Is the students’ lack of enthusiasm
for reading a fact of life or can we
do something about it?
SALT Conference 2013 (#sus...
27.4% students do the class reading ?
(Starcher & Proffitt 2011:396)
63% feel they don’t read enough ?
(Barnett et al 2012...
“there is no one solution...an effective approach
will require us to develop course pedagogy
that will attack multiple rea...
How I used the slides...
The slide deck was printed for a round table
discussion on encouraging academic reading
at our Le...
Reading
Ability
“One student took three
hours...another
skimmed the text for
the main points in 20
minutes”
(Kirkness & Ne...
Reading Ability
• Explicitly teach reading strategies
– How to skim / scan / analyse (Artis 2008 suggests the
SQ3R method)...
Lack of Time
“I try to squeeze in time
when I don’t have
lectures labs or
work, which is not often”
(Student quote from Ba...
Lack of time?
• Help students prioritize
– Annotated reading lists: “a triaged reading list
should contain fewer, carefull...
Not knowing
what is
expected
“We can no longer assume
that students arrive at
university knowing what
to read and knowing ...
Knowing what to expect
• “Explain explicitly to students how the
documents that they must read relate directly
to the aims...
Boredom
“A brutally boring overwad”
(Student describing textbook, Jolliffe & Harl
2008:611)
Academic reading viewed with
“...
Boredom
• Carrots
– Easy & interesting early readings
– Preview the reading in class & pique their interest
(Hobson 2004:6...
Perceived poor
“return on
investment”
“I have found that you don’t
need to read many of
these books to do well in
the subj...
“ROI”
• Formal assessment
– Reading Diaries (Wynne 2006) = “it encouraged students to read
widely by rewarding them for it...
Subject
differences
“I do engineering so have
very little reading”
(Student quote in Barnett et al 2012:46)
“I think readi...
Subject Differences
• Encourage reading for
– Employability
– Further research
• “Good Reads” e.g. Bradshaw & Richardson
2...
Language
“What is different is not
the amount of
reading, but the level
and wording of the
text”
(Student quote from Jolli...
Language
“All university programmes need to consider the
language demands of their texts in the light of
vocabulary levels...
Digital Lives
“I find carrying round an
iPad much easier than
carrying around books”
(Student quote from Nagy 2012:28)
“Ma...
Digital Lives
• Two sides of the coin:
– Students read less as distracted by the internet
– Students read more as readings...
Credits
Images used under Creative Commons licence
with thanks : Janine, Clio20, Bramstone
Photography, Enokson, Shermeee,...
This work by Sam Oakley, Swansea University is
licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0...
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Is the students’ lack of enthusiasm for reading a fact of life or can we do something about it?

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Materials used for the Swansea University SALT Conference 2013 Round Table session. The aim was to stimulate debate on student reading and how to encourage it. We had a packed, lively session - hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did!

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Is the students’ lack of enthusiasm for reading a fact of life or can we do something about it?

