Effects of Direct and Discovery Methods on Main Idea Comprehension Ability of Selected Senior Secondary School Students in Plateau State, Nigeria.


The study was designed to compare the of the Direct and the Discovery Method on students’ main idea ability.

The specific were to determine whether students taught using the Direct Method of finding main ideas would perform better than those who were taught using the Discovery Method.

For the purpose of data collection, a sample of one hundred and twenty SS2 students, randomly selected from two Senior Secondary Schools in Langtang North Local Government Area of State, participated in the study.

Using the Solomon– Four-Group Experimental Design, the sample was randomly divided into two major Experimental Groups, A and B, with sixty students in each Group.

Each major Group was further randomly divided into four sub-groups, with fifteen students in each group.

Group A was taught using the Direct Method, while Group B was taught using the Discovery Method.

The data were analyzed using the t-test statistic and the analysis of variance (ANOVA). The Post-test Mean Scores of Group A were computed and compared with the Post-test Mean Scores of Group B.

To determine which method was more effective, a post hoc test was carried out to compare the mean scores of the four groups.

The results indicated that though both methods were found to be effective in teaching the students the skills of finding the main ideas of text materials, students in Group A who were taught using the Direct Method performed significantly better than those in Group B who were taught using the Discovery Method.

It was also found that students taught using the Direct Method performed better than those who were not exposed to any method of finding main ideas. Similarly, the group taught using the Discovery Method also did better than those who were not taught any method of finding main ideas.

In other words, the four experimental groups performed better than their counterparts in the control groups.

The results also revealed that generally, secondary school students had difficulty in locating main ideas in both narrative and expository texts, but they found expository texts more difficult.

The findings of this study were interpreted in terms of the need for direct and deliberate instruction in text structure and main idea identification.


Background of the study

The comprehension of reading materials depends, to a large extent, on the ability of the readers to identify the author’s main ideas or most important information.

Research has shown that readers will have difficulty understanding a text if they cannot locate its main ideas.

The ability to figure out the main ideas of a passage or paragraph is an indication that the reader has understood that passage (Oyetunde, 1986).

As one of the basic and most important comprehension skills required of a reader, main idea skills help readers comprehend, recall, and retain better what they read.

The point is, if a reader can discover the main ideas of each paragraph quickly and skillfully, he will be able to read textbooks and other materials faster and with a better understanding.

Reading with adequate comprehension is the key to success in almost every subject in the curriculum.

It is, therefore, the consensus of reading experts and researchers that main idea skills must be taught to students in a direct, Active, systematic, and effective manner, to enable them to comprehend, recall and retain better what they read (Baumann, 1986; Aulls, 1986).


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