Students and Reading

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 horses“You can’t lead a horse to water, but you can salt his oats so he’s damned thirsty when he gets there.”

I’ve heard from many faculty who lament that their students just don’t do the reading. If we put aside the exorbitant cost of some textbooks, why are students not reading and what can faculty do about it?

For some students reading is work, not pleasure. When many students read it is only so deep (let’s say the first two level of Bloom’s Taxonomy – knowledge and comprehension). Moving from who and what to why and how are difficult steps particularly with heavy texts. Even if they can give you back what the reading said, it is far from any kind of interpretation. And honestly, if they just wait long enough odds are you’ll tell them anyway. Will the text tell them something that you won’t? Does it introduce material of just reinforce it? Students are figuring this out in the first few days of class and/or asking former students if they really need the textbook.

Make reading count by counting it. For every reading there should be a quiz, report, or some kind of assessment. Try open book or group work quizzes (additional information).  Be sure to dedicate some time to discuss the reading too. Try the jigsaw cooperative learning technique, have students formulate test questions, guided reciprocal peer questions, or have them collaborate on a concept map.

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