Students don’t read for many reasons – they don’t think it is important, don’t have time, are overwhelmed by the amount or difficulty of the reading, or think they can “get away” without reading. Here are some tips for structuring your course to encourage students to read the course material –

  1. Not every course needs a textbook– Choose the reading wisely and be sure it is “absolutely essential” because you will build or lose trust with each reading assignment. If they need, use, and apply the reading each week, then there is a higher chance they will read regularly.
  2. “Less is more” applies to course reading – Carefully select works and even page ranges that will best connect to the rest of the course from activities to assessments.
  3. Aim reading material at “marginally-skilled” students – Make the bulk of your reading “easy to digest” for the class skill level and sprinkle your curriculum with a few more “difficult” texts.
  4. Explain reading assignments’ relevance – Answer the why’s!  Set the stage for why they should read, why the particular assignment matters, and how they will use it in class.
  5. Don’t read for them – Often students don’t complete the reading because the instructor will go over it in class. Be sure that the reading is relevant and used in class, but don’t lecture or present the material they just read.
  6. Contextualize the reading – Provide reading guides, study questions, and short writing assignments that help students understand the material as they read and after they read.
  7. Teach reading strategies overtly – Help student learn about a text, ask questions while reading, mark their text, take notes, outline, summarize, and evaluate. Guide them with what skills they should use for the readings in your class.
  8. Expect more – If you are expecting students to read, then expect them to do something with that knowledge in class. It may be an activity, a quiz, or other assignment. Making sure that use that information (immediately) is key to their understanding it is necessary to read for your class.

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