Viewing Skills in the EL Classroom

An action research


P. Ragulan, an EL teacher at CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh), decided to find out whether helping students to develop their metacognitive skills would improve their ability to respond to pictures in more depth. He approach Vimala Alexander, Master Teacher/ English Language from ELIS for guidance, and with her support, he embarked on an action research project, The results were encouraging as they indicated that students responses improved.

I had noticed in the past that when I taught my

students how to discuss a picture, very few

of them could do so at length. Most of their

responses tended to focus only on surface aspects

of the picture.Their responses also often lacked

structure and cohesion. After attending an oracy

course facilitated by Vimala Ale><.ander, I began to

look more critically at the challenges my students

faced in responding to a picture stimulus. From my

discussion with Vimala on how I could improve

their skills, I realised I could provide them with a

structure to scalfold their responses.

After Vimala and I reviewed the literature on this

subject, we decided on Barrett’s Taxonomy which

is given in Table l.This taxonomy was originally

devised for reading comprehension but we felt

it could be used for the teaching of viewing skills.

Using the taxonomy, students could be encouraged

to give and explain their responses to the picture


With Vimala’s advice, I decided to embark on an

Action Research (AR) project. The following was

my research question: ‘Does providing students

with a metacognitive structure improve their

ability to analyse and interpret a picture?’With this

question in mind, I carried out the AR project to

find out if the use of Barrett’sTa::<onomy would help

Secondary 4 Normal Academic students respond

to picture stimuli with greater depth, organisation

and structure.