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Reading and engagement
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Reading and engagement

Research 4 minute read

In order to learn, students need to have some level of engagement in their classroom activities, including engagement in reading, as Nicole Wernert explains.

The Progress in Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) measures the reading achievement of students in Year 4, as well as aspects of schooling relevant to learning to read. PIRLS in 2011 investigated students’ engagement in reading lessons and found that a third of Australian Year 4 students were engaged with reading lessons, but more than half were only somewhat engaged and more than a tenth were not engaged.

A student’s level of engagement in reading lessons was based on their level of agreement with seven statements:

  • I like what I read about in school.
  • My teacher gives me interesting things to read.
  • I know what my teacher expects me to do.
  • I think of things not related to the lesson.
  • My teacher is easy to understand.
  • I am interested in what my teacher says.
  • My teacher gives me interesting things to do.

Engagement matters

PIRLS found a positive relationship between students’ level of engagement during reading classes and higher average reading achievement in all participating countries.

In Australia, students who were engaged with reading scored significantly higher in reading than students who were somewhat engaged and both of these groups of students scored significantly higher than students who were not engaged.

Not surprisingly, students who like reading are more likely to be engaged in reading lessons – 54 per cent of students who like reading are engaged compared to only eight per cent of students who do not like reading. Likewise, students who are motivated to read are less likely to be not engaged in reading lessons – five per cent of motivated students are not engaged compared to 54 per cent of students who are not motivated.

Students who are confident with reading are more likely to be engaged in reading lessons – 46 per cent of confident students are engaged compared to 16 per cent of students who are not confident.

Gender matters

Aside from liking reading, being motivated and being confident, PIRLS found that girls are more likely than boys to be engaged in reading lessons. Only 26 per cent of Australian Year 4 boys were engaged in reading lessons. In contrast, 39 per cent of girls reported feeling engaged in reading lessons.

Girls achieved at a significantly higher level than boys in reading in Australia and in every other of the 59 participating countries except Colombia, Italy, France, Spain and Israel.

In Australia, 12 per cent of girls achieved at the advanced benchmark in reading, compared to eight per cent of boys, while at the opposite end of performance, 21 per cent of girls did not achieve the intermediate benchmark compared to 28 per cent of boys.

Read the full report:

How engaged are Australian Year 4 students in their reading lessons? by Nicole Wernert, is available at <  >

Further information:

For further snapshots from the Progress in Reading Literacy Study as well as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Programme for International Student Assessment, subscribe to < Snapshots: Global assessment // local impact >

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