Have you ever felt like getting students to complete their reading assignments is nearly impossible? If so, you are not alone. Although reading is essential to literacy development and content learning, student motivation to complete assignments can flag when their extracurricular time is full of activities and obligations. The long-term benefits of consistent reading are profound. Conversely, the negative effects of inconsistency are equally serious.
So how do educators convince students of the importance of completing their reading assignments? Candidates for a Master’s of Science in Education in Reading degree explore this important topic, as well as ways to address the decline in assignment completion and techniques for creating engaging assignments that foster a lifelong love of reading.
Why Reading Matters
Although reading is important to general learning, literacy development, and success in everyday life, there are additional benefits. Research has shown that regular reading helps develop students’ cognitive abilities. Students who read proficiently have an easier time absorbing and processing new information, which can improve learning across the curriculum.
Reading also fosters imagination, creativity and critical thought — engrossing narratives draw readers into complex and self-generated imagistic worlds. Developing strong reading skills and overall communication literacy can build self-confidence and sharpen social skills, leading to improved collaboration.
Well-designed reading assignments can support these lateral benefits by developing reading stamina and consistency with scaffolding difficulty levels and critical thinking prompts. Moreover, holding students accountable for their education beyond the classroom enriches student initiative and engagement. School and state achievement standards and content requirements can also strain the available time in the school day, making studying at home essential.
What Is at Stake?
Just as reading regularly offers clear benefits, skipping reading assignments can lead to a marked decrease in a student’s overall ability to read, participate in class and keep up with fast-moving curricula. Inconsistency in assignment completion can tend to snowball, causing the student to fall behind and making it very difficult to catch up. The long-term effects of this inconsistency can hinder a student’s success in a complex and literacy-focused world far beyond their school years.
To avoid this negative cycle, there are strategies teachers can use to make reading fun and engaging. Making reading relatable to both students’ lives and the topics of classroom study can create more integrated learning. Providing prompts, reading tools and strategies to help students improve their own reading and critical thinking can also be beneficial. Teachers who clearly communicate their expectations for consistent assignment completion (and how they plan to assess this) help students understand why their assignments are important both in class and at home. Teachers can also let students choose what they read whenever possible; this takes advantage of students’ personal interests to build motivation and engagement. Meaningful assignments can make all the difference in reading education.
Degree candidates in an online master’s degree in education in reading program can expect to explore these and other strategies for improving engagement. The ability to read and critically process information is more important than ever, and regular reading is the only way to actively develop this skill. By emphasizing consistency in reading assignment completion, teachers can bring about important changes in reading education and students’ lives.
Learn about A-State’s online MSE in Reading program.