29 April 2017

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Research by Stiftung Lesen

Comparative study evaluating reading media clubs

Comparative study evaluating reading media clubs

Places of Integration – in Germany and Israel

Reading Media Clubs support the acquisition of reading competence

The Jerusalem Book Fair in late February 2011 provided the framework for presenting research findings from the bi-national model project “Reading Media Clubs in Germany and Israel”. The main result was that these institutions, providing an interface between school education and leisure time, do not only support children and young people – particularly those from less educated families – with opportunities for acquiring reading and media competencies; they moreover support integration in a comprehensive way.

Carefully equipped rooms offer a broad scope of media
Reading Media Clubs were invented in Israel and they have been further developed, for instance in Germany. Recently, the clubs have been put to the test for two years in both Germany and Israel. Reading Media Clubs are especially carefully equipped rooms in schools offering a rich variety of media: As an interface between instructional and leisure-time settings, they are meant to inspire a joy of reading in children and promote language and media competencies. The clubs are monitored by trained teachers and extracurricular staff. The practical success of this concept in both countries as well as their increased effects through regular bi-national exchanges between the clubs were demonstrated in a survey presented at an expert meeting at the Jerusalem Book Fair in late February 2011. Over a period of two years, the model project “Reading Media Clubs in Germany and Israel” was jointly conducted by “Stiftung Lesen” (German Reading Foundation) and the Center for Educational Technology (CET) in Tel Aviv. The institution, equipment and organisation of Reading Media Clubs and a differentiated evaluation study were financially supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

A media education project with a history
Project manager Karen Ihm from “Stiftung Lesen” explained that a media education project with a history in its own right was thus taken into perspective. Reading Media Clubs were first founded 30 years ago to deliver educational impetus particularly to children from less educated and immigrant backgrounds. Ever since, the Clubs have supported many media innovations, e.g. regarding the domain of children and youth literature. Ihm: “Close contacts between the respective institutions in Germany and Israel illustrate that reading promotion can spark bi-national cultural exchanges.”

A Positive Account
Dr. Simone Ehmig, Head of the Institute for Reading and Media Research at “Stiftung Lesen”, responsible for the survey, drew a positive account of the project and pointed out its many facets: “Reading Media Clubs do not only have a measurable positive influence on the reading competencies of children from less educated backgrounds. They moreover provide children from immigrant families with a safe and motivating space for acquiring language competence. They are places of integration – both in Germany and Israel.”

Results of scientific assessment
The Institute for Reading and Media Research of Stiftung Lesen continually monitors the developments of reading media clubs in Israli and German schools across two school years. The scientific assessment takes a systematic account of how the individual clubs put the concept into practice. The study focused on the individual development of club members, their reading competency and joy of reading, reading and media behavior, motivation to learn and aspects of personal development and social conduct.

The evaluation began with the onset of the clubs in Germany and Israel in the summer of 2008, spanning two academic years until summer 2010. For the assessment, standardised quantitative (questionnaire-based interviews of club managers and members) and qualitative procedures (observation of club sessions, group discussions and telephone-based guided talks with club managers) were combined. Club managers kept a so-called “club diary“ to record each club meeting. These diaries were systematically assessed, providing information about activities and thematic priorities in the clubs. In addition, club managers were asked to assess and keep track of the reading competencies as well as individual and social characteristics of each club member from summer 2009 onward (polarity profile). Measurements were conducted anonymously. However, a special procedure assured that without disclosing the children’s names to the evaluators, changes of, for instance, reading competencies and motivation in terms of the clubs’ effects, were assessed at an individual level.

Offerings provided by the reading media clubs can have immediate, isolated, short-term, mid-term and long-term effects. For instance, an immediate effect can mean that a child is so immersed in an afternoon’s activities in a club that he or she does not want to go home. Short-term effects emerge after a couple of days or weeks: for instance, children who are generally shy might gain such confidence that after a short period of attendance to club meetings, they are willing to read out aloud to the group. Mid-term effects are demonstrated across a period of several months or a school year, e.g. the increase of the club members’ enjoyment of reading at a significant, constant level. Long-term effects will be effective over a number of years or decades. For instance, such effects might be demonstrated by (former) club members who read more often and more intensively than a comparable group of adults who did not attend such a club. The evaluation conducted in reading media clubs in German and Israel permits a diagnosis of immediate, short-term and mid-term effects but due to the limited period that was investigated, long-term effects cannot be determined.

Findings from the scientific monitoring show that the concept of reading media clubs works independent of national borders. There is evidence that the clubs have positive short- and mid-term effects on reading competency and reading motivation, as well as bearing a positive impact on the motivation to learn and thus perhaps on academic success, personal development and social conduct. Not all effects are equally observable in all areas, and all target groups – such expectations would probable not be met. In sum, however, the individual findings demonstrate that particularly in environments that are more distant from education and thus more distant from reading, reading media clubs and their holistic approach contribute to shaping the educational pathways of children and young g people in a positive way, offering them alternative perspectives on reading and media use than what they normally encounter in the home or school environment. The numerous effects that are already observable after a short period of time give reason to assume that reading media clubs also impact upon those students who only attend them for short periods of time.