Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

Development and Validation of the Isakson Survey of Academic Reading Attitudes (ISARA)

Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

Development and Validation of the Isakson Survey of Academic Reading Attitudes (ISARA)

Article excerpt

The reading habits and abilities of college students are a concern. A senior said this in an oral interview about his college experience:

I hate classes with a lot of reading that is tested on. Any class where a teacher is just gonna give us notes and a worksheet or something like that is better. Something that I can study and just learn from in five [minutes] I'll usually do pretty good in. Whereas, if I'm expected to read, you know, a hundred-and-fifty-page book and then write a three-page essay on it, you know, on a test let's say, I'll probably do worse on that test because I probably wouldn't have read the book.... I rarely actually do reading assignments or stuff like that, which is a mistake I'm sure, but it saves me a lot of time (Grigsby, 2009, p. 117).

These comments illustrate why there is a concern regarding reading compliance, learning from reading, and students' attitudes toward academic reading. Many students do not read their assigned texts. Studies indicate that only 27% to 31% consistently read for class (Baier, Hendricks, Warren-Gorden, Hendricks, & Cochran, 2011; Clump, Bauer, & Bradley, 2004; University of California Board of Regents, 2008). Additionally, 16% of the students admitted to never reading their assignments (Pecorari, Shaw, Irvine, Malström, & Mezek, 2012). Aliteracy, being able to read but choosing not to, is being observed in many college students (Nathanson, Pruslow, & Levitt, 2008). This level of noncompliance is unacceptable for a quality education especially considering the estimate that 85% of college learning involves reading (Nist & Simpson, 2000). Another concern, even if students can and do read their assignments, is the question of how well they learn from reading. The National Survey of America's College Students (Baer, Cook, & Baldi, 2006) looked at the ability of college graduates to read complex texts and found that only 38% were proficient in prose literacy and 40% in document literacy.

Independent learning from reading is essential to college learning (Lei, Barlett, Gomey, & Herschbach, 2010; White, 2004). Professors have too little class time to transmit all that needs to be learned; plus, if students learn from text before class, that time can be used to clarify, discuss, apply, and enhance learning instead of transmitting the information. Students who read their assignments with engagement do better on exams, contribute more to class discussions, say they understand the lectures better (Lei et al., 2010; Sappington, Kinsey, & Munsayac, 2002), and learn deeply (Bain, 2012).

Researchers have identified reasons for the lack of reading compliance: Students expect to earn a good grade without reading (Baier et al., 2011; Berry, Cook, Hill, & Stevens, 2011), perceive they lack ability to learn from college texts (Ryan, 2006; University of California Board of Regents [UCUES], 2008; Zhang, 2008), do not enjoy it(Mokhtari, Reichard, & Gardner, 2009), and place little value on reading as a way to learn (Sikorski et al., 2002). Feelings toward reading can be positive or negative and can become entrenched based on past satisfying or disappointing experiences. F. Smith (2004) states this case, ". . . the emotional response to reading is treated insufficiently in most books about literacy . . . .although it is the primary reason most readers read, and probably the primary reason most nonreaders don't read" (p. 191). A student's emotional response to academic reading deserves greater attention. A meta-analysis of 32 studies of children (Petscher, 2010) found a moderately strong relationship between the two variables: attitudes toward reading and reading achievement. In college, students' reading attitude and reading comprehension significantly predicted academic achievement (Bastug, 2014). We agree with McKenna (2001) that studying attitudes must be part of an effort to bring greater engagement to the reading act. Since students need to learn from reading and to value it as a way of learning, the present study focuses on the attitudes that college students have toward reading. …

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