Acquiring Knowledge from Texts

bruno-martins Acquiring Knowledge

Acquiring Knowledge from Texts

Helping students develop their strategic reading skills and giving feedback on how much knowledge they're actually acquiring from the text can improve their experience of our assigned readings.

How Can I Do This?

Think of ways to help students see the value of the assigned materials, appreciate their relevance, and navigate through them more fluidly and skillfully.

Choose readings that are relevant to the class.

Textbooks do not have to be read straight through in the order they were written, or in their entirety within one semester. They also don't have to be the only source of information. Supplement books with other media and materials like newspaper articles, blog posts, videos, diagrams, infographics, or cartoons that give them information in another format.

Choose readings that are appropriate for the students.

Students at different levels in their degree program should have different levels of reading. As students progress toward graduation, readings can be more advanced and more “academic.”

Presume the students have read the texts.

If you assume students have not read the texts, and in the lecture tell them what they would have read, they will not do the readings. Presume they have read, and get evidence of their preparation before class starts.

Teach the skills and strategies that will help students understand texts.

The most common way students try to make sense of the text is to highlight what they think is important as they read, but this is not effective. Teach strategies to help students become effective readers.

Assess whether they have understood the text.

Students understand that you assess what you think is important. If you do not assess their understanding of the readings, they will think it is unimportant. Asking students to do something with the reading -- to produce something, is one way of “getting inside the students' heads” to know how much they have understood.

Why Is This Important?

Students have to learn to process information from texts if they are going to come to class prepared and read strategically once they have left college. Students need guidance and feedback to learn how to identify important information when they read.

The reading process is a learned skill that requires time, effort and practice.

Throughout their time at college, students should be learning how to read strategically in their discipline. They do not always arrive knowing how to do that, but they should leave with it mastered.

Reading strategies help students read more efficiently and effectively.
Learning how to read strategically equips students better for lifelong learning.