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Encouraging Students to Use the Dictionary: The Results

Motivating Students

Encouraging Students to Use the Dictionary: The Results

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Previously in The Teaching Professor (31.7), I wrote about my efforts to help students get what John C. Bean in Engaging Ideas (2001) calls the "Dictionary Habit." As I wrote, I had always assumed that my approach to teaching the "Dictionary Habit" was effective. However, a student email inquiring about the meaning of the word "dwellings" alerted me to the possibility that my approach was perhaps too teacher-centered. In other words, I began to wonder whether I had inspired this student to turn to me for a definition rather than a first-class dictionary like the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). In short, up to that point, I had been the one choosing what words we would look up as we read through texts, at least on most occasions. After the student's email, I decided to try something new, something more organic. As a self-described "dictionary enthusiast," what happened fascinated me.

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