This study was designed to compare the reading habits of the Theology and Management students of St. Paul’s University College Awka. The objectives of this study were to determine the demographic attributes of the reading habits of students of the two Faculties in St. Paul’s University College, Awka; to examine the attitudes of students in the two faculties towards academic and voluntary reading; the time the students of the two faculties spend on both academic and voluntary reading; the types of materials the students of the two faculties enjoy reading; the reading materials the students of the two faculties find relevant to their course of study and determine the factors students perceive as influencing their reading habits. Six research questions were posed to compare the attitudes of the students towards academic reading and voluntary reading and to examine factors that influence the reading habits of students. The research method used was comparative research survey design. A sample size of 497 of the Management and Theology Students was drawn using the proportional stratified sample technique; representing 10% population (213) from the Faculty of Management except in Theology where the entire population of 284 was used because it is the only department in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Questionnaire on the Comparative Study of the Reading Habits of Students was the instrument used for data collection. 213 copies of questionnaire were distributed to the students of Management and 213 (100%) were returned. While 284 copies were distributed to the students of Theology and 254 (89.4%) were returned. Data collected were analyzed using percentages, and mean scores calculated and presented on tables. Based on the analysis of data, the following findings emerged: Parental educational background of students assists the reading habits of students; students engage in academic reading because it helps them to excel in their studies; students prefer reading materials that are related to their course of studies to unrelated ones; students are interested in reading for their examination more than reading other things; students spend more time in academic reading than in voluntary reading. Furthermore, lack of conducive reading environment, access to books, equipped library and family background were found to be factors that influence the reading habits of students. It thereby recommended the encouragement of students to spend more time on both academic and voluntary reading; the provision of relevant materials for students in all Faculties, discouragement from reading only for examination purpose and improved funding for equipping the institutional libraries, with required reading resources.
Background of the Study
A University College is an affiliate of a University. The term University College is used in a number of countries to denote college institutions that provide education but do not have full or independent university status. It is usually a part of a bigger university. University College can refer to institutions that offer college diplomas and undergraduate degrees. Therefore, the title ‘University College’ is extensively used by institutions that do not have full University status, but are protected by law to offer degree certificates through the universities they are affiliated to. Some University Colleges can be either public institutions or private owned institutions that are affiliated to full autonomous government approved universities. (Wikipedia, 2011). In line with the above concept of a University College, Merriam-Webster (2011) explained that it is a college attached to or affiliated with a University. It lacks the right to confer its own degrees and for this purpose is attached to, but physically separate from a University
The above is the same case with some University Colleges in Nigeria of which St. Paul’s University College which is affiliated to the University of Nigeria Nsukka is one of them. However, it is a private Anglican owned University College. It has authority to award diplomas but does not have authority to independently award degree to students.
The term student refers to one who learns and studies, an attentive and systematic observer. A student is a learner or someone who attends an educational institution. Portsmouth ( 2012) also explained the concept of a student as any person taking a course at a prescribed educational establishment or institution. The institution can be a polytechnic, college or a university and includes: a person on a full time course and a person on a part-time qualifying course of studies. In support of all the above terms, Registrar (2012) further explained that a student is any individual who is or has been in attendance at a higher institution and regarding whom the institution maintains education records. A student can be in attendance in person or by correspondence.
In line with the above, the students of St. Paul’s University College consist of students from the two Faculties of the University College; these students takes courses on full time to be awarded degree or diploma certificate at the end of a four year degree programme or a three/two year diploma programme respectively. The University College has two faculties: The first is the Faculty of Social Sciences with only the department of Religion offering the following programmes:
- 3 – year BA degree programme in Religion
- 4 – year degree programme in Religion
- 2 – year diploma programme in Religion and
- 3 – year Ordination Diploma in Theology programme for candidates nominated by their Bishops.
- Programmes (1) to (3) above are offered in affiliation with the University of Nigeria Nsukka. Programme (4) above is offered directly by the College.
