Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Topic: Are Students Ready to Read in college?

10-second review: A study in The Chronicle of Higher Education said that 45% of college teachers and only 15% of high school teachers believed that incoming students are not prepared to comprehend college level reading material.

Title: “Bridging the Pedagogical Gap: Interactions Between Literacy and Reading Theories in Secondary and Post-Secondary Literacy Instruction.” LS Eckert. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (October 2008), 110-118. A publication of the International Reading Association (IRA).

Summary: Suggests that the gap in perception between college teachers and high school teachers regarding comprehension can be overcome by teaching reading strategies to high school students. However, the author’s “strategy” is “miscue Analysis,” a study of students’ individual reading characteristics.

Comment: The idea of teaching reading strategies is good, but the suggested strategy appears to me to be irrelevant. Teachers at the college level are interested in only one thing—students can understand and interpret the assigned reading. Here are the strategies that would have been most useful to me in college:

Previewing nonfiction books, including textbooks. Read first and last paragraphs of each chapter, raising questions and then reading the first sentence of each intermediate paragraph in each chapter.

Previewing textbook chapters. Read the title, subtitles, first paragraph, first sentence of each intermediate paragraph, last paragraph, raise questions, read to answer the questions.

Previewing and maintaining interest in novels. Read for five minutes in the beginning, middle, three-fourths through and near the end; raise questions. Then read to answer the questions. When losing interest in the novel, read a paragraph a page until interest is reignited.

Previewing short stories. Read one sentence per column or page; read one paragraph per column or page; read the first paragraph, first sentence of each paragraph and last paragraph. Raise questions. Read to answer the questions.

Taking notes, the Walter Pauk (Cornell U.) way: Divide page into three parts, 2” column on left, 3 ½” in the middle, 2” on the right. At the bottom, leave about an inch of blank space. In the middle part, take notes. After taking notes, review by writing the question answered in the notes in the left-hand column and write key words from the notes in the right-hand column. At the bottom, summarize the page of notes.

That’s what I consider to be strategies for reading and taking notes in college. RayS.

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