Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Does Accelerated Reader promote altruism?

Stephen Krashen

Accelerated reader (AR) is a reading management program in which students take quizzes on what they have read, and are awarded prizes for the points they earn on the quizzes.

Despite the failure of research to demonstrate that AR) promotes literacy development (Krashen, 2003, 2005) and the negative attitudes many students have about AR (Smith and Westberg, 2011), there may be one redeeming feature: Smith and Westberg (2011) interviewed children from grades 3-8 who were participating in AR programs; among their comments was were these:

“A Grade 5 student said, ‘We take quizzes for each other sometimes if we really need to get our points in. We know each other’s pin numbers so we can help each other out.’ Other children commented that it was common for students to take a quiz and then write down as many questions as they could remember and then tell friends what questions they needed to know.” (pp. 4-5).

AR thus appears to encourage the emergence of clever strategies that allow students to help their classmates with no benefit to themselves. In fact, helping their friends in this way places students at personal risk.

This behavior is not only altruistic; it reveals a very high form of selflessness.

Krashen, S. 2003. The (lack of) experimental evidence supporting the use of accelerated reader. Journal of Children’s Literature 29 (2): 9, 16-30. (Available at www.sdkrashen.com)
Krashen, S. 2005. Accelerated reader: Evidence still lacking. Knowledge Quest 33(3): 48-49.
Smith, A., and Westberg, K. 2011. Student attitudes toward accelerated reader: “Thanks for asking!” Current Issues in Education, 14 (2): 1-6. http://cie.asu.edu/ojs/index.php/cieatasu/article/view/632

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I see that among my students, though if the librarian catches them performing such altruistic deeds, they will regret the decision. Most of my students learn early in the year not to mention the word AR anywhere within my hearing. I have actually taken one of my books out of a kid's hands if he/she claims to be only reading it for the points. I will give you a book that will change your life, but I will not give you a book for points.