THE ROLE OF INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL FACTORS IN THE CULTIVATION OF LIFE-LONG READING HABITS OF TEENAGERS IN ACCRA

ABSTRACT
The inculcation and development of good reading habits amongst adults and children is fundamental to the realisation of quality education and improvement in literacy in Ghana and other African countries. A good reading habit, especially one that includes reading for pleasure, is an essential life skill. It does not only increase our knowledge; it also helps in our mental development, develops our maturity and character, sharpens our thinking skills and widens our consciousness in societal and worldly issues. The reading culture in Ghana is on the decline. The general lack of reading interests among Ghanaians is evident in our lifestyles. The advent of mobile phones and other technological devices have brought a more attractive mode of reading. However, these devices are used for other activities aside reading. It is against this background, that this study was founded. The study sought to find out the role internal factors such as oneself and external factors such as parents, peers, the school and modern devices play in the cultivation of life-long reading habits of tweenagers in Accra. The study reviewed literature relating to the general overview of pleasure reading, life-long reading habits and factors that influence life-long reading habits. The study was quantitative in design. Questionnaire was used to collect primary data from 187 tweenagers from three basic schools in Accra. Their ages ranged from ten (10) to thirteen (13) years, with a mean age of eleven point five (11.5) years. 28 questions were set to collect data from respondents. The results indicated the following: Tweenagers read for pleasure; they read for information and learning purposes rather than for recreational and relaxation purposes; parents of tweenagers are the main group of people who provide their reading materials but their teachers, the availability of a school library and their peers encourage them to read most. Tweenagers are also internally motivated to read. In sum, all the factors, that is, themselves, peers, parents, the school and modern devices play a significant role in shaping and influencing the cultivation and development of reading habits among tweenagers. It is recommended that, parents of tweenagers must spend time reading to and with their children from a tender age; tweenagers must be encouraged to discover the value and essence of reading for relaxation, recreation and enjoyment; teachers must be reading models to tweenagers; schools, the government and stakeholders must ensure that they provide libraries in schools and communities, furnish the libraries with books and make them accessible to tweenagers.


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
1.0 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Life-long reading habits have been defined by Yoke, Azman & Vasuthavan (2008) as reading habits that are engaged in and developed continuously throughout an individual‟s life because of the pleasure it brings to the reader. It may also be defined as reading habits cultivated by an individual, which does not only involve reading academic materials but also other materials that broaden, shape and add to the knowledge base of that individual. Such reading skills are important throughout an individual‟s lifespan, as it has been found to improve reading comprehension, writing style, vocabulary, spelling and grammatical development (Yoke, Azman & Vasuthavan, 2008). Reading is one of the most significant components of any language and it is a vital tool for life-long learning for all learners.

As we respond to new demands and lifestyle changes, reading for pleasure or recreation will go a long way to improve our comprehension, writing style, vocabulary, and grammatical development and provide a beneficial escape into the world of books. Chettri & Rout (2013) asserts that, reading protects people from loneliness – it is their window on life and an unending delight. It brings yesterday and tomorrow into now. They further add that, reading provides the experiences, through which individuals may expand their horizons of knowledge, identify, extend and intensify their interests and gain a deeper understanding of themselves, others and the world. Learning to read, improving and sustaining reading skills encompass a variety of interconnected components (Byrne, 2007). These include students‟ attitudes towards reading and motivation to read for enjoyment – leisure or pleasure. (Chamberlain, 2007).

Reading is the ability to understand words contained in a document and make use of that knowledge for personal growth and development (Dadzie, 2008). It is one of the three R‟s with which children start their education. The success and failure of their academic lives depend largely on their ability to read. Though reading may be regarded as a basic skill to be acquired by every learner, adequate efforts should be directed towards its development in children from infancy (Chettri & Rout, 2013).

Psychological studies have shown that improvement in the ability to read leads to improvement in learning ability as a whole, going far beyond mere reception. Good reading is a critical challenge with the write up and ideas of the author. At higher levels of education and with longer texts, the understanding of relationships, sentence construction or structure, and a good interpretation of the context, becomes more significant (Chettri & Rout, 2013).

A creative and rational education involves the habit of personal search or learning. This involves a lot of personal studying, thinking and analysis of anything that is read or studied. Personal study, which is learning or reading on one‟s own accord, requires a reading habit. Reading opens the door for a better understanding of an individual‟s own experiences, provides an exciting journey to self-discovery and broadens the individual‟s knowledge. Good reading habits are strong weapons, necessary for an individual to excel in life (Owusu-Acheaw & Larson, 2014).

In an article posted on Graphic Online on 24th September, 2015, Agyemang-Duah states that, the marks of a deteriorating reading culture are very obvious in the Ghanaian society. He further added that, these marks are evident through the following:

1.      The declining numbers of Ghanaians you literally find reading anything: from newspapers, newsletters, magazines to books.