  1. 1. Is the students’ lack of enthusiasm for reading a fact of life or can we do something about it? SALT Conference 2013 (#susalt), Round Table Session, Swansea University Sam Oakley, ISS, Swansea University s.l.c.oakley@swansea.ac.uk Additional research by Susan Glen
  2. 2. 27.4% students do the class reading ? (Starcher & Proffitt 2011:396) 63% feel they don’t read enough ? (Barnett et al 2012:15) “Reading is still at the heart of a university education but the content, style, media and setting for it are in flux” (Garfield 2008, Conclusion)
  3. 3. “there is no one solution...an effective approach will require us to develop course pedagogy that will attack multiple reasons for lack of preparation simultaneously” (Starcher & Proffitt 2011:405)
  4. 4. How I used the slides... The slide deck was printed for a round table discussion on encouraging academic reading at our Learning & Teaching conference. It was created to stimulate debate: one side of each sheet suggested a reason for students not reading, the reverse had suggestions or case studies for tackling that problem.
  5. 5. Reading Ability “One student took three hours...another skimmed the text for the main points in 20 minutes” (Kirkness & Neil 2009:10) “I made the mistake of randomly calling on students to read aloud from their textbooks...this actually caused embarrassment and angered many students” (Artis 2008:134)
  6. 6. Reading Ability • Explicitly teach reading strategies – How to skim / scan / analyse (Artis 2008 suggests the SQ3R method) – Read out a short passage in class & “think aloud” to show how you make connections & process ideas • Scaffolding with easier texts initially • Peer Support: – 1st year Geography reading group mentored by 2nd years: “This was by far the most productive thing I have done in my first year at Uni” (student quote, Goodman 2008) – Pair or group reading tasks (share out readings)
  7. 7. Lack of Time “I try to squeeze in time when I don’t have lectures labs or work, which is not often” (Student quote from Barnett et al 2012:48) “If lecturers want students to read things (particularly extra reading for lectures or seminars) they need to make it MUCH easier and less time consuming for us to locate” (Student quote from Nagy 2012:19)
  8. 8. Lack of time? • Help students prioritize – Annotated reading lists: “a triaged reading list should contain fewer, carefully chosen selections, thereby reducing student perception of a Herculean workload” (Hobson 2004:4) – Explicit guidance on how to use them: Advising students on prioritizing reading lists” video case study (Fisher 2007) • Easier access to the readings – Links to electronic versions (iFind Reading) – Scan print chapters / articles (ISS Doc Supply)
  9. 9. Not knowing what is expected “We can no longer assume that students arrive at university knowing what to read and knowing what standards are required of the material that they do read.” (Tara Brabazon in Frean 2008) “it’s like being thrown into a swimming pool with lead boots on and no life saving device” (Student quote from Siddall, MacLellan & Rose 2009:1)
  10. 10. Knowing what to expect • “Explain explicitly to students how the documents that they must read relate directly to the aims and methods of learning...show clearly how the students’ reading for the course should be manifest in projects and examinations, and demonstrate specifically how students should read the course material” (Jolliffe & Hurl 2008:614) • “Two minutes with a book” to introduce appropriate texts
  11. 11. Boredom “A brutally boring overwad” (Student describing textbook, Jolliffe & Harl 2008:611) Academic reading viewed with “dislike or ambivalence by the majority” (Gallagher-Brett 2006:25) “the change from reading for pleasure to reading academically was one of the principal challenges facing students...requiring more effective management of transition” (Gallagher-Brett 2006:25)
  12. 12. Boredom • Carrots – Easy & interesting early readings – Preview the reading in class & pique their interest (Hobson 2004:6) – Some Profs say: ditch the readings. “Current texts are poorly written and are thus of questionable value”(Starcher & Proffitt 2011: 403) • Sticks – Assessment (“return on investment”) – “this level of scholarship is non-negotiable and must be visible in the bibliography” (Brabazon 2007:34, requiring 10 items from supplied readings)
  13. 13. Perceived poor “return on investment” “I have found that you don’t need to read many of these books to do well in the subject” (Student quote from Barnett et al 2012:53) “*Students have+ very much a means-end approach” (Stokes & Martin 2008:119) “Driving factors for academic reading were coursework and assessment, revision and examinations” (Barnett et al 2012:2)
  14. 14. “ROI” • Formal assessment – Reading Diaries (Wynne 2006) = “it encouraged students to read widely by rewarding them for it, even if that reading was not directly used in an essay” – Exams include material only found in readings – Brabazon 2007:30-49 = reading from list was “non-negotiable” (and graded) • Increasing compliance – Quizzes / tests on reading before or in class (Hobson 2004:6) – Set specific questions / feedback needed when assign reading (Starcher & Proffitt 2011:399) – Student presentations on reading in class (Harvie & Philp 2006) – Reward those who do the reading...or you become ‘a piece of the compliance problems’ (Starcher & Proffitt 2011:398)
  15. 15. Subject differences “I do engineering so have very little reading” (Student quote in Barnett et al 2012:46) “I think reading is overrated (at least in Physics). I’m more the ‘try it out in the lab’ kind of person...Writing my literature review was the most painful experience so far in my PhD” (Student quote in Nagy 2012:16)
  16. 16. Subject Differences • Encourage reading for – Employability – Further research • “Good Reads” e.g. Bradshaw & Richardson 2012 for 1st year Maths students – “I’m shocked that I have never been so hooked by a book in all my life! In the twenty one years up until I started university I managed to avoid reading a book.” (Student quote) – Tutors saw a “notable improvement in use of reference material in final year work”
  17. 17. Language “What is different is not the amount of reading, but the level and wording of the text” (Student quote from Jolliffe & Harl 2008:609) “One undergraduate from Greece described reading her text over 30 times in order to be able to answer examination questions” (The HEA, n.d.)
  18. 18. Language “All university programmes need to consider the language demands of their texts in the light of vocabulary levels of an increasingly diverse student body” (Kirkness & Neil 2009:4) • Academic Language – Guidance / glossary for academic vocabulary – Easier texts initially to introduce vocab (scaffolding) • English reading ability – Differentiate reading levels on reading lists – Electronic texts easier to scan / search – Length of readings
  19. 19. Digital Lives “I find carrying round an iPad much easier than carrying around books” (Student quote from Nagy 2012:28) “Many will start their research with Google and expect booklists to include links that take them straight to the recommended text” (Swain 2006)
  20. 20. Digital Lives • Two sides of the coin: – Students read less as distracted by the internet – Students read more as readings are easier to find & access • “Information overload caused by the wealth of available electronic resources” (Secker 2004) • Build on the digital skills and devices that students already have?
  21. 21. Credits Images used under Creative Commons licence with thanks : Janine, Clio20, Bramstone Photography, Enokson, Shermeee, leg0fenris, Marco Bellucci on Flickr Bibliography at: http://goo.gl/uPxK2
  22. 22. This work by Sam Oakley, Swansea University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please let me know if you find this useful or have any feedback: s.l.c.oakley@swansea.ac.uk

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