Tuesday, June 28, 2011


It can sometimes frustrate college teachers when they realize that their students don't read well (who am I kidding--it confounds and frustrates a lot of us!).  Students have most likely been given instruction on active reading either in high school or during a composition course; however, it may not be habit for them and students may not be accomplished at or confident about college-level reading. 

There are strategies to encourage students and offer help. Articles from the Teaching Professor Blog can help you decide on an approach.  "How Students Read Textbooks" discusses a study on the "sink or skim" methods used by most students--who either "sink" the knowledge by careful reading or "skim" their texts, often the day of or the day after a lecture.  Assessments designed to hold students accountable for careful reading vary from assigning journals to given a "just in time" quiz before class (see the article on reading quizzes: "More on Students and Reading").

As for whether it makes a difference if the text is print or e-book, the active reading strategies may vary.  Consider the reading support provided in many e-books (often they come with glossaries, linked indexes, and dictionaries).  However, before you throw away a student's option to read a print text, you might want to consult the following article: "Another study points to advantages of printed textbooks."   The study by the University of California Libraries cites the advantages of e-books (including e-highlighting, annotation, and downloading options), yet shows that print books have other advantages in terms of deep learning.  Readers will move to print copies for "reading, note taking, text comparison, and deep study" (see the May 2011 study).  This preference is shown more by students in the arts and humanities (the same group that scores highest in writing and critical thinking, according to the authors of Academically Adrift).   What is most interesting is the reported preference for print-on-demand options for textbooks. 

So, as you plan for courses next year, consider how to integrate reading into your courses--and how to encourage your students to adopt deep reading strategies!

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