Aliterate community college remedial students and their attitudes toward reading: a phenomenological examination

A survey of the literature on aliteracy demonstrates that it is considered a widespread problem in academia. Much of the literature provides specific examples of reading patterns and habits of college students without investigating students’ experiences and attitudes as non-readers. This study attempts to explore remedial students’ experiences and attitudes as non-readers, alliterates. The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the experience of remedial community college students who have declared that they do not read and their attitudes toward the reading they are assigned in their college courses. The researcher has attempted to define the relationship between the existing literature that defines aliteracy, the consequences of being a non-reader, and the data collected as part of this study which further analyzes the phenomenon of non-reading in a setting that has traditionally privileged reading as an essential part of becoming an educated human. To contextualize aliteracy, I reviewed the literature on literacy, aliteracy, remedial reading in colleges, and the after-college consequences of being a non-reader. Using an initial questionnaire to create a pool of self-identified non-readers, I then interviewed ten students using a set of open-ended questions to stimulate video-recorded conversations. Through the conversations, I built individual profiles of the students and looked for common experiences among the group. Among the most common findings, the participants said that they do not read because reading is boring; they cannot remember what they read; they do not understand what they read; and they do not have enough time to read. The conclusions drawn from the study are illustrated with transcribed excerpts from the interviews.