. Students in general are typically heavy users of these rural libraries, and use of the libraries by students take place within the context of complicated social, cultural, and environmental constructs, such as gender, socioeconomic status, reading habits, chronic poverty, and low literacy rates. These and other demographic factors are presented in chapter 1. Understanding the importance of these libraries to students is critical in light of the fact that schools in rural areas in Africa have little if any access to library or other reading materials and suffer from profound textbook shortages. Two groups of students—one with access to a rural village library and one without—served as the target population in a study of five factors related to students’ academic achievement (as measured by Overall Grade Average or OGA). The factors that were examined included library access, reading frequency, the presence of printed materials in the home, and the recreational reading of specific printed materials in the home. Taken together, the results provide some sense of the complexities involved in enhancing student outcomes in rural areas. The findings of this study may serve to highlight challenges associated with learning in rural environments as well as services that may help such as the rural village library.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Regardless of where students live and go to school, their ability to learn and grow academically is influenced not just by their school environment and teachers, but by a myriad of factors, which might include their family structure, the educational level of their parents, where they live, their health, gender, motivation to learn, and so on. They may be further influenced by academic factors such as reading ability. In order to better understand how the rural African village library impacts student users, researchers have considered of a variety of factors including reading frequency, library use frequency, and students’ socioeconomic status, in relation to students’ overall academic achievement. Factors related to reading habits and students’ reading environment have also been explored, including the presence and type of printed materials in the home, whether students read to others, whether students can take books home, and student/librarian interactions. Academic achievement is but one way to explore the impact of these libraries on students. While there is not a great deal of research available on this topic, a study by Dent (2006) found that access to a library and frequency of library use were not predictive of students’ academic outcomes, but reading frequency and the reading of certain types of printed materials for recreational purposes were predictive, and more importantly, these factors were often contingent on the presence of a library. In Uganda, only 18% of girls and 20% of boys are enrolled in secondary school, and this group of students (ages 13-17) is particularly vulnerable to a wide range of social and economic challenges. Classrooms with few scholastic resources and teachers with little access to supplemental reading materials undermine student learning and academic success, which further impairs the long-term development of a reading culture. A set of four research questions guided the inquiry:

  • What is the relationship between students’ rural village library access and OGA?

  • Is students’ reading frequency (i.e., the average number of reading hours per week over the course of the previous school year) correlated with higher OGA regardless of library access?

  • Does the presence of printed materials in the home predict the OGA of students, regardless of library access?

  • Does the reading of specific printed materials in the home for recreational purposes predict the OGA of students, regardless of library access?

The four factors are defined as follows. Reading frequency is described as the average number of reading hours per week during the previous school year, and library use frequency is described as the average number of library visits per week over the course of the previous school year. Library access is described as whether a student has access to a village library or not. Students’ overall grade average (OGA) refers to the average of mid and end-term grades across all school subjects for the previous school year. The presence of printed materials in the home refers to whether or not students have reading materials in the home, and the type of reading materials reflects the categories of printed materials in the home (religious, newspapers, etc.).

Top

Literature Review

The Rural Village Library

Discussion of the conceptual development and role of the rural village library in Africa has already been covered in this book (see Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4). These small, one-room libraries operate in areas without electricity, paved roads or running water, and they serve rural communities that have no other access to reading materials. The development of these libraries grew out of the need to compensate for certain deficiencies of the traditional public library in Africa. At present, the public library in Africa suffers from profound underfunding and out-of-date collections (Stilwell, 1989). Furthermore, these libraries are often located in the urban centers, as is the case in Uganda, whereas 88% of the population live in rural areas (UNICEF, 2011). For these reasons, the public library is not used by a majority of the population. The rural village library, where one exists, is often the only alternative means of providing reading and information materials for rural peoples. In many areas, these rural village libraries also serve as school libraries because there are no other such local resources. In the case of the Kitengesa Community Library, having access to resources locally allows residents to engage in both recreational and academic use of the library closer to home.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset