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Lee, "A cross-cultural validation of the reading hypothesis: The relationship of pleasure reading to writing proficiency and academic achievement among Taiwanese senior high school students," 1995

USC Dissertation in Education.
August 26, 2009

Sy-Ying Lee, Ph.D.

Abstract (Summary)
This study investigated the hypothesis that pleasure reading, frequency of leisure writing, and writing apprehension influence Taiwanese senior high school students' writing proficiency and school achievement. It was also hypothesized that students' involvement of pleasure reading was strongly affected by their home environment, indicated by parental encouragement, availability of reading materials, and parental education.

A pilot study involving 192 college students was conducted prior to the present study. Results showed that for the adult students in Taiwan, leisure writing was a stronger predictor of writing proficiency than pleasure reading. This result was possibly due to a ceiling effect in that older students might have developed such a high command of writing that additional reading had no additional impact. Second, the instrument used in the pilot study did not precisely assess how much subjects read and wrote. Third, the writing measure, the composition score for the Joint College Entrance Examination, required a more academic style of writing. Thus, more writing might be a reflection of seriousness of academic performance.

On the basis of the pilot study, the present study was more fine-tuned toward both the research design and theoretical framework. Three hundred and eighteen Taiwanese senior high school students were randomly selected from three senior high schools in the city of Taipei. A theoretical model was proposed to represent the causal relationships among the variables in the present study. A self-designed questionnaire was used to probe the amount of students' leisure reading and writing, and their home environment. A writing apprehension scale, developed by Daly and Miller (1975a), was employed to see whether students' writing ability and academic achievement were influenced by their writing anxiety. In addition, an author recognition test and a magazine recognition test were used, inspired by the work of Stanovich and West (1989), in order to (1) probe reading behavior and (2) to prevent the potential effect of social desirability yielded from the survey questionnaire. The structural equation modeling using LISREL VII (Joreskog & Sorbom, 1989) was chosen to assess the proposed model.

The results of this study showed that only pleasure reading significantly impacted students' writing ability, and students' involvement of pleasure reading was strongly associated with their home environment. Neither the frequency of leisure writing nor writing apprehension influenced students' writing ability and academic performance. However, it was found that the more pleasure reading done by the subjects, the less anxiety they felt about writing, which in turn influenced their frequency of leisure writing. The study also suggested that those who did more pleasure reading wrote more in their leisure time.

Finally, implications and suggestions for research, measurement, and instructions are presented.

Advisor: Krashen, Stephen