10/12/2019 BARCELONA

Reading habits: How often do students read for enjoyment?

According to PISA, better readers tend to read more because they are more motivated to read, which, in turn, leads to improved vocabulary and comprehension skills. The last PISA reading assessment reveals that 37% of 15-years-old across OECD countries does not read for pleasure, though.


The PISA report

The every three years report of Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is the only international education survey to measure the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds (an age at which students in most countries are nearing the end of their compulsory time in school). The report is coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and measures student performance in reading, mathematics and science literacy and also asks students about their motivations, beliefs about themselves and learning strategies. Countries/economies interested in participating must have technical expertise necessary to administer an international assessment and must be able to meet the fully costs of participation.

According to PISA, students cannot learn everything they need to know in school. Young people need not only knowledge and skills, but also an awareness of why and how they learn. These are some of the results about student engagement, strategies and practices. On average, 37% of students across the OECD countries did not read for enjoyment. 30% of students across the OECD area reported reading for 30 minutes or less per day, 17% read for more than 30 minutes but less than one hour per day and 16% read for more than one hour daily. Greece is the only OECD country where more than 10% of students read for enjoyment for longer than two hours on a daily basis. More than 90% of students in the partner countries and economies Kazakhstan, Albania, Shanghai-China and Thailand said that they read for enjoyment.

PISA suggests that students who read a wide variety of material who perform particularly well in reading. Compared with not reading for enjoyment at all, reading fiction for enjoyment appears to be positively associated with higher scores in the PISA 2009 reading assessment, while reading comic books is associated with little improvement in reading proficiency in some countries, and with lower overall reading performance in other countries. Also, students who are extensively engaged in online reading activities, such as reading e-mails, chatting on line, reading news online, using an on line dictionary or encyclopaedia, participating in online group discussions and searching for information online, are generally more proficient readers than students who do little online reading.

Girls read more for enjoyment than boys in all countries and economies, except for Korea. According to SPISA, the frequency of reading for enjoyment is 21 percentage points higher for girls than for boys, on average across the OECD countries. And the difference in the number of girls and boys who read for enjoyment is 25 percentage points or larger in Italy, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Portugal, Slovenia, Poland, Estonia, the Netherlands and the partner countries Uruguay, Latvia and Lithuania.

The gender gap in whether boys and girls read for enjoyment is widening: between 2000 and 2009, both boys and girls lost interest in reading, but the decrease in the number of boys reading for enjoyment was greater than that in the number of girls.

In Korea, boys and girls are equally likely to read for enjoyment, and gender differences in reading for enjoyment are also relatively small in Japan and the partner countries and economies Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Peru, Shanghai-China, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Hong Kong-China, Indonesia, Albania and Thailand.

Cross-country differences

According to PISA, cross-country differences in whether, and for how long, students reported reading for enjoyment may be due to differences in the extent to which various traditions and cultures value reading, in the opportunities students have to read outside of school, the extent to which students find reading an enjoyable activity and the materials students can access in their free time. Given the fact that reading habits are self-reported by participating students, such differences could also stem partly from how much students in different countries over- or under-report their reading habits.

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Anna Martinez Codina

Igualada (Barcelona). Licenciada en Administración y Dirección de Empresas (UAB) y máster en Relaciones Internacionales (IBEI), con especialización en Economía Política del Desarrollo y Paz y Seguridad Internacional. Debido a trabajo o estudios he vivido en lugares como Italia, Irlanda, Senegal o Bélgica, dónde resido actualmente.



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