The second faculty is the Faculty of Management Sciences with four departments which offer only 4 – year degree programmes in Accountancy, Business Administration, Banking/ Finance and Marketing (St. Paul’s University College, 2001).
The present age is the age of communication with reading as one of the major avenues of acquiring rich ideas and ideals. Reading is an essential instrument for daily life and an indispensable factor in modern life; it presents the most illuminating and varied records of human experience. Reading is not an occasional activity; it is an activity that helps to develop the mind and the personality of human beings.
It is pertinent to note that reading influences the success of an individual both in school and out of school. One cannot be an educated person or an informed citizen without cultivating the desire or the habit of reading; which prepares an individual for a life long learning activity (Krashen, 1993). Reading is a process of communication through which most learning take place. It is the gate-way to the acquisition and development of educational skills taught in schools; hence reading habit facilitates the acquisition of knowledge and literacy. When a person acquires the skill of reading, he/she gradually acquires proficiency in seeking information. This is because according to Adigun (2003:77) ‘‘information literacy can be achieved or fulfilled if there is a lasting reading habit that goes beyond mere reading to pass in school’’. If information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning which, makes the act of reading not just an act to pass examination, reading then becomes an enjoyable act that is desirable and interesting. A learner who develops the act of independent reading develops a reading culture and a good habit that enables one to search through information sources and to locate relevant information.
There are different types of reading; these include voluntary reading, recreational reading and academic reading. Voluntary reading is also known as free reading; it is free reading, because readers like students and lecturers determine what they want to read without external persuasion or force. (McQuiliam,1996). The purpose of voluntary reading is not for any specific assignment or examination, the students decide when, where, what and how to read. Recreational reading is related to voluntary reading, it is reading for pleasure during the relaxation period. It is the students’ major source of reading competence, acquisition of vocabulary, and ability to handle complex grammatical constructions, because according to Krashen (2003) voluntary and recreational readings are also seen as extensive reading because students and other readers decide the amount of reading to do and the type of materials to read.
On the other hand, academic reading is an intensive reading process where students have to read and learn the selected readings that their lecturers feel will change them to grow intellectually. In academic reading students are faced with the challenge of struggling to comprehend the academic jargon or technical terminology within their own academic discipline or course of study. The students read to understand some of the fundamental knowledge of their courses and to share in the highly specialized background of the academic discipline or course of study (Rosenberg, 2009).
Habit according to http//dictionary.reference.com/browse/habit (2011) is an acquired behavioural pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary and occurs automatically. The habit of reading can become a regular pattern to be acquired by students who want to cultivate the habit of reading. When reading becomes a habit or part of a students’ behavioural pattern it builds up confidence so that whenever a student is faced with any task, it can be confidently handled through the knowledge gained as a result of reading various information resources. Habit of reading can go a long way to improve the memory of students as they are required to be remembering what they have read in their different subject areas. Moreover, a student who makes reading a habit will improve his/her focus and concentration in handling any task perfectly; this task includes reading, studying and preparing for examination.
The Federal Government of Nigeria in her National Policy of Education (Nigeria, 2004) as a way out of these family background educational challenges asserts that libraries are one of the most important educational services for the nation. Libraries promote the development of reading skills and encourage long learning habits through reading, listening to and viewing a variety of learning materials which form the key to continuous success in school. Library increases the students’ chances of success in their subsequent educational or professional pursuit. Therefore, the educational objective cannot be realized without the establishment of libraries right from the primary, to the secondary, and to the tertiary level.
Furthermore, library helps in achieving the aims and objectives of tertiary education through the provision of stimulating reading materials. The National Policy on Education (2004) states that the institutions of higher learning should pursue these aims through teaching, research, the dissemination of existing and new information and the pursuit of service to the community; which can be done through the library.
In line with the above policy, St. Paul’s University College Library was established in 1992 to support and facilitate the teaching, learning, research and recreational activities of the University College Community. The library inherited the collection of the former Teacher Training College, Library Awka. The collection expounded to Arts, Social and Management Sciences; by the frantic effort of the University College Management to stock the library with vital and relevant materials..
