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The relationship between connotative meaning and the reading achievement of boys and girls in the second grade. Johnson, Terry Dawson

Abstract

From surveys of achievement in reading, it is evident that many people in our society do not learn to read adequately. It is also evident that the majority of the children who have difficulty in learning to read are boys who have emotional problems related to their reading behaviour. Through a review of the literature on identification, sex-role learning and the differential treatment of boys and girls in schools it was suggested that the numerical predominance of male over female retarded readers is related to the difference in connotative meanings that boys and girls attach to significant figures in their home and school environments. It was hypothesized that the connotative meanings that certain concepts have for boys would be significantly related to their reading ability. It was further hypothesized that no such relationship would exist for girls. To test the hypothesis measures were made of reading ability and connotative meanings certain concepts have for boys and girls in the second grade. Meaning was measured by means of the semantic differential. To assess the relative importance of the meanings of - the concepts measured as predictor variables of reading achievement, assessments of intelligence and socio-economic status were also made. Contrary to the hypothesis the findings indicated that for children in general the concepts measured seem to be more highly related to the reading achievement of girls than of boys. The one concept that appears to be significantly related to the reading achievement of both boys and girls is the female child, Janet, a literary figure in the basal reading series used in the school district selected for the study. Analysis of the data from individual classrooms suggests factors affecting reading achievement may be peculiar to a particular classroom. Future research may attempt to analyse the complex interaction of teacher, students, and reading material and then try to isolate the factors most relevant to reading achievement. Multiple regression analysis indicated that some of the concepts measured accounted for significantly more variance in reading ability than other factors such as intelligence sub-test scores and socio-economic status which are widely assumed to be related to reading ability. It was suggested that the failure to find any significant association between connotative meaning and reading achievement for boys may have been due to the level of reading ability measured by standardized reading tests. It was suggested that future research might look at the association between connotative meaning and independent and instructional levels of reading ability.

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