Reading Assignments, Activities, and Approaches to Promote Learning

students reading

A collection of resources on getting students to read what's assigned and strategies for developing college-level reading skills


Many students do not arrive in our courses with college-level reading skills. That usually ends up meaning a couple of things. First off, they don’t like to read and will challenge (usually quietly and covertly) teacher announcements and syllabus admonitions telling them they must do the reading. They’ll come to class, sit quietly, take a few notes, and see what happens if they aren’t prepared. If there are no negative consequences, they decide maybe they don’t have to do the reading or they can put it off until just before the exam. In the Relevant Research section below you’ll find a study that documents the number of students who come to class not having done the reading as well as what they say is the most effective tactic for encouraging them to read what’s assigned.

Getting students to read “boring” textbooks is especially challenging. To them, what’s in the reading is complicated, unfamiliar information that doesn’t seem all that relevant. What’s most important? What do they need to know? Why won’t the teacher just tell them what they need to know? After all, isn’t that the teacher’s job? Without good reading skills, students often resort to dubious approaches when tackling their reading assignments. With brightly colored markers, they underline entire paragraphs, if not whole pages. They attempt the reading while attending to numerous distractions; TV, music, and electronic devices of various sorts. Their eyes glance across the words on the page, skipping over unfamiliar vocabulary and without stopping when they don’t understand something. The idea of interacting with the text—thinking about the contents, relating the content to what’s been talked about in class, trying more than once to understand a passage, keeping mental track of what they’ve just read in light of what they’re reading now—all of these close reading strategies necessary to understanding text material are not used at all or only modestly.

To continue reading, you must be a Teaching Professor Subscriber. Please log in or sign up for full access.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Articles

I have two loves: teaching and learning. Although I love them for different reasons, I’ve been passionate about...
Whether you love it or hate it, online higher education is here to stay. In the 2022–2023 academic...
When educators talk about AI, they seem to fall into one of two camps: one that is vehemently...
Many students struggle with their education due to poor study skills. They wait until the last minute to...
On July 20, 2007, millions of people around the world were filled with a mix of anticipation and...
Most professional program curricula focus on the required specialized knowledge and skills to meet the profession’s needs. Yet...
There are now AI resources to help instructors through all steps of lesson development, from crafting lesson outlines...

Are you signed up for free weekly Teaching Professor updates?

You'll get notified of the newest articles.

The Teaching Professor Conference 2024

June 7-9, 2024 • New Orleans

Connect with Fellow Educators at The Teaching Professor Conference!