Reading into reading week

Reading week is a time to catch up on sleep, friends and some school work. This fall is Laurier’s third and possibly final reading week concluded Oct. 14, 2016.

“Fall Reading week here at Laurier Brantford started in the 2014/2015 school year to address students’ personal wellness,” said Dean of Students, Adam Lawrence.

A stress-free time for fun, catching up with friends and enjoyment may now come to an end. Reading week was created as a three-year trial to assess the benefits that a break can have on students and faculty prior to midterms. Seeing as the fall reading week falls around the time of the Thanksgiving holiday, many students take the opportunity to visit family and refresh themselves for the first time since the beginning of the semester. Many universities across Ontario participate in a fall reading week including Brock University, Carleton University, McMaster University and York University.

Reading week gives students the time to prepare and focus on the material being taught in class. Lawrence finds that “the first six weeks of university can be a big change from what students were doing in the summer months: being able to go home and have that time to reflect and recharge is beneficial for the student body.”

This is especially true for first-year students who are just getting into their new schedule. Students experience a lot of stress within the first few months, and reading week allows students to look at their personal wellness and make sure their physical and mental health is still intact. First-year Business Management student Sarah Hwozdyk found it “a little difficult adjusting to life at Laurier” in Sept. and has dedicated her reading week to de-stressing and studying. Mental health has become a huge global topic, and reading week allows students the time to take things slow and not burdened with heavy workloads.

“Student feedback is a huge contributor to the continuation of a fall reading week,” said Lawrence.

The three-year trial was put in place by the academic planning committee to determine if reading week can help with personal wellness. So far, reports have shown that it has been a success. Lawrence finds that the committee has received a lot of positive feedback around the establishment of a fall reading week.

There are assessments made after each reading week by the academic planning committee, based on feedback by students. They assess if reading week is helping with stress, anxiety and wellness. They also look to see if reading week is causing more stress for students when they come back, and look into whether reading week is beneficial for the faculty on campus.

Dr. Erin Strahan, a strong supporter of the fall reading week, provides a psychologist’s and instructor’s perspective. “There is a lot of material needed to be covered prior to midterm exams, and by having that break students are able to really focus on studying.”

Strahan finds that reading week de-escalates stress by giving students a break. “Students are more likely to use their fall reading week effectively to manage their stress because they actually use it to study. Fall reading week is more effective for students than the winter break because they take advantage of having studying time rather than indulging in a vacation.”

Administration still needs to assess the benefits of reading week on faculty members, as well as the majority of the campus opinions. However, positive feedback is being received and assessments will continue to be made after this reading week to evaluate its overall success.

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