2.      The habits of Ghanaians while they are idle, or waiting for a flight, train, bus etc. or how they use their time while on a long distance journey. Many will prefer to watch a movie or sleep instead of picking up something to read.
3.      The waning number of publishing houses, and well-stocked bookstores.
4.      The waning number of newspaper subscriptions  and readers.
5.      The stagnant number and use of public and community libraries outside academic institutions.
6.      The falling educational standards fairly due to the increasingly waning interest of students in reading beyond recommended course materials.

There is a common adage that says, “If you want to conceal your treasure away from an intruder, hide it in a book” (Agyemang-Duah, 2015). There is another version of this adage that says, “If you want to hide something from a Ghanaian or African, hide it in a book”. This is a sad notion and we as Ghanaians and Africans must take steps to change this perception about us if we really want to create a literate society.

According to Palani (2012), a reading habit is an essential and important feature in creating a literate society in this world. It shapes the personality of individuals and it helps them develop proper thinking methods, and creates new ideas.

New technological developments in the world today continue to affect the interest of tweenagers in reading books, magazines and journals, etc. It is therefore necessary that reading habits are instilled in children at an early age, as reading habits are best formed at young impressionable ages and once formed, can last one‟s life time (Green, 2001).

1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
A reading habit, especially one that includes reading for pleasure, is an essential life skill. It does not only increase our knowledge, it also helps in our mental development, develops our maturity and character, sharpens our thinking skills, and widens our consciousness in societal and worldly issues. Reading is an activity that involves greater levels of concentration and adds to the conversational skills of the reader. It enables the reader to constantly add to knowledge acquired and helps readers learn and decipher new words and phrases. This goes a long way to help them in their daily interactions and conversations with others. When developed into a habit, it can become an acceptable addiction which adds to the reader‟s knowledge on numerous topics and subject areas.

Reading involves more than just recognizing and pronouncing a few characters that are arranged in a particular manner. It is the ability to understand and perceive the meanings of the arrangements within the total context. Thus, readers have to be able to engage in critical and creative thinking in order to relate what they read to what they already know. The complexity of the reading process demands the reader's self-interest, motivation from parents, teachers and peers as well as challenges from modern devices in influencing their reading pattern. These internal and external factors are important in enabling the building of a reading culture in society. (Yoke, Azman, & Vasuthavan, 2008)

In recent times, the development of mobile phones, tablets and electronic reading devices has created a much simpler and attractive method for reading. However, “in an age when browsing the net, playing with funky handsets and passing non-stop SMSs seem to be the order of the day, reading a book in a peaceful corner of a library has become an archaic idea for most people. While technology is slowly taking a steady control over individual lives, the reading habit is fast vanishing into thin air” (The Hindu, 2004).

Studies have shown that in our examination oriented educational system, students do not read beyond reading to pass examinations or tests. The „chew-pour-pass-forget system‟ of learning does not help either, as students only learn or read what is necessary to score good grades on tests or examinations and there after forget all they have learnt. Knowledge passed on from lecturers or teachers does not go beyond end of semester or end of term examinations. Even though academic reading is the only reading students engage in, there still is a problem as students do not perform well in examinations.

In an article published on Graphic Online on 17th September, 2014, Inusah Mohammed, asserts that,

…the truth is that the Ghanaian student does not read! The Ghanaian student does not cherish books, the nutrients of a fertile brain. The Ghanaian student does not go beyond his notes. Creativity is stifled and innovation almost absent due to narrow dimensions of the mind of the Ghanaian student as a result of the lack of interest in reading. The old concept of ‘go to school, get good grades, and you will get a good job is the order of the day’. Students read only their course materials and have no incentive to excel.

Due to the lack of good reading habits among students, academic performance with respect to examination results has been dismal in recent times, creating a great source of worry and concern for all stakeholders in the educational sub-sector (Issa et al, 2012 as cited in Owusu-Acheaw & Larson, 2012).

This research therefore seeks to examine the roles internal and external factors such as one-self, peers, family, school, society and modern devices, play in the cultivation of life-long reading habits.

1.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Though reading has been proven to be an essential life skill by numerous researchers, it is taken for granted by most Ghanaians. Aside reading course materials and work related documents, most Ghanaians do not read. A lot of articles and a number of researches have been published to this effect (Mohammed, 2014; Owusu-Acheaw & Larson, 2012; Agyemang-Duah, 2015; Addo, 1964). This may be because the cultivation of reading habits, especially pleasure reading habits, has not been encouraged by stakeholders and players in our society.

