Friday, September 9, 2011

Textbook Reading Assignments

Question: Does this finding apply to you?

Reality: “Teachers use reading as a major source of learning by assigning textbooks, articles and library research, yet some students manage to get by in their courses reading little or nothing beyond their assignments, if that. Some instructors, frustrated in their efforts to get students to read, may resort to telling them what they need to know. Rieck (1977) has found teachers who inadvertently sabotage reading:

Out loud, these teachers are saying: ‘I require reading in the course. All students are to read the assignments. Students are to read X number of pages from the textbook.’ However, their non-verbal attitude said to the students: ‘You really don’t have to read the assignments because you aren’t tested on them and probably won’t have to discuss them. You should read X number of pages but there is no real reason to do so. Reading really isn’t important. Outside reading is of little value in this class. ‘ (p. 647).”

 Comment: I have been guilty of telling students, unintentionally, that all they need to know without reading the required assignments I will tell them. And I have experienced teachers at the college level who have done the same. Mea Culpa.

How to combat this tendency? Prepare students for the assignment. Give them a purpose for reading, a question to answer. Demonstrate how to survey chapters (title, sub-title, first paragraph, first sentence of middle paragraphs, last paragraph) and have them find their own purposes by raising their own questions to answer from reading the chapter. RayS.

Title: “Turtles, Blue-Footed Boobies, and a Community of Readers.” SR Clark. Journal of Reading (February 1991), pp. 380-383.

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