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Reading Among Students
 

Reading Among Students

By

Abdullah I. Al Faifi

Introduction

Reading in general is a big word that branches into so many topics. Nations advancement is based on education which includes reading as a main part of its elements. Therefore, whenever a nation wants to advance, reading must be one of its characteristics. Reading is not dedicated to certain people indeed. It is a gift for anyone can read and understand as well. But, there are places where reading must take place. In schools, it is expected that reading is a duty. Unfortunately, what is expected opposes the reality although there are few students do read. Then, we have two parties of students through which this research would survey its general topic.

 

It is very strange to find people who have to read as one of their jobs; nevertheless, they even do not think to do. In specific levels, it is quite common that the majority of students do not read. Of course, such status did not happen haphazardly. There must be different reasons related to the main question why do not students read?

 

On the other hand, there is a few numbers of those who read. Meanwhile, there are different stimulants urge them to read. Such students might read either outside reading which is in areas has nothing to do with their courses in the school or inside reading which means reading for studying. This particular point needs a practical answer given by the students themselves.  As far as this research is concerned with students in the first rate, I will give priority to students themselves in some of my references. Simultaneously, I will not ignore books, articles, websites and other resources.

 

As it is clear above, reading process is complicated area. Theorists always emphasize that whenever reading and studying become a kind of pleasure, everything will go smoothly. Almini, E. (2006) asserts that "one of the objectives is that students should take pleasure in reading in their free-time" (P.6). This issue would be covered supported with convincing solutions.

 

So, reading among students based upon so many questions, issues and problems are going to discuss is the central idea. This study would include questioning, interviewing, examining, investigating, quoting and finally analyzing so that a reader would receive a perfect view from which he can deal with this issue from various perspectives.

                                                                                       Literature Review

I found many writings deal with such issue in details from different points of view although August, G. (2006) cited that "…it is surprising that there is little concrete research devoted to the development of good reading comprehension for adult readers" (P.246). Certainly, I disagree with August because I found many articles for different people from different countries in Arabic and in English discussing reading among students from which I came up with different questions will be mostly the main bases of this work. Below, I am going to investigate the challenges that reading process faces among students beginning with reasons and finally ending with solutions.

 

First of all, we must look for the reasons that cause ignoring reading process. In this area Mohandes, A. (2007) asks "are the expensive prices of books blocks the way of buying books?" (Riyadh News Paper). Mostly this is the main reason that many people agreed upon. Anyhow, I would examine it in a next section and we will see if it is really valid.  

 

Since students and schools are my main concern, I have to pay more attention to the process of reading in schools as long as it is a mere duty for them. As one of the main reasons behind neglecting reading in schools, the American author Stotsky, S. (2006) claims that "they also tell us that across grade levels, graphic organizers are least useful for elementary students as opposed to university population, result in little gain in student comprehension when used as a pre-reading activity. And may not be effective at all without direct by the teacher" (P.10). Despite that the author here is throwing everything on the teacher, it is unfair indeed. I think that the teacher is a part of a united circle includes students and curriculum. Each one of them takes place in completing the whole circle although the teacher is the most important factor within the frame.

 

The environment and the surroundings in general play a very significance role regarding. The factor of the environment can be looked at from the larger angle which includes everything around the reader even the weather as Dr. G, Sanstead. (2006) mentioned the importance of "understanding the effect of external factors on the health of individuals, families and communities" (P.2). The other smaller circle is the family. In this regard Hashem, N. (2003) points out that "a child will not be drawn to reading if his/her family does not read" (Riyadh News Paper). So, it is clear that the surroundings are another respectful factor.

 

Students themselves are also responsible for this problem to a large extent. Taeb, M. (1419AH) provides three main reasons that cause abstention from reading. They are "reading a long book, difficult topics and the weakness of one's language" (P.26). Such reasons would create turning away from reading. It indicates that a student can familiarize himself with reading by avoiding these things. In other words, he must begin reading short books of simple topic. When he gets used to such kind of book, then he moves forward to a little bit longer books and so on.

 

So far we have not zoom into the process of reading itself, I think it deserves to be investigated alone regardless of the other outside elements. Dr. Habibullah, M. (1421AH) points out very considerable aspect when he said "reading process cannot be excluded from the other related skills such as writing, speaking and listening" (P.165). Hence, we ask that does that mean a good reader is also a good writer and listener? And what skill of these one should start with?

