Three Decades of Sustained Silent Reading: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Effects of SSR on Attitude toward Reading

By Yoon, Jun-Chae | Reading Improvement, Winter 2002 | Go to article overview

Three Decades of Sustained Silent Reading: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Effects of SSR on Attitude toward Reading


Yoon, Jun-Chae, Reading Improvement


The purposes of this meta-analytic study were to investigate the overall effect of Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) on attitude toward reading and to identify the moderator variables of SSR on it. A meta-analytical approach developed by Hedges and Olkin (1985) was used. Results indicated that the average of effect size on reading attitude is .12. For moderator variables, grade level was found to be significant for reading attitude. These findings suggest that providing a fixed period of time for students to read materials of their own choosing either for pleasure or for information facilitate their attitude toward reading. Furthermore, this study supports the recommendation of earlier intervention of SSR in improving students' attitude toward reading.

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Most education systems worldwide have emphasized a high level of reading and a love of reading as important educational objectives (Elley, 1994). Also, the majority of teacher educators and teachers in the field of literacy education have rated highly the instructional goal of fostering students' reading attitude and reading performance (Morrow, 1991). Nevertheless, aliteracy, "lack of the reading habit in capable readers," (Harris & Hedges, 1995, p. 6) has been a serious concern for children in many countries. According to Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding (1988), American students spend only an average of 18.4 minutes per day reading printed materials out of school. Unfortunately, there has been no significant increase in the amount of time American students spent reading either for pleasure or for learning (Campbell, Voelkl, & Donahue, 1997).

Similarly, Korean students spend an average of 30 minutes of reading and an average 160 minutes of watching television per day at home. Since 1990, no significant change has been observed in the amount of time they reported reading for pleasure out of school (Yoon, Kim, Yi, & Yi, 2000). More recently, the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) report of international student assessment showed that most 15-year-olds worldwide do not read for enjoyment. Further, of those who read, most do for less than an hour per day out of school (Henry, 2001).

As a way of cultivating a love of reading, Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), which is an in-classroom reading activity wherein students are given a fixed period of time for the silent reading of self-selected material either for pleasure or for information, has gained popularity in many elementary and secondary classrooms in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and New Zealand (Dymock, 200; Halpern, 1981; Nagy, Campenni, & Shaw, 2000; Southgate, 1975, cited in Wheldall & Entwistle, 1988). Reviews of SSR (see Dymock, 2000; National Reading Panel, 2000; Sadoski, 1984; West, 1995), however, failed to establish its educational impact on attitude toward reading. Indeed, scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of SSR on reading attitude is equivocal. For example, a few studies have indicated that SSR promotes positive attitudes toward reading (Aranha, 1985; Dully, 1989; Wilmot, 1975). In contrast, other research results question whether SSR has a positive influence on attitude toward reading (Collins, 1980; Dwyer & Reed, 1989; Langford & Allen, 1983; Manning & Manning, 1984; Summers & McClelland, 1982).

It was the purpose of this paper to examine the effects of SSR on reading attitude by employing Hedges and Olkin's (1985) meta-analytic procedure. Two research questions were posed: (a) Does SSR enhance students' attitude toward reading and (b) what contextual features of SSR are associated with students' reading attitude? The purpose of the first question was to evaluate the overall effect of SSR on reading attitude. The second question permitted the identification of SSR moderator variables on it.

Theoretical Framework

SSR and Reading Attitude

It has been argued that there are three important characteristics of SSR, which are supposed to mediate the relationship between reading attitude/reading comprehension and the activity. …

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