Pearson How can you re-engage students with reading?

How can you re-engage students with reading?

Students who read more than their peers are proven to achieve higher marks in assessments, become more closely involved in class discussions, and to develop superior reading and writing skills. But there’s a notable gulf between what they should be doing when it comes to reading, and their actual reading habits.

But what is stopping students engaging with their reading? For some, it may have been a matter of motivation, while in Pearson and Wonkhe’s own student survey, a lack of engagement with lecturers and peers, and an inability to manage time and adapt to a new way of working were cited as having an abject effect. However, even pre-pandemic students were struggling to engage with material that was long, static and inaccessible, with one student in a HEFCE survey from 2019 stating ‘There’s these big hefty books, 600 pages and they might give you two or three chapters... and the chapters are about 100 pages long.’

So, how can lecturers encourage students to complete their required reading when they struggle with time, comprehension, and understanding the value of their prescribed texts? 

Reduce extraneous cognitive load.

Research shows that with a reduction in extraneous cognitive load, students find it easier to process important information and move it from working memory, to long-term memory. This can be supported through:

  • Structure and chunking of content to ensure it will not only be read but understood.
  • Signalling key material using fonts, colour palettes and white space on a page or screen carefully can maintain focus on key information.

Boost active and constructive engagement.

When students read a little, then do a little, they are better equipped to understand and remember what they are learning.

  • Enhancing static, text-heavy materials with interactive media, video, and interactives that are carefully placed intervals can help clarify complex topics.
  • Short writing activities can also encourage them to think constructively and master important concepts.

Checking learning and providing immediate feedback.

With students focusing on reading that will support their assessment performance as a key motivator for completing it, reading should be emphasised as an opportunity to check their understanding.

  • Including online activities such as MCQs or short quizzes after their reading can help them check their comprehension then and there, especially if it can be automatically marked.
  • Research indicates that the most effective feedback is specific to the task in hand, provides information on how well the student is performing, and demonstrates how the task will connect to subsequent content.

High reading engagement will always have a positive impact on student performance, but with the pressures many students and educators are under, anything that can be done to help reading engagement and comprehension with benefit all. Traditional reading materials such as print textbooks, journals and eBooks do not meet the needs and expectations of today’s students and may not be the most effective method of study for them. Reading that can be appropriately structured, made interactive and support them in assessing of their own understanding in preparation for workshops and seminars will best prepare them for academic success.

Revel from Pearson is an eBook reimagined, introducing rich media, quizzes and writing activities alongside high-quality textbook content. It drives greater value from course materials and makes reading more engaging; challenging students and making more effective use of their time away from lectures, so they come to your classroom better prepared.

Discover Revel and see what titles are available for your course here.

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