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: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7365-4.ch053

Abstract

As practicing university teachers, the authors 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, the authors decided to pilot an extensive reading program at the academic level, the ultimate aim being to implement it in the future. Therefore, the purposes of the chapter are to discover students' attitudes 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 the findings and the latest theories in the field.
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Background

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).

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