Reading and writing often go hand in hand; students need to engage with written material, digest it, critique it and deploy what they have read, in shaping their own ideas, usually in writing. But being able to read effectively – and to use reading effectively - is not necessarily something students are equipped to do. The texts students are asked to read in their disciplinary courses are often highly challenging - in the way they are written, the language they use, their structure and content - and in their sheer volume.
We’ve worked with a number of colleagues to find ways of offering more overt support to/developing students’ reading in their subject courses. As reading is a foundation element of everything we do you will find these resources elsewhere on our site but we feel that they are usefully gathered together here too:
· The first year Geographical Ideas in Practice module included worksheet guidance and tasks to get students thinking about what they were reading and practice developing responses in writing
· First year Politics students were encouraged to use a reading grid to help them extract and analyse salient aspects from a limited number of texts and organise their material to highlight similarities and differences across texts. This was part of a series of tasks integrated into a first year Politics module that help students read effectively and use what they read in their writing.
· Other politics students were helped in engaging with primary sources from Parliament and the government as part of a module developed to encourage research-based learning
· Some ideas from a module on Catalan Culture to that were found to very helpful to students for engaging with the reading they did in their subsequent writing involve designing the activities before ascribing texts to them, writing a series of progressively shorter summaries of a key text, and shortening and lengthening a text using negative summary, adding detail. More details and ideas around this can be found on our Countering Plagiarism page.
· Offering Reading Spaces and retreats. Another simple approach that involves scheduling time for students to read in the company of others with some light guidance including writing questions before reading and summing up key points once the text has been put to one side.
· Other ideas for developing reading through critical and creative rewriting, and examples of students responses to these ideas, can be found on our page Provoking critical engagement.