I joined the campus Task Force on General Education this year, and this semester we're working on improving the reading skills of our students. Every week a task force member is sending an email to faculty and adjuncts with a different tip. Our chair Nancy Caldwell was nice enough to ask me to send Tip # 1, and here is what I sent today:
Tip #1 to Improve Reading Comprehension: Help your students understand the texts that you use in your classes.
Good readers know how to read textbooks. We skim first and review headings, look at charts and graphs, and glance at pictures to give us an idea of what we’re about to read. But struggling readers forget this step and end up reading, re-reading, or just not even trying to read the assignment. Some of our students were taught the SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recall, Review) method in grade school, but they probably don’t even think about it in your class now. To simplify this process, you can discuss this reading strategy in even simpler terms:
I help students in the library who think they must read the ENTIRE article to see if it supports their research argument, instead of surveying the article first for hints. Several times I have reminded students to read the abstract and article headings first and then jump to the relevant section. Or use Control+F to find a specific word that they are looking for in the article.
While this seems simple to most of us, it’s new to many of our students. Learning how to skim and preview a text is a simple skill that is easy to teach, and can be taught in all subject areas. It only takes a few minutes in class—demonstrate how to preview a reading assignment in your class and see if it makes a difference!
For more information, take a look at some of these links:
- Lei, Simon A., et al. "Strategies for improving reading comprehension among college students." Reading Improvement
- "Learning and Teaching Reading." :
- How to Study Your Textbook More Efficiently from Long Beach City College
- Preview, Read, Recall from Oregon State University
- Wesley, Charles. “Mark It Up: Why Faculty Members Should Take Some Class Time to Teach Students How to Annotate a Text.” The Chronicle of Higher Education
Sarah Hill, Information Services Librarian