 

Although it is a complicated matter, experts give us very excellent solutions. The previous quotation can be dealt with as a solution if we say that a student should improve all skills which are listening, writing and speaking altogether. Focusing on just reading is not enough. Furthermore, in the case of the teachers Alshalan, R. (1424AH) provides very good steps to help students to value books. He says "teachers have to give their students a free time for reading after which teachers should discuss with them what they have read. Through attractive indirect way, teachers should introduce some books for the sake of urging their students to buy them. Finally, teachers should set students in situation in which they should go to read books" (P.28).                                                                                          

                                                                                     Methodology                                                                                             Reasons behind Neglecting Reading

Researchers question that why people in general turn away from reading books. It is known that this is a big global problem. Mohandes, A. (2007) asks "are the expensive prices of books blocks the way of buying books?" He brings out convincing answer for his question by stating that "the expensive prices of books are not the reason because books are less expensive than video tapes". Then, he demonstrates that "the reason is that people become aware that there are easy-to-find and easy-to-use sources where you can find any knowledge or information you need such as TV, video and internet" (Riyadh News Paper). As some people thought, it is an old traditional way to bather yourself reading a book consists of hundreds of pages while you can learn what you want through fast, easy and interesting way. To certain extent, we agree with them as long as you will reach the same result wither from a book or from a website but with some reservations. Such concept faces certain obstacles in fact. Is learning or through a website is as useful as learning through books. It is absolutely not true for many valid reasons. First, the great scientists in mostly all fields have learned basically from books but not from websites or video tapes. We really admit that the TV, websites and video tapes are factor to have knowledge. However, I think that they should take place as secondary factors. Second, books are available and easy-to-carry everywhere. The importance of this exact reason is that the process of reading and educating oneself becomes continual all the time. Hence, we can say that you learn something every hour while websites and TV lack this advantaged characteristic due to the fact that they are not available all the and thus the process of learning is limited. Third, although you need a little bit an extended time to reach the information that you look for, you will lose nothing at all because you are going to see another and concepts you did not pay attention to. Sometimes you will be attracted to another direction where you find more and more information but in the case of TV, websites and video tapes, you will be taken directly to the point without any further information. Now, we recognize the difference between the two ways and we see the advantages and the disadvantages of both of them. Consequently, books are extremely better than any other sources.

                                                                                                   The Process of Reading in Schools

The problem occurs in a case like schools where reading should take place as an obligatory task. In schools, there are three factors play the main role in this regard. The teacher, the students and the curriculums. The most effective factor is the teacher of course. He is the one who controls everything. Mostly, students dignify everything gets out of his mouth. Consequently, teachers undertake the problem of neglecting reading among students to a large extent. As will be shown later, 30% of the students in the secondary school that I made my questionnaire in responded negatively when I asked them that do their teachers encourage them to study?  Alshalan, R. (1424AH) puts forward some techniques, most of the teachers do not use them. However, we cane take them as good methods for teachers in how to deliver encouragements to students. "Teachers have to give their students a free time for reading after which teachers should discuss with them what they have read. Through an attractive indirect way, teachers should introduce some books for the sake of urging their students to buy them. Finally, teachers should set students in situation in which they should go to read books" (P.28). While I was discussing with him an issue concerning the method of teaching, Alfaifi, M. (2006) who works as a supervisor in The Saudi Ministry of Education told me that "supervisors always deliver lectures to teachers in various topics concerning the way of dealing with students. But the problem is that rare are those who respond and apply. Moving to the second factor who is the student, we should start from his inner side in fact. If there is no seriousness within the student himself or what is called the personal interest, surely we are going to end up with nothing. Therefore, we should concentrate on how to familiarize what is not familiar? The third factor which is the weakest one is the curriculums. It is extremely a secondary one because it is controlled first by the teacher and second by the student. Anyhow, it is the responsibility of those who are charged with writing the curriculums. They have to guide the learner step by step from nothing into the stage of creativity trying to involve a kind of pleasure so that a reader can find what attracts him.                                                                                                   

                                                                                                 The Effect of The Environment

As a human activity, reading cannot be excluded from its surroundings. Almost, the existent of reading is a result of many causes stimulates a reader to read. That means, if a student was grown up in a family where no reading activity is stimulated, reasonably, we expect to have no interest of reading from any figure of that family. That what roughly all psychologists claim. Hashem, N. (2003) claims that "a child will not be drawn to reading if his/her family does not read" (Riyadh News Paper). Here, the writer observes the importance of the environment that either encourages or discourages. Out of this point, we figure out the importance of the model because if we agree that the environment may encourage or discourage, it means that we are moving around the idea of having a model that a reader would imitate. The effect might take place out of the family. An encouragement to read may occur eventhough the narrow surrounding which is the family is not a good place for that. That is exactly what happened to me. I remember that one of my colleges called Alshrimi, K. (2006) advised me "you have to read as much books as you can so that you become an intellectual man". I directly answered "I am fed up with my courses in the collage. How it comes that you want me to bather myself with outside books again". Although my answer merely reveals no possibility to think about reading, I was within myself seriously thinking to dive into the world of books.             

