How can collaborative reading techniques impact confidence and belonging?
Keywords:belonging, collaborative, confidence, impact, reading techniques
Recent barriers to engagement in higher education (HE) – including economic, geographic and post-COVID anxiety (Dickinson, 2022; Morgan, 2022; Bennett et al., 2022) – may result in students being less inclined to develop relationships with their peers, share ideas, and invest time in their learning. This challenges our efforts to develop students’ academic skills as they are transitioning into and through HE.
Academic reading is often neglected in favour of academic writing, largely due to the assumption that competence in reading is an existing skill (Kimberley and Thursby, 2020). However, students report that they lack confidence, resulting in avoidance of reading complex texts (St. Clair-Thompson, Graham and Marsham, 2018). In addition, subject lecturers may not refer to the importance of reading in their teaching. This ‘invisibility’ (Baker et.al, 2019) can lead to a devaluation of the skill, which has serious consequences: reading remains a critical foundation for much thinking and writing in HE (Maguire, Reynolds and Delahunt, 2020).
Collaborative reading techniques can address these challenges by promoting reading as social practice; improving confidence to tackle texts; and boosting belonging within a cohort and discipline (McCollum et al., 2017). At UWE Bristol, we have a two-year project within Learning Services to promote and improve reading skills, including reading within the disciplines. During 2022, we piloted academic reading circles, textmapping and jigsaw reading. Since then, we have embedded some of these activities across all three colleges at module level.
Initial student and lecturer feedback has been positive, with participants reporting increased levels of confidence. However, is this a sufficient indication of potential long-term impact? How do learning developers influence an improvement of competence and confidence in reading, and move towards a more mature model of embeddedness (Wingate, 2016)? Our presentation explored possible answers to this question by presenting case studies and sharing the lessons learnt.
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McCollum, B. M., Fleming, C. L., Plotnikoff, K. M., & Skagen, D. N. (2017) ‘Relationships in the Flipped Classroom’. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: 8 (3). [Accessed 22 May 2022]. https://doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2017.3.8
Morgan, M. (2022). How can universities support students through the cost of living crisis? WONKHE [blog]. 7 July. [Accessed 12 January 2023]. https://wonkhe.com/blogs/how-can-universities-support-students-through-the-cost-of-living-crisis/
St Clair-Thompson, H., Graham, A. and Marsham, S. (2018) ‘Exploring the Reading Practices of Undergraduate Students’. Education Inquiry : 9 (3), 284-298. [Accessed 12 January 2023]. https://doi.org/10.1080/20004508.2017.1380487
Wingate, U. (2016) Embedding academic literacy instruction in the curriculum: the role of EAP specialists. BALEAP PIM 19th March 2016. [Accessed 22 May 2023]. https://www.baleap.org/event/insessional-eap
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