The publishing industry in Ghana has been a challenging one, and the struggle to survive in this market of a non-reading people, has been tough. With the poor reading culture in Ghana, the falling of the quality of education and our lifestyles, the market for books in Ghana has been quite bleak (Sakyi, 2012). As a result, most publishers have focused on business survival and market research has led them into academic and scholarly publications. A few publishers have created a niche in religious publications considering the rising number of religious following in this country. However, a clear majority concentrate their resources on producing text books and supplementary readers since that market is sure and has a lower risk of loss than other types of publications. As such, few to none among publishers in Ghana publish materials for pleasure reading. The culture of reading story books and other materials that has nothing to do with school and work is practically nonexistent and the little that exists is dying slowly.

A random question posed to students of the Department of Publishing Studies of KNUST showed that most of the pleasure reading materials students claimed to have read were actually books that are used as course materials and not books they bought and read on their own volition. In order for our society and we as Ghanaians to move towards becoming a literate society, reading habits, especially reading for pleasure must be encouraged. Against this background, the objectives of this research are as follows:

1.                    To investigate  the pleasure reading habits of tweenagers in Accra.

2.                    To examine the roles that individuals themselves, parents, school and modern devices play in the cultivation of life-long reading habits.

3.                    To identify the factors that will motivate tweenagers to be more interested in reading.

1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.                  What pleasure reading habits do tweenagers in Accra have?

2.                  What roles do individuals themselves, parents, school and modern devices play in the cultivation of life-long reading habits?

3.                  What factors that will motivate  tweenagers to be more interested in reading?

1.4 JUSTIFICATION AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
As this research is an academic exercise, the results will add to the body knowledge in the area of reading for pleasure, creating life-long reading habits and will provide further insight into the pattern of reading behaviour among tweenagers in Accra. It will also help to increase awareness on the current situation as well as inform all the players involved in inculcating and motivating reading habits among people in Ghana. Though this research was small-scaled, it will be very significant in the framework for instilling and promoting life-long reading habits among Ghanaians, including people at all levels of academia and from various backgrounds. After all, it is the young child reader who grows to be the well-read, well-informed, skillful, knowledgeable teacher, doctor, lawyer, mechanic, driver, accountant and worker in the country. As the slogan of the Ghana Book Publishers Association goes, “a reading nation is a winning nation”, so if tweenagers read, they will remain readers in their adulthood and this will benefit the country in the long run.

1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This research covers only tweenagers from three basic schools in Accra. Their ages ranged from ten (10) years to thirteen (13) years with the mean age of eleven and half (11.5) years.

1.6 DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS
READING:   A complex cognitive process of decoding symbols in order to construct or derive meaning.

LIFE-LONG READING: The act of any reading an extensive variety of books and publications is primarily for enjoyment.

FACTOR:     Anything that contributes  causally to an outcome

INTERNAL FACTOR:       Reactions  individuals  create  inside  themselves  in response to a

phenomenon.

EXTERNAL FACTOR: Circumstances or situations outside the individual that he or she has little or no control over.

TWEENAGERS: Children who are approaching or are in early teenage years. That is, ages ten (10) – thirteen (13).

CULTIVATION : The process of socialisation through training and education to develop an individual‟s mind or manners.


1.7       ORGANISATION OF WORK
This research work contains five chapters. The details of these chapters have been outlined below.

1.7.1    CHAPTER ONE
This chapter is the foundation of the entire project work. It provides enough information for anyone who wants to know what the project is about, what necessitated it and its importance to academia and other stake holders. In this chapter, the area of the study is introduced, the statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research questions, significance of the study, scope of the study, definition of key terms and the structure of the study are also spelt out.

1.7.2    CHAPTER TWO
This chapter is dedicated to reviewing related literature and other scholarly works that have been written on reading habits and the factors that affect the life-long cultivation of reading habits. It provides a general overview of reading, reading habits, the factors that affect life-long reading habits, and reading habits among Africans. It also provides background information about Bloom‟s Taxonomy of Affective Domain, the theoretical framework used in this study. Newspapers, reports, magazines, journals from the various sources such as Research Reading Quarterly, ERIC, Taylor and Francis, and many other works of a cerebral nature were consulted.

1.7.3    CHAPTER THREE
In this chapter, the methods of data collection and data analysis are discussed and broken down. The methods chosen are stated and justified. This chapter also outlines and discusses the research process, design, population, sample size, data collection methods, and data analysis.

1.7.4    CHAPTER FOUR
This chapter is dedicated to data collection and analysis. Findings are stated and discussed. It is therefore the application of the methods for data collection and analysis stated in chapter three.

1.7.5    CHAPTER FIVE
In this chapter, inferences are made based on the results from the data collected, and conclusions and recommendations will be made for the consideration of all stakeholders.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Project Material  |  Attribute: 87 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: GH50  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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