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Center for Teaching and Learning

Focused Inquiry Groups (FIGs) - BSI

Reading Apprenticeship - Members - Patricia Wu

Reading Apprenticeship Faculty Inquiry Group

Instructor Review

2008 - 2009



Reading apprenticeship Faculty Inquiry Group (FIG) focuses on improving student reading across disciplines. The members of the FIG include instructors from English, ESL, History, and Math/Science areas.

In an effort to help students with science reading, several techniques were implemented in the Human Physiology class in the spring 2009 semester: 1) reading demonstration by the instructor, 2) muddiest point index cards, and 3) reading logs on lab assignments.


Instructor Demonstration

Students in the Human Physiology class are at different reading levels. Some already graduated with science degrees; some are struggling with science reading. In order to introduce reading to the class, the instructor did a science textbook reading demonstration. The goal of this demonstration is an attempt to open up an expert science reader’s (i.e. the science instructor) reading process, therefore, allowing the students to gain a new insight into science reading.

Discussion and demonstration:

  1. Read outline of the chapter to gain a sense of information organization.

  2. Highlight text: read the sentence first and decide if the information is important then highlight.

  3. “Talking to the Text”: it requires the reader to actively speak out what he/she is thinking about the text. The following were demonstrated while the instructor read aloud each sentence of a paragraph from the physiology textbook:

    1. Decide if the information is critical to the understanding of the new concept. If not, skip.

    2. If the information is confusing, stop and solve the problem.

    3. If the information is important, how does it fit into a larger scheme or previously learned knowledge.

    4. If a figure/table is mentioned in the text, read it.

    5. Try to visualize the information.

    6. Take breaks when losing concentration.

  4. Write hints or notes on the margin as reminders.
After the demonstration, students were more surprised to learn that it is OK to skip information which is not relevant to the main point. Most students had a hard time deciding what is relevant and what is not because they never did a line-by-line analysis of their own reading. Other students were surprised at the amount of time is needed to really extract useful information from the text.

Muddiest Point Index Card

The idea of the muddiest point index card is to encourage students to review lecture notes and/or read the textbook after the lecture. They will write down questions they have about the material on the index card while reviewing, bring them to the next class, and the instructor will answer them.

The index card did not invoke too much enthusiasm from the students because most of the students simply do not review after the lecture. They tend to cram the material before the midterm.



Reading Logs

The reading log (Appendix A) is a very useful tool to force the students to slow down their reading and take charge of what they read. The student must write down what information in the reading interested or confused them in one column, then attempt to respond to the information in a second column.

The reading log was implemented in the class after the second midterm. The students were required to do the reading logs on the lab assignments only, not on the physiology text. The rationale of this decision was based on the fact that the preface of each lab contained basic and important material covered in the lecture. If the students were able to digest the basic information first through the reading log, it will make the textbook reading easier.

The instructor’s concern on reading log implementation was the extra time required for the students to complete the assignment. The instructor was expecting high number of complaints and low completion of the logs. But on the contrary, the response from the students after implementation was extremely positive. Here are a couple of student comments:

1. I really slowed down my reading and noticed a lot of important information which I missed before.
2. I now tried to extract useful information from the text instead of just glancing over it without knowing what is there.

Students even requested to do the reading logs when none were assigned for certain labs.

The effectiveness of the reading log may be seen from the lab practical scores. The material covered on the 3rd lab practical was more difficult than the second, but the average of the 3rd lab practical was higher than 2nd lab practical.

A couple of surveys were given to the students during the spring semester: 1) Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory (MARSI) (Appendix B) and 2) science reading questionnaire (Appendix C). The MARSI survey gives an insight on which reading strategies are utilized by students in science class. The science reading questionnaire analyzes student’s attitude towards science textbooks, reading assignment, and reading.

Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory (MARSI)

To be added . . .

Science Reading Questionnaire

The questionnaire was given to both the Human Anatomy and Human Physiology classes through Survey Monkey. The results will be analyzed at the end of the semester.

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