Teachers’ knowledge of early reading development and instruction : a survey of primary grade teachers in FCT Abuja, Nigeria
Despite investment of resources in education across Nigeria, low rates of literacy among the student population continue to remain a concern. Previous research has suggested that one critical factor related to student reading achievement is teachers’ knowledge of reading development and instruction. Thus, the current study sought to explore knowledge of early literacy development and instruction among primary grade teachers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, Nigeria. The data used in this study were collected through a secure Qualtrics survey between January and May 2022. Following thorough screening and cleaning of the survey data, the final sample included 391 primary grade teachers (58.82% female) from both the public (53.96%) and private sectors (46.04%). Overall, knowledge of primary grade teachers in FCT Abuja, Nigeria regarding reading instruction was low, with scores ranging between 4-24 on the 40-item teacher knowledge survey (TKS). Across three sections of the TKS, participants obtained mean scores of 3.73 (SD = 1.85) on 14 items related to pedagogy, 7.29 (SD = 2.65) on 21 items tapping foundational reading skills, and 0.93 (SD = 1.00) on 5 items tapping meaning making/comprehension. Private school teachers performed higher on the TKS (M = 13.30, SD = 4.25), compared to those in public schools (M = 10.80, SD = 3.08). When measuring teachers’ perceptions and beliefs about early reading instruction, there was a high level of endorsement of all statements, both those that were supported by evidence and those that were not. Most teachers in this sample reported that English was the language in which they first learned to read (85.42%) and their secondary school instruction was in English (95.91%). Finally, regression analyses were used to examine the relative influence of teachers’ professional characteristics on TKS score. Teaching certification, years of experience, and formal coursework were not statistically significant predictors of knowledge, while participation in professional development significantly predicted teachers’ TKS scores. Findings from this study have implications for understanding the teaching workforce in Nigeria and how this may support initiatives that attempt to improve teacher training, reading instruction, and the overall educational landscape.