As we have written throughout this semester, many challenges that students encounter with writing stem from difficulties with reading. These difficulties range across disciplines, but each discipline might face its own set of challenges. The problem many faculty in the sciences experience, writes Laura Davies in her article on teaching reading in science courses, is that often “students regard scientific texts as collections of facts.” Thus, Davies says, students engage articles purely for content and can overlook how that content engages in broader disciplinary conversations and practices, which are often critical for entering into a disciplinary community. So, how do we help students read for more than facts?
Earlier in the semester, we shared some resources that focused on using annotations and other strategies to support reading. The general intent of these strategies is to prompt students to engage more deeply and mindfully with their reading. In our post on “mindful reading,” we mentioned that effective readers often read for specific purposes that shape the way they engage the texts they are reading. For instance, if readers want to gain a general understanding of a text, they might skim it by noting the title, reading the introduction and conclusion, and browsing the main sections. But what if we have a different purpose? What if we are engaging a text not for its content but for its structure?
Earlier in the semester, we shared a few resources to support the ways in which faculty teach reading in (writing-intensive) courses. While literacy scholars and reading teachers suggest a variety of useful strategies to help students engage with their reading more deeply, one of the most commonly offered recommendations urges faculty to talk and model productive reading practices. That is why today we are sharing an article that does just that: interviews scientists about their reading practices.
Since we are still feeling inspired by the Stearns Center’s fantastic conference and its theme of “Small Changes, Big Impact,” we thought that we’d share a few more ways to support reading in the writing classroom. This week, however, we are offering a more complete resource with a series of useful reading strategies that we can teach to our students.
In our last post, we highlighted the need for faculty to think more intentionally about the ways in which they support student reading, particularly in college writing courses. This might sound like it requires large-scale changes in teaching, but it doesn’t have to: we can start small. In fact, the theme of this year’s Innovations in Teaching and Learning (ITL) Conference should help us realize that: “Small Changes, Big Impact.” With that theme in mind and the conference just two days away(!), we thought that we would share a small change that can help us better support our students’ engagement with reading.
As writing instructors, we talk a lot about writing and how to teach writing. The fact is that WAC programs emphasize the value of teaching writing for both the learning and professionalization of our students. But this emphasis can often overshadow the value of reading, much to our and our students’ detriments.