A Study on Extensive Reading in Higher Education

A Study on Extensive Reading in Higher Education

Diana Presadă (Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiesti, Romania) and Mihaela Badea (Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiesti, Romania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch342


As practicing university teachers, we have noticed that students tend to focus exclusively on syllabus reading materials ignoring reading for pleasure outside the classroom. Rarely taught in ordinary university classes, extensive reading skills may play an important part in the foreign language teaching and learning process. Given these facts, we have decided to pilot an extensive reading program at academic level, the ultimate aim being to implement it in the future. Therefore, the purposes of the paper are to discover students' attitude towards extensive reading and to assess the results of the pilot as reflected in their opinions with a view to conceiving a large-scale future reading program. The study attempts to shed light on the issues triggered by the introduction of such a program into the curriculum of philological students, being mainly concerned with the practical side of the phenomenon and highlighting the interdependence between our findings and the latest theories in the field.
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The general framework of the research on the implementation of an extensive reading program in higher education was provided by two categories of studies, their principles being applicable to reading no matter the medium, printed material or web resources.

The first category includes theories dealing with the effectiveness and positive effects of extensive reading on both cognitive and affective levels (Horst, 2005; Farrell, 2009; Nakanishi, 2015), whose synthesis of benefits is suggested by Nakanishi (2015: 9): ‘the freedom students have to choose books, the degree of autonomy enjoyed by the students, and the motivation to continue reading’. Moreover, the academic environment seems to be ideal for the application of an extensive reading program because, as Nakanishi (2015: 10) highlights, ‘the effect of extensive reading increases with older participants (…), who tend to learn language explicitly drawing on their analytical skills.’ The second category refers to the extensive reading activities described by Bamford & Day (2004) who offer a wide variety of useful ideas for an extensive reading program, including complex activities by means of which ‘teachers must take into account the effect of a class activity and a reading material not just on students’ ability to read, but on students’ self-images as readers, and on their feeling toward reading itself.’ (Day & Bamford, 1998: 166).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Reading Level: The level at which a reader understands a text.

Extensive Reading: Reading in quantity, outside the classroom, to get a general understanding of a text.

Intensive Reading: Reading in the classroom in order to get a detailed understanding of a text.

Language Motivation: Various factors, such as willingness, desires and attitudes, determining students to learn a second language.

Fictional Texts: Types of texts including poems, short stories, novels and plays.

Non-Fictional Texts: Types of texts including newspapers, magazines, textbooks etc.

Graded Reading: Reading according to the students’ language level.

Online Library: List of links to download reading material.

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