L1 Literature education: Quintessential or perhaps inconvenient for future engineers?

Submitted by: Jordi Casteleyn
Abstract: L1 teachers often encourage their students to read as much as possible, and many good reasons can be given to support this behavior. For instance, having read a lot of fiction during childhood and adolescence should have a positive impact on academic success in higher education (Mol & Bus, 2011). However, research studies that investigated this relationship usually recruited students from social sciences, and it is thus yet unknown if this positive impact of reading can also be retrieved for students from other faculties. In this respect, this paper addresses the following research question: regarding non-social sciences students, what is the impact of a history of reading dxon their academic results? 388 first-year civil engineering students from a major university in Flanders (Belgium) completed tests on word knowledge, activity preference (Stanovich, West, & Harrison, 1995), reading enjoyment (Mol & Jolles, 2011) and print exposure, i.e. having being exposed to fiction, or more specifically an Author Recognition Test (Mol & Bus, 2011) at the beginning of the academic year 2018-2019. It is widely acknowledged that word knowledge is strongly related to reading comprehension (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1997), and as a result a word knowledge test could be employed as a more feasible alternative to the more time-consuming reading comprehension tests. In addition to personal variables (such as age, gender, type of secondary education, first language, special needs), the test scores were linked to the students’ 1st term academic results from February 2019. We will examine the students’ academic results by conducting a GLM Univariate ANCOVA in which we enter word knowledge, reading motivation, and print exposure as the independent variables and the personal variables as covariates. This paper discusses the conclusions from this project and comments on the implications they have on the future of L1 literature education.


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Stanovich, K.E., West, R.F. & Harrison, M.R. (1995). Knowledge growth and maintenance across the life span: The role of print exposure. Developmental Psychology, 31, 811–826.