The Effect of an Elective Independent Reading Program on Reading Scores and Interest in Reading in the Ninth Grade at Kurtz Junior High School, Des Moines, Iowa
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The problem. What Americans will do with increased leisure time in the future is a problem already under investigation by sociologists and psychologists. Many young people in today's society do not enjoy reading books as a leisure time activity, possibly because of methods of teaching or treating reading in the schools today. Independent reading classes are an attempt to overcome resistance to reading. The purpose of this study was to determine what, if any, improvement in standardized reading scores occurred and to determine whether or not interest in reading for the sake of enjoyment increased in a ninth grade elective independent reading course at Kurtz Junior High School in Des Moines, Iowa. Procedure. Thirty-two members of the newly-created Independent Reading Class at Kurtz Junior High School were matched on a one-to-one basis on comprehension reading scores from the Gates-McGinnitie Reading Test given at the end of eighth grade, sex and age. A different form of the same test was given at the end of their ninth grade year as was an attitude-toward-reading opinionnaire. The attitude inventory was given to give reading teachers for item-ratings so that scores could be assigned and compared between experimental and control groups. Four sets of scores were used and t-tests using the mean difference ever the standard error of the mean difference determined the significance of the comparisons. Tables are included for interpretation. Findings. The study shows that even though significant differences at the .05 level of the probability distribution did not exist in reading ability over the 1974-1975 school year in the experimental/Independent Reading Class made significant gains in their own comprehension scores from the Gates-McGinnitie Pre and Post tests. The members of the independent reading class through written evaluations of the course expressed a positive attitude toward the class and their own reading. The warm relationships established on a one-to-one basis between the "teachers," students, and the books that they read seemed to warrent the existence and continuation of the course. Conclusions. The findings of this study, on an objective basis, do not prove that an independent reading class at the ninth grade level increases the reading ability or improves the attitude toward reading of the students enrolled any more than for students not enrolled. On a subjective basis, however, the ninth grade students who completed a school year in an Independent Reading Class voted unanimously that self-selection had played an important role in their reading development.
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