Do the Low Levels of Reading Course Material Continue? an Examination in a Forensic Psychology Graduate Program

Article excerpt

Clump, Bauer, and Bradley (2004) and Burchfield and Sappington (2000) previously found extremely low levels of reading in undergraduate psychology courses. The current study investigated whether these low levels of reading are also found with graduate students, or if this value is altered by only investigating individuals who show continued interest in higher education. As a result, we assessed the reading levels of students in graduate Forensic Psychology courses. Across the six courses from which data were collected, 193 usable responses to the Textbook Reading in this Course (The Teaching Professor, 2001) and 4 questions from previous research by Solomon (1979) were analyzed. Unfortunately, the reading levels of these graduate students, who recently graduated from college, are still disappointing with students only reading 54.21% of the assigned material before class and 84.14% before a test.

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Previous research has investigated the level of student reading in psychology courses (Burfield & Sappington, 2000; Clump, Bauer, & Bradley, 2004). Burchfield and Sappington found a consistent decrease in required reading across a 20-year time span by graduate and undergraduate students. Clump et al. found that across undergraduate psychology courses, the students only read 27.46% of the assigned readings before class and 69.98% of the readings before a test. The graduate students in Burchfield and Sappington's study were found to have a mean compliance reading rate of 61.6%. Mokhtari and Sheorey (1994) found on average only .57 proportion of the surveyed ESL graduate students endorsed reading the different items the authors listed as reading materials usually required for studying in college. All of these findings are rather disappointing.

A survey composed of the Textbook Reading in this Course (TRTC) and 4 questions from previous research by Solomon (1979) was given to Forensic Psychology graduate students to determine the extent to which these students, who had recently graduated from college, but showed a continued interest in the pursuit of higher education, read the assigned course readings (i.e., textbooks and/or primary sources). Given the plethora of information related to the way that undergraduate students handle course-related material, one begins to wonder if this trend continues into graduate school. The results of this study are important to both graduate and undergraduate faculty because it provides information about the reading habits of graduate students; but more importantly, it further provides insight into the habits of undergraduate students by indicating that their previous behavior of not reading textual material continues in graduate school.

Method

Participants

Usable data was collected from 193 responses by students in master's-level graduate courses at an eastern university. Of those responses, 20 responses were from the PS 500 Research and Evaluation course, 18 responses were from the PS 517 Applied Social Psychology course, 20 were from the SOC 510 Theories of Social Deviance course, 81 responses were from the PS 517 Neuropsychological Issues, Treatments, and Assessments course, 22 responses were from the PS 582 Advanced Issues in Forensic Psychology course, and 38 responses were from the PS 585 Forensic Assessment course. It was possible for a student to have completed the instrument in more than one course as the instrument asks students to indicate their reading habits for each course in which they complete it. Participation in this study was completely voluntary. The participants ranged in age from 21-years-old to 53-years-old (M = 25.45-years-old, SD = 5.22-years-old), with 88.4% of the students selecting female as their gender and 11.6% selecting male. Modal year in school was the 2nd year in graduate school (46.2%), followed by 1st year (45.2%), 3rd year (6.0%), and other (2.0%). The students had completed on average 18. …