Brockport professors, including retired Kendall teacher, publish research on graduate students’ reading completion

Staff Reports Posted 7 February 2022 at 9:08 am

Students read 81% of material, but less likely to read digital articles online

BROCKPORT – Linda Rak with colleagues Dr. Kathleen Olmstead, Dr. Jie Zhang, and Dr. Carole Pelttari, from The College at Brockport SUNY New York, recently published research on graduate students’ reading completion in the Brock Education Journal, Ontario Canada.

Linda Rak

This is a journal of educational practice and research. Rak engaged in action research with 434 students enrolled in 28 graduate-level Literacy classes over nine years.

The purpose of the study was to better understand students’ reading completion and factors that impact their ability to complete assignments. The researchers conducted a retrospective study, shared the results and discussed recommendations for Literacy instructors for course improvement.

Rak, a Lyndonville resident, is an Adjunct Professor Emeritus at Brockport. She is also retired as a Reading Specialist and Language Arts Coordinator from the Kendall Central School District.  Analysis of the results revealed that of the 434 participants who responded to the survey, 386 students reported a mean of 81.2% of the total quantity read for the class which included both assigned paper texts and online articles.

It was gratifying to find out that this study had a higher level of reading compliance than other studies reviewed by the researchers, the professors said.

One reason that impeded reading completion was some students found it difficult to read digital articles online. Anecdotal data revealed other factors that impacted the amount of reading completed which included:

  • A project connected to the reading assignment increased accountability.
  • If the content of the material had direct application to classroom teaching, it was of high interest and easier to complete.
  • An excessive amount of reading assigned made it difficult to compete all of the reading.
  • Time was a factor in reading completion. All participants were graduate students working on a Master’s Degree in Literacy Education. They were employed as full-time teachers, substitute teachers or in other jobs. Some had families with corresponding responsibilities.
  • Personal problems and stressful life situations were less common yet still were important factors in influencing reading completion.

A practical aspect of this action research was that the results were used to improve instructional practices by the instructors. Mini-projects of high interest were developed to promote deeper comprehension.

Online videos were assigned to replace some reading assignments. Collaborative discussion boards allowed students to interact with each other about the reading assignments online prior to class.

When these techniques were applied, class discussions became livelier, Rak said. Learning improves when reading completion is a shared responsibility between students and instructors.