A: Probably not as much or as effectively as you’d like them to.
Academic reading is actually quite a difficult skill for many students. The texts aren’t scintillating, the writing itself can be dense and impenetrable, and the sheer quantity of reading required is formidable. On top of that, many students think that every word must be read and understood, resulting in very slow progress. Word. by. word. Sentence. by. sentence.
The impact of this approach/aversion to reading? Ultimately, a failure to learn if they are not encountering, understanding, and assimilating diverse and critical facts, ideas, concepts, opinions, theories, and approaches.
How can you help students read more and read better?
By explicitly explaining how to read effectively:
- in lectures or announcements (I have some ready-made!)
- or with these videos:
- Becoming a critical reader https://youtu.be/M6gYMrj6NGA
- Reading resilience https://youtu.be/wijJB-yHcgQ
- Making great notes https://youtu.be/CN8ZrRXAECA
By scaffolding their reading with questions, prompts, explanations, and direct instruction:
- give them a selection of three texts and have them decide quickly, based on the title, abstract, introduction, conclusion, and diagrams, which would be the most relevant for a particular assessment topic
- tell them what you expect them to get out of a particular article and how long it should take them to read it
- identify the parts to be skimmed over and the parts to be read closely
- require them to share, debate, or post the main idea/s or the most interesting/debatable/contradictory/life-changing point made
- compare student summaries in note form, mind maps, tables, and images OR share your own notes, mind maps, etc. with blank spaces that they must complete
- ask them to identify a professional application of the ideas in the text
- partners devise three questions provoked by the text that are relevant to the subject, discipline, or profession; evaluate the responses given by another pair to their questions
- divide the set of (ten?) useful class readings between students and require students to post a clear summary of their own reading – one in-depth reading gets them an overview of nine additional texts and many perspectives
- students evaluate readings based on the authors’ credibility, the research methodology, or the use of evidence to support assertions; identify and debate their rating on a class scale
By directing them to ALLaN services for reading support.
What’s your reward? More engaged, informed, and better-performing students.