                                                                                           

 Statistics Analysis and Results

In the case of schools where reading from books is necessarily required task for students, there is no way to avoid this certain process. The problem is caused essentially by having students who are not accustomed with books from the beginning. As a result, they reject and even hate books.

 

I made a questionnaire in Ibn Almother Secondary School. I set forth various questions concerning reading in the case of studying and reading outside books in general. I come up with almost the following results.

 

Table 1

 

Descriptive Statistics

 

Studying per day

80%

Studying for passing

90%

Studying for getting benefit

20%

The family encourages to study

95%

The teacher encourages to study

30%

Reading outside books

40%

Visiting books fairs

95%

Reading the whole topic

40%

Jumping into specific places inside the topic

30%

 

As it is clear in the above table, it is good to have the majority of our students studying per day. But, the problem is that they feel forced when studying. Such feeling will cause difficulty to comprehend. It is rare to have creativity out of being forced. Perfect achievement as well as creativity will be found whenever pleasure is found. I still remember that one time in Japan, the people protest to have a long vacation. It indicates that they find their enjoyment not at home but in working. That is why Japanese people are one of the most creative people around the world. So, I am sure that the case in Japan will be totally different. I think we will find out that the majority of their students do not feel forced when studying rather they enjoy while reading indeed.

 

The age plays an important role in fact. In the intermediate schools I came up with different results. I was shocked when I saw many answers mocking at my questionnaire. That was in Bakr Almozani Intermediate School. For the sake of having different good answers, I made another questionnaire in Omar Almokhtar Intermediate School. Unfortunately, nothing changed. I become affirmed that such thing reveals the significance of the age. Most of the students in intermediate schools are teenagers. In that age a person is not in a normal statue. In other words, you cannot judge him due to the fact that usually a teenager is going to change mentally to a better statue whenever this difficult period finishes. Below mostly is the outcome that I take over the two intermediate schools.

 

Table 2

 

Descriptive Statistics

Studying per day

55%

Studying for passing

93%

Studying for getting benefit

16%

The family encourages to study

96%

The teacher encourages to study

22%

Reading outside books

27%

Reading for pleasure

63%

Feeling forced when studying

98%

Reading in favored fields

100%

Reading from books

30%

Reading from news paper

86%

Reading from computers

37%

Visiting books fairs

95%

Reading the whole topic

30%

Jumping into specific places inside the topic

37%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the above chart demonstrates the case in the intermediate schools, I am not really confident with the results because in many papers the way of the handwritings I noticed reveals that the students were writing anything. Anyhow, certainly we can say that the process of reading in the intermediate schools is less important and valuable. That is what I expected to reach at.

 

What is amazing is that a great number of students appreciate book fairs while a few number do read outside books. Obviously, it is a contradictory view. Do they visit book fairs just to entertain themselves by looking at shelves and covers of books? Whatever the case may be, I think we can figure out a positive side out of this point in a specific. It is a hidden admission. They realize that books are valuable to be read; however it is their mistake to neglects them. In other words, they are aware that books are important but the problem is that they do not read.

 

Reading for pleasure is a part of familiarizing what is not familiar because when you read for pleasure, it means that you will stick reading as much as possible since it is just a mere pleasure. You are not forced from outside factor to concentrate although you are forced mentally. Your mind is attracted with the text. If we say that there is a starting point from which one would adhere to reading, and we agree that the starting point should take place in one's pleasure, we understand how reading for pleasure is a process of familiarizing the activity of reading in general. Here, most of the students who read especially in the secondary school assert that they read for pleasure. The problem is that what if the topic is nonsense such as sports, wrestle and cars etc. such minor topics are the interests of the majority of those who read indeed because in the papers of the questionnaire, some students wrote that they read sport news although I did not ask them to do so. 

 

With respect to the university students, the situation is somehow different. That is why I delay to discuss about them. They are more rational and open-minded. Some students who were looking at reading as a boring habit in the earlier stages are now appreciating books. It is not just like that. They give each other books as gifts. It happened with me when one of my colleges gifted me a pack of books. That does not mean all students are like this. Absolutely, some of them do not read due to the lack of interest. However, most of the nonreaders blame themselves for not to read. While I am discussing an issue in a certain book with one of my friend in the cafeteria during the break, Omari, A. (2007) interrupts us by saying "you are doing something great, I do not read like you". What he said reveals the grief he feels within himself for not to read. Clearly, it reveals also that he magnify books and readers. He might one day force himself to read in order to satisfy himself at least. The following table illustrates various concepts with regard to reading and studying among the university students. The investigation was made in Al Imam University.