The University College Library is divided into three (3) departments: 1.Technical Services Department which consists of Cataloguing Section, Acquisition Section, Serials Section and Bindery /Reprographic Section. 2. Public/Readers Services Department which comprises of Reference and Circulation Sections. 3. Information Technology Department which has an ICT Section that will provide electronic library services, maintenance of computer hardware and software, internet operations, maintenance and use of audio-visuals.
A major challenge that students may be facing in developing proper reading habits is the students’ course of study. Course of study involves the various disciplines students undertake. The courses involve instruction which is the basic activity of studying and learning in order to acquire information, belief, knowledge and skill as they participate in the instruction (Clark, 1972). Over the years, it has been observed through the library records of the institution under study that students’ courses of study may be influencing their attitude to reading. For instance, students of theology appear to have more positive attitude to reading and using the library to read than the management students. This may be because of the exposure they have in their different course of study. It is against this background that this study attempts to compare the influence of course of study on the reading habits of the Theology and Management students of St. Paul’s University College, Awka.
St. Paul’s University College, Awka started its Theological/Religious studies in October, 1992 while the faculty of Management Science started in October, 1999 in affiliation with the University of Nigeria Nsukka. It offers degree programmes as well as diploma and certificate programmes. The institution has a big library that meets the information needs and reading needs of the students in the two faculties; that is the Faculty of Management Sciences and Faculty of Social Sciences. The students of the Faculty of Social Sciences study Theology and Religion, while those of the Faculty of Management Sciences study Accountancy, Business Administration, Banking/Finance and Marketing.
Under the Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Religion the courses are organized in such a way that students can concentrate in the Biblical field covering both Old and New Testament exegesis. Students can also concentrate on the social aspects of Religion and the problems of men in the society. They take relevant courses along that line offered by the department, and are also allowed to take additional courses.
(University of Nigerian Calendar,2009). The philosophy and objectives of the Department of Theology are to acquaint students with the principal content of the major religious traditions locally, nationally and internationally. The students on graduation will be equipped to be ordained as priests, serve as teachers in the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions as well as public relations and cultural officers (University of Nigeria Calendar, 2009)
Under the Faculty of Management Sciences, the courses of the four departments examined are: Accountancy, Banking/Finance, Management and Marketing.
Accountancy aims at preparing students who will graduate and be in the position to carry out the duties and responsibilities of Accountants in Government and other establishments. (University of Nigeria Calendar, 2009). Banking and Finance inculcates in students the ability to identify, analyze and offer solutions to complex financial problems. Management as a course provides basic knowledge for students to understand and analyze problems related to management or administration of industrial, business, commercial, public and private organizations. The course helps the students acquire leadership skills, human relations, analytical, evaluative, synthetic and communicative skills needed for managing human organizations. (University of Nigeria Calendar, 2009) The last course of study to consider is Marketing. It provides students with both theoretical and practical knowledge with which to face the challenges of the competitive economy. Emphasis is placed on self-reliance and self-empowerment to enable the students contributes to national development and professional career. The emphasis is on education and training in General Marketing Research, Advertising, Public Relation and Transportation. (University of Nigeria Calendar, 2009).
The study concentrates on St. Paul’s University College, Awka because it has students from two contrasting courses of study. The students of Theology are all male students who are being prepared for ordination; some of them are for diploma programmes and others for degree programmes. The students of Management on the other hand, are made up of female and male students as in every conventional university. They are all for degree programmes. The goals and aspirations of the two groups of students are likely to differ; hence, there may be differences in their different attitudes and dispositions to reading. Their reading needs span from reading for their academics purposes to recreational reading for spiritual upliftment and pleasure. The attitudes of the two groups towards reading are significant because they are expected to enable them achieve their different goals and aspirations. If a study is carried out on the comparative study of the reading habits of these two groups of students, it would throw more insight into their different attitudes and offer strategies for the improvement of reading habits.