DEVELOPING BOYS’ READING COMPREHENSION SKILLS WITH INTERESTING READING MATERIAL
University of Turku (FINLAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:According to the EU high-level group of experts on literacy EU needs to find new, more effective methods to improve the literacy skills of its citizens. Especially too many boys lack basic reading skills. In some EU countries half of male 15-year-olds have so poor reading skills that they will have great difficulties in functioning in today’s society. Several studies have shown that boys’ and girls’ different skills are strongly associated with their different attitudes towards reading.
The first part of the study aimed to explore what kind of reading material and exercises could motivate boys to read. We constructed a questionnaire to measure children’s opinions. 563 first and second graders took part in the study. The results show that already during the first school years girls have significantly more positive reading attitudes than boys. The boys had most negative attitudes towards reading fairytales, doing homework and exercise book tasks. However, they had high confidence in their reading skills.
The second part of the study investigated how well boys in sixth grade comprehend texts in their history textbook and comics. The results show that the girls understood history book text significantly better than the boys. The boys understood comics significantly better than history book text. Because the comic text and the tasks related to it were as difficult as the history book text and tasks, an explanation for this may be that this genre of literature was familiar to them already from the early years of their life. In addition, in the classes it was easy to notice that especially the boys were excited about the tasks related to the comic book. This was something they were not usually allowed to do during the literacy lessons.
To motivate all students to read, schools need diverse reading materials. Textbooks of today do not interest all students. As the development of reading ability is closely linked to extensive engaged reading it is crucial to improve boys’ reading engagement. Boys should value reading and have reasons to use it in a meaningful way.
Keywords: Boys, reading attitudes, reading comprehension.