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dc.contributor.advisorDavis, Lloyd Spenser
dc.contributor.authorHarnett, Michelle
dc.identifier.citationHarnett, M. (2013). The Online Reading Habits of New Zealand Intermediate School Students and the Significance of Web-Based Fiction (Thesis, Master of Science Communication). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractLevels of interest in reading, mathematics and science have all been observed to decline in the late childhood and early teenage, or middle school years world wide. Being literate in all three areas is regarded as essential for success in later life. Special emphasis is often put on reading as it underpins learning in all areas. Recreational reading in particular is more strongly associated with academic success and positive social behaviours than reading for academic purposes. While the existing literature is a good starting point for investigating children and teenagers’ general reading, their recreational reading is less well studied. Current research is also struggling to keep up with the shift from reading print to electronic texts and the devices electronic texts are read on. An improved understanding of middle school students and their interactions with electronic texts might be used to maintain their motivation to read. This work describes a preliminary investigation into the online or electronic reading habits of New Zealand middle school students, asking if they read electronic texts recreationally, including web-based fiction. I surveyed the online activities of high decile New Zealand Year 7 and 8 students and found that 75% students were online at least four days a week. Both boys and girls reported engaging in the activities surveyed with similar frequencies, including online gaming. The reported ownership of smartphones and tablet computers, either by the students, or someone in their household, was higher than the average ownership levels in New Zealand. Boys tended to be more likely to own, or to live with someone who owned, a tablet computer. 40% of the students reported they read online at least once a week. Although boys and girls were equally likely to read online, girls were significantly more likely to read magazine, blogs and stories. 30% of the respondents reported they read stories online, The survey emphasised how little is known about the online reading habits and behaviours of middle school students, including identifying who the online readers are, what they are reading about, how they find the electronic texts they read, when and how long they are spending on various activities and what devices they are reading on. Recommendations for further research are made. The sort of online fiction that might appeal to middle school students is also considered. A web-based serial, with young teenage protagonists was published online. The experimental narrative attracted an increasing number of readers over the time it was live, and visitors returned repeatedly to read the tri-weekly instalments.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectNew Zealand
dc.subjectmiddle school
dc.subjectmiddle grade
dc.subjectweb based
dc.subjectCry of the Huia
dc.titleThe Online Reading Habits of New Zealand Intermediate School Students and the Significance of Web-Based Fiction
dc.language.rfc3066en for Science Communication of Science Communication of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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