Learning & Teaching Tips
Getting Students to Read
You’ve discovered that many of your students aren’t reading. Why not? Are you spending too much time summarizing the readings so that students think there is no need to read? Are you not holding students accountable for the reading? Do students fail to see the reading as meaningful and worthwhile? If the answer might be “yes” to any of the above questions then read the following to explore what you can do to get students to read…
Pre-Reading Motivation Strategies:
- Pique their curiosity about the reading. Tell them why you’ve chosen each selection. Give them questions to ponder as they do the reading.
- Refer to the readings frequently. Have students turn to the visuals, graphs, and tables in the readings during class.
- Inform the class how you want students to read a particular selection. Do you want them to skim, deep read, take notes, outline, focus on a particular area? Do you want them to read to find the major argument, to define certain terms, to question the author, etc.?
Reading Assignment Strategies:
- Develop reading guides with questions for students to answer while they read.
- Ask students to submit a concise summary of the main points or a personal response to the reading assignment.
- Ask students to bring in 2-3 questions they have about the material read. Have them get into pairs or small groups to decide on the best question to present to the class. Answering these questions can take the place of a lecture and can be more responsive to the students’ needs. Can collect the questions for credit.
- Ask students to mark with a highlighter or post-it the most significant passages and have them share during class as the basis for discussion.
- Require students to use course readings as part of their formal writing assignments. This will minimize the likelihood of plagiarism and use of paper-mills.
- Reading assignments can be long or short, ungraded, or graded credit/no credit or for points. To reduce the grading load, you can randomly select particular items to grade, such as odd-numbered answers on a reading guide, or you can select particular pre-determined days (unbeknownst to the students) in which the assignments will be graded.
Written by: Tasha J. Souza, Humboldt State University
Boyd, D. R. (2003). Using Textbooks Effectively: Getting Students to Read Them. Observer, 16, 6. Retrieved from http://www.psychologicalscience.org/teaching/tips/tips_0603.cfm
Hansen, S. (2008). Engaged Reading: Getting Students Beyond the Yellow Highlighter. Workshop handouts presented at the POD conference, Reno, NV.
Hobson, E.H. (2004). Getting Students to Read: Fourteen Tips. Idea Paper, 40, 1-6. Retrieved Sept. 10, 2009, from The Idea Center Web site: http://www.theideacenter.org/sites/default/files/Idea_Paper_40.pdf