PSYC 355: Psychology of Reading

The study of the psychology of reading encompasses many aspects of human cognition: from sensation and perception to comprehension and reasoning. This class will provide an overview of research in the psychology of reading. Topics such as word recognition, eye movements during reading, comprehension, learning to read, methods of teaching reading, the brain and reading, reading in different languages, and reading impairments in children and adults will be covered. This course is a service-learning course. Students will be required to volunteer as reading tutors for two hours per week during the semester.

Click here to see more about Wesleyan’s Eye Movement and Reading Lab


Hartford Courant – Hartford, Conn.

They already spend 24 hours a week at Macdonough Elementary School, helping grade-schoolers decipher the mysteries of grammar and syntax.

Now a dozen Wesleyan University students are launching a book drive to further expand literary horizons at Macdonough.

The strategy is simple: If every Wesleyan student brought a new or gently used book back to school when returning from spring break on March 24, Macdonough students would have access to a rich selection of reading material.

“We noticed that while they do have classroom libraries, at an urban school like Macdonough resources are stretched a little thin,” said Barbara Juhasz, the assistant professor of psychology who oversees the Wesleyan effort.

Twelve of Juhasz’s students visit Macdonough twice a week to work with students in grades 1 through 5. They do a number of literacy-building exercises, including reading with the children.

Macdonough, like schools throughout the city and the state, is working to boost student achievement in the wake of disappointing reading scores on standardized tests.

Part of the problem, said Juhasz, is that many Macdonough students don’t have access to books that captivate them. “Research has shown that students need to have access to really interesting books” in order to get them to read, she said.

Macdonough students already receive a book every other Friday, thanks in part to a book drive conducted by the Keigwin Middle School student council.

“The kids were flabbergasted that they get to keep these books,” said Jennifer Cannata, who coordinates curriculum and instruction at the school. “They realize they can have a library of their own at home, that they don’t need to come to school to read books.”

After they’re finished, the students are encouraged to lend the book to a friend, sibling, cousin or neighbor, Cannata said. “The majority of these students might not have a great selection of books at home,” she said.

The Wesleyan effort will provide even more reading material for “Free Book Fridays.” Juhasz said she has no idea how many books will be donated, but she’s hoping for “tons and tons.”

Signs have been posted around campus and professors and staff members are encouraged to donate as well. The Wesleyan students have also launched a Facebook group in their effort to spread the word.

The emphasis on reading, and the drive to provide students with books they want to read, is already paying off, said Sarah Claffey, a fourth-grade teacher at Macdonough. “Every day, the kids come back from lunch and they’ll ask me, ‘Are we reading today?”‘

“If they’re exposed to the books they’re excited about, the interest level is huge,” Claffey said. “When it comes to reading, if they’re not interested in it, they’re not going to do it.”