University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 28.8. Teacher qualifications alone are not adequate (Jere-Folotiya)

Start date: Aug 28, 2014 12:00 AM

End date: Aug 28, 2014 03:00 PM

Location: Mattilanniemi, Agora, Auditorio 3

MA Jacqueline Jere-Folotiya defends her doctoral dissertation in psychologyJere-Folotiya Jacqueline, kuva C. L. Folotiya "Influence of Grade One Teachers and Graphogame on Initial Literacy Acquisition: Lusaka District" Opponent Professor Ken Pugh (Haskins Laboratories, Yale University) and Custos Heikki Lyytinen (University of Jyväskylä). The event is in English.

Literacy is an important resource for effective communication and an essential skill for individuals to prosper in a modern society. The Zambian Government have over the years invested heavily in Education, particularly in early grade literacy. This has been done through the introduction of literacy curriculum that emphasises that children be taught initial literacy skills in a familiar, indigenous language. However, various research conducted nationwide in Zambia indicate that the proportion of learners achieving even the minimal expected standard of literacy by Grades 5 and 6 remains extremely low. Teachers play an important role in mediating the learning opportunities availed by Zambian public schools to first grade children. The main aim of this study to establish if a literacy game GraphoGame could assist teachers’ literacy teaching skills, with the view to improve the literacy skills of learners.

Results from this research revealed that indeed GraphoGame does impact literacy acquisition of learners when teachers are exposed to it. The teacher characteristics that determine how effective GraphoGame will be were identified in the study. These include the general teaching experience of the teacher, the teachers’ experience teaching literacy in the local languages and the number of learners in the classroom.  From the results, it can be concluded that GraphoGame was beneficial to teachers who had a large number of learners in their classroom when compared to learners in the control group. Teachers with less teaching experience had learners who performed better than teachers with more teaching experience in the teacher invention group that received minimal instruction than the learners of teachers who received intensive GraphoGame intervention.

These results have implications for both teachers, school administrators and the Government. The Government should consider GraphoGame as a potential literacy tool that could enhance teachers’ literacy teaching skills and thereby impact learner literacy acquisition skills positively. This decision would see the implementation of the Zambian Governments policy on the use of Information, Communication Technology in education. Apart from being introduced in the classroom, the use of GraphoGame can be introduced to teachers in teacher training institutions in order formally train teachers on how teachers can use the game in their classrooms. Hen implemented in schools, the age of the teacher and their prior teaching experience will need to be considered, although further research on how older, more experienced teachers respond to GraphoGame will need to be conducted. The mode and manner of teacher training with GraphoGame should also be considered results show that learners of teachers who were intensively exposed to GraphoGame did not perform as well as those who had received minimal intervention. The Government’s recognition and endorse of GraphoGame as a possible supplementary literacy school will ensure that school administrators and teachers implement it in the classroom.

  • For more information:

Jacqueline Jere-Folotiya, email:, phone: +2607977800391
Communications officer Anitta Kananen,,  tel. +358 40 805 4142,

Jacqueline Jere-Folotiya attended Secondary school at Roma Girls Secondary school in Lusaka. She studied for Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education the University of Zambia. She pursued her Masters degree in the same field in a joint programme between the University of Zambia and Yale University.  Her current PhD studies were conducted in another joint degree programme between the University of Zambia and Jyväskylä University in Finland. The research reported here was conducted as part of a larger research study, the Reading Support for Zambian Children (RESUZ), which was funded by the Academy of Finland.

The dissertation is published in the series Jyväskylä Studies in Jyväskylä studies in education, psychology and social research, 503. URN:ISBN:978-951-39-5801-5, ISBN 978-951-39-5801-5 (PDF), ISBN 978-951-39-5800-8, ISSN 0075-4625. It is available at the University Library’s Publications Unit, +358 (0)40 805 3825,



Various research conducted in Zambia have revealed that literacy levels of Zambian
learners are below the expected grade level. The Zambian Government has made huge
financial investments in introducing the Primary Reading Programme (PRP), which
emphasized the use of a familiar, indigenous language to teach basic literacy skills from
grades one to three. However, research conducted nationwide after the introduction of PRP
indicated that the proportion of learners achieving even the minimal expected standard of
literacy by Grades 5 and 6 remains extremely low. Teachers play an important role in
mediating the learning opportunities. The current study sought to investigate beliefs and
practices of first grade teachers and the degree to which they influence learners’ mastery of
initial literacy skills in Lusaka district. The study further sought to determine if and how a
literacy tool, GraphoGame, could interact with teacher variables to improve learners’
literacy skills. Data for the current research was collected as part of a larger research project
called the Reading Support for Zambian Children (RESUZ). At the core of the study was
GraphoGame intervention, GraphoGame. Intervention groups were formed for learners,
teachers and a combination of both. The current study used both qualitative and
quantitative methods of data collection. The sample consisted of first grade teachers from
Zambian Government schools (N = 63) age range 25-54 and their learners (N = 288) age
range 6-9 years. Data on teachers’ self-reported teaching practices and attitudes about
intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, learner versus teacher centred approaches, personal
theories of teaching and views about the curriculum was collected using a semi-structured
questionnaire. Data collection on learners’ literacy development was conducted using
locally developed paper and pencil tests of ciNyanja spelling recognition and orthographic
awareness. Basic descriptive and simple moderation analyses were used to analyse the
data. Results showed that the teachers endorse the use of local language and the phonemic
approach in the literacy curriculum. Teachers believe in the learner centred approach over
the teacher centred approach. As a personal theory of teaching, they do not believe that
every child can learn. They also believe they are intrinsically motivated, although they felt
their remuneration was inadequate. Results revealed no significant impact of teacher
characteristics and beliefs on literacy acquisition of learners. However, moderation analysis
revealed that GraphoGame interacts with the following teacher variables: number of
learners taught by the teacher, experience teaching literacy to first grade learners and
experience teaching literacy in the local language. The study recommends that Government
consider the use of town ciNyanja in the curriculum for Lusaka district; intrinsic
motivation of teachers should be enhanced; the use of learner centred approaches should
be emphasised; teaching qualification requirements for early grade teachers should be
upgraded and GraphoGame can be potentially used to enhance literacy teaching skills of

Key words: first grade learners, teachers, motivation, teaching approaches, literacy
curriculum, personal theories of teaching, GraphoGame