An Analysis of the Effects of Reading Habits on the Academic Performance of Science Students in Nigeria

1.1   Background of the Study

Research on the correlation between reading habit and students academic achievement in science subjects has for long received attention from scholars and educational agencies. For instance, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 1994 conducted a study to find out the relationship between reading habits and academic performance of the students. Findings of the reading revealed a positive correlation between reading habit and academic achievement. Similarly, Onwuegbuzie (2001) conducted a series of studied to find out the relationship between academic success and reading habit and reported positive relationship between the two variables.

            However, studies of school achievement indicate that most students are under achievers. (Dizney, 2003, Okegbile, 20070 and Adetunji  and Oladeji, 2007). A major reason for students’ under-developed potentialities may be in their lack of learning strategies. Emily and Betty (2004) posit that it is not an infrequent occurrence that students, who spend inordinate amounts of time memorizing reading materials, are still barely getting by. To them, the student’s personal, emotional, and social development may suffer from the pressures created by the use of relatively inefficient learning strategies.

            Reading habits are learning tendencies that enable students to work privately. Azikiwe (1998) describes the reading habit as “the adopted way and manner a student plans his private readings, after classroom learning so as to attain mastery of the subject”. According to her, “good reading habits are good assets to learners because they (habits) assist students to attain mastery in areas of specialization and consequent excellent performance, while opposite constitute constraints to learning and achievement leading to failure”.

            Good (1998) define the term reading habits as: The student’s way of reading whether systematic, efficient or inefficient etc”. Going by this definition it literally means that good reading habit produces positive academic performance while inefficient reading habit leads to academic failure.

            In Nigeria, there are so many factors influencing the ability of students to cultivate effective and efficient reading habit. Ozmert (2005) emphasized the importance of environmental influence as a major factor in the development of students reading habit. In the same vein, Adetunji and Oladeji (2007) submit that the environment of most children is not conducive for reading; it is in the light of this that made some parents to prefer their children to go to boarding school for proper discipline and to inculcate better reading habit.

            According to Hussain (2006) science students in secondary schools often come from economically poor and average income families. These families face various problems causing emotional disturbance among their children. They have poor academic performance. This singular factor has caused serious damage to the achievement status to secondary school students.

            Achievement is generally a pedagogical terminology used while determining learners’ success in formal education and which is measured through reports examinations, researches, and ratings with numerous factors of variables exerting influence. Essentially, the National Policy on education (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004) has identified school achievement contents according to school subjects which are classified as core or elective subjects.

            Although studies abound on the causative and predictive nature of factors of reading habit on students academic achievement, all factors of the variables tend to focus on poor reading habit while the effect is yet to be fully accessed on the nations educational development.

1.2         Statement of the problem

Due to the increasing nature of poor academic performance of secondary school students especially in science subjects in external examinations like WAEC or JAMB, many educationists tend to shift the blame on the teaching methodology adopted by the teachers and lack of fund from the government to provide quality textbooks. However, these might not be the main reasons why students perform poorly in examinations. It is clear from all indications that most secondary school students have poor reading habit which might lead to poor academic performance.

            As true as this might sound, it is yet to gather adequate research evidence to prove that it is a key factor on why students fail.

1.3              Purpose of the Study

The primary aim of this study was to examine the effect of reading habit on students’ academic performance. This general aim is expressed in the following specific objectives which are to:

1.       Assess the reading habit of  science students in secondary school;

2.       Compare the academic performance of students who have developed a reading habit and those who do not have reading habit;

3.       Examine factors influencing students reading habit;

4.       Investigate the effect of reading habit on student’s academic performance in science subjects.

1.4              Research Question

The following questions were raised to guide the reading:

1.       Is there any relationship between students reading habit and academic performance?

2.       What is the nature of relationship between students reading habit and their family background?

3.       How important is method of reading on academic performance of students?

4.       Does the school environment, student personality and peer group affect the reading habit of students?

1.5              Research Hypotheses

Four hypotheses were formulated based on the research questions:

H01: There is no significant relationship between students reading habit and academic performance.

H02: There is no significant relationship between students reading habit and their family background.

H03: There is no significant relationship between method of reading and academic performance of students.

H04: There is no significant relationship between the school environment, student personality and peer group and the reading habit of students.

1.6              Significance of the Reading

This study will be used to many people who may want to know the factors that could make or mar student’s academic performance in science subjects. Therefore, the reading is significant in this regard.

●      It attempts to combine reading skills with reading habit and how they both affect academic performance of students.

●      It will provide valuable information about the effects of poor reading habit on the academic performance of students.

●      It will serve as resource materials for others who want to carry out research in related field.

1.7              Scope/Delimitation of the Reading

This study centers on effects of reading habit on academic performance of students in Agege Local Government area of Lagos State. It is aimed at all secondary school students in Agege Local Government area of Lagos State but due to time, money and other factors it will be limited to only five schools in Agege Local Government area of Lagos State .


Operational Definition of terms

Reading habit: This is a behaviour style that is systematically formed by students towards learning and achievement.

Reading skills: These are peculiar strategies developed by the students in reading.

Academic: This has been variously defined but for the purpose of this reading, Hornby (1991) define academic has that which has to do with school college studies or learning in other words designate the intellectual; aspect of education particularly the final subject deals with organized knowledge.

Academic performance: This refers to the performance that falls within specified standard. The specified standard is usually called pass mark and the pass mark is score above average which students are considered having passed and below which students are considered having failed.

Student: A person who is learning or reading at a place of higher or further education.

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