Study: Many first-year uni students do not read

National 2 minutes, 3 seconds


MANY first-year university students do not have reading habits, preferring to chat and play their mobile phones instead, a study found.

Dr Christine Jothy Raju, dean of Centre for Communication, Teaching and Learning at Institut Teknologi Brunei (ITB), said there was a “reading reluctance” in the group of students involved in her study.

The research, which took place for three years starting 2010, found that it was challenging to get students to read books for leisure.

“The habit of reading is not the norm. Students would rather chat or play on their mobile phones. Even reading online is fine but if the habit is not there, it may hamper efforts to create a knowledge economy,” she said.

Dr Raju was one of the speakers at ITB’s Professional Communication for Business, Engineering and Technology Conference yesterday, along with her co-researcher, Sanda Kumari Chandran.

Delivering a topic on ‘Cultivating Extensive Reading among University Undergraduates’, she said primary schools should play a bigger role in cultivating reading habits.

Dr Raju said primary schools should be conducive to ensure the habit of reading maintains later in life.

From her experience of teaching in Australia, she said awareness and a constant reminder on the importance of reading is required to make sure the habit continues.

“In university, we cannot afford the time or even allocate it. I advocate primary schools to do that and from there we can drive the younger generations to read,” said Dr Raju.

The dean added that a continuous effort is required in schools and suggested reading to take place five times a week with about 20 minutes per session.

“The teacher should read with the students. They can keep a book in their drawer and the students can read as well. This way, so many books would have been read,” she said.

She said parents’ role is just as important but noted that not all families can afford the kind of environment conducive for reading.

Different economic situations may play a role, hence the importance of schools in providing such an environment, she added.

“If schools do not put good books to read, just how many of us are actually privileged to come from an environment where parents read and can afford books?

“Parents are indeed role models but if you come to school and do not see a system in place to cultivate reading, that takes away from developing the habit,” added Dr Raju.

The Brunei Times