Active Reading Techniques

Reading is a complex comprehension task, particularly for college students who navigate many different kinds of texts in any given day. For example, a conventional textbook is often designed to provide background information and model problems. For those who are accustomed to skimming, a textbook's dense prose can be very difficult to comprehend. Academic texts, like peer-reviewed articles, can present another set of challenges whether it be new vocabulary or style.  With any text, freshmen will need to learn how to identify key points and connect those ideas to the larger context of other assignments.

Please find below instructional strategies and resources for helping freshmen with reading comprehension.  If you have a practice to contribute, please email Adriana Signorini.

Teaching Tips

  • Encourge students to annotate readings, keeping in mind that students may not have been allowed to write in their high school texts.
  • Assign chapter summaries and rotate student responsibility for posting them on the course blog on CROPS.
  • Give pop quizzes on readings. Aggregate results to identify parts of the text that might need clarification.
  • Integrate readings into lectures or discussion sections, giving students a reason to read and to use what they have read.
  • Model how to read a textbook or analyze a text in your discipline for your students. Share your strategies for reading effectively and reveal for your students where to look for meaning.
  • Use your office hours to offer a workshop on reading in your discipline. 

Student Support Resources