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Teachers experience problems with promoting reading

18 January 2023

Promoting reading is important, but some primary school teachers are not particularly positive about it, or they feel that they have too few opportunities to stimulate reading. This is the conclusion drawn by Marlon Ruwette's PhD research. Teachers consider promoting non-fiction more useful, but they find fiction more fun, more morally necessary, and easier to do. Ruwette will be awarded a PhD by the University of Groningen on 26 January.

Dutch pupils do not have a very positive reading attitude and read little, both at school and at home. It also appears that new generations have an even less positive attitude and read even less than the previous generations, and that pupils read less and less as they get older. Because of this 'reading apathy', it is important to find out how to improve both the quality and quantity of reading. Marlon Ruwette carried out a study among 194 teachers and 994 pupils from grades 7 and 8 to find out, among other things, to what extent primary school teachers implement activities that promote reading and which classroom and teacher variables are associated with this. She also looked at how teachers distinguish between promoting the reading of fiction and non-fiction.

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Dutch pupils do not have a very positive reading attitude and read little, both at school and at home.

Too little time or knowledge

Although Dutch grade 7 and 8 teachers are, on average, quite positive about promoting reading in the classroom, it appears that some teachers are not positive about it and do not do it. Ruwette: ‘About five per cent do not have a positive attitude. And 20 per cent say they do not have enough time or knowledge to recommend appropriate texts to students or state that they do not have the required materials.' Additionally, Ruwette shows that the relationship between intention and behaviour is minor: teachers are more likely to intend to do something than to act on their intentions.

A preference for non-fiction

Teachers also distinguish between promoting reading fiction and non-fiction. 'They believe promoting non-fiction is more useful, but they perceive fiction as more fun, more morally necessary, and easier to do. They also intend to promote reading fiction more than non-fiction,' says Ruwette. Also, pupils perceive reading fiction and non-fiction as different things.

Advice

Based on the difference found between enjoying fiction and non-fiction, Ruwette advises teachers to pay attention to fiction texts as well as to non-fiction texts. 'Differentiating between these types of reading materials and giving attention to both types of text can make a difference to the enjoyment of reading in different types of students.' Ruwette believes that there is also a task for teacher training programmes. 'Convincing teachers of the moral imperative to promote reading seems most promising. It also seems promising to find ways to increase teachers' enjoyment in promoting reading in the classroom.'

Last modified:18 January 2023 09.25 a.m.
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