Table 3

 

Descriptive Statistics

Studying per day

79%

Studying for passing

80%

Studying for getting benefit

56%

The family encourages to study

5%

The teacher encourages to study

26%

Reading outside books

75%

Reading for pleasure

70%

Feeling forced when studying

92%

Reading in favored fields

100%

Reading from books

30%

Reading from news papers

74%

Reading from computers

41%

Visiting books fairs

94%

Reading the whole topic

56%

Jumping into specific places inside the topic

46%

 

 

 

         

 

 

 

 

 

         

          What really attracts me in this table is that the greatest majority of families do not encourage a student to study. Definitely, we cannot say that this is a kind of carelessness rather they are aware that a university student is self-dependant. He does not need outside instructors because he has his own inside instructions.

 

           Although reading outside books seems to be a normal habit for so many students in the universities, we do not praise or degrade that thing due to the kind of topics a student is interested in because what is the benefit from having a process of reading but in an absurd topic? This exact point should be taken in consideration. We must not glorify all kind of readings. In spite of the fact that all students read in the favored fields, it should not be taken positively. Suppose that there is a reader addict reading in a minor field such as sport, cars or mobiles. Is it logical to commend him for that? Or to stimulate him reading more books in that area? I do not think so unless the purpose of that reading is to accustom oneself to read.  

 

          Reading news papers are daily task for most of the students that I examined. In the news papers we cannot give definite judgment I think. There, we can find what is worth to be read and what is not worth to be even looked at.  Consequently, it is a dangerous sign to have most of our students just read the news papers.  Concerning, seeking benefits through studying, unfortunately, our schools failed in this matter with regard to the lower levels. Anyhow, in the advanced levels the tables prove that students are more conscious of that. This turns back also to the factor of age.

 

Solutions

          The above statistics, analysis and results prove that most of students lack a strategy for reading textbooks either for the sake of studying or just reading for the purpose of educating. Their haphazard way logically would cause abstention from reading. In the area of reading, experts always emphasize on the method of SQRW where a reader should follow four steps in his reading process. The first one is to survey what you already know about the topic. To survey a chapter, read the title, introduction, headings, and the summary or conclusion. Also, examine all visuals such as pictures, tables, maps, and read the caption that goes with each. By surveying a chapter, you will quickly learn what the chapter is about. As one of the human desire, curiosity should be used in a questions form. Use the words who, what, when, where, why, or how. For instance, before reading this research, ask why should a student read? Or say how can a student improve his reading? Then, read the information that follows each title to find the answer to each question you formed. When you do this, you may decide you need to change a question or reform it. The fourth step is more necessary for studying purposes although it is applicable for any kind of reading. Write each question and its answer in your notebook so that you satisfy your curious desire by answering the questions.

 

Conclusion

This research is concerned with studying and examining the existing state of reading among students. In the introduction, there is a brief survey on the importance of reading and its ideal position that it must take regardless of what is the case in reality. Some quotations are mentioned in the literature review for the sake of seeing what experts and specialists have said about this issue in order to have clear vision concerning this regard. In the methodology, I began with reasons behind neglecting reading in order to build original bases for the topic. Then I moved gradually to the core of this research which is the process of reading in the school. I mentioned also the effect of the environment upon this issue as one of the most important factors. To make things more practical and realistic I showed field statistics, analysis, investigation and results supported with discussions. One of the main reasons that cause abstention from reading is that students seem to deal haphazardly with reading. Most of the results end up with this fact indeed. To avoid leaving things opened, I end up this research with a practical solution divided into four steps. All these parts are upheld and supported by quotations, interview, statistics and discussion.

 

 

 

 

English References

August, G. (2006)  Behind Adult English Second Language Reading (P.264).

Almini, E. (2006)  Learning and Teaching English as A Foreign Language (P.6)

Stotsky, S. (2006) Why American Student Do Not Learn To read Very Well (P.10).

G, Sanstead. (2006) Content and Achievement Standards (P.2).

Alshrimi, K. (2006) personal contact.

Omari, A. (2007) personal contact.

 

المراجع العربية

المهندس. أ، (2007) ، مشكلة العزوف عن القراءة، جريدة الرياض.

هاشم. ن، (2003م) ، القراءة للجميع، جريدة الرياض.

الطيب، م. (1419هـ) ، فن القراءة، دار الأندلس،(ص، 26).

د. حبيب الله، م. (1421هـ) ،  أسس القراءة وفهم المقروء، دار عمار،(ص،156).

الشعلان، ر. (1424هـ) حبّ القراءة، دار المقرن،(ص،28).

هاشم. ن، (2003م) ، القراءة للجميع، جريدة الرياض.

د.عثمان، م. (2003م) ، التركيز والقراءة السليمة والنوم الكافي لزيادة التحصيل العلمي، جريدة الجزيرة.

 

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