Reading readings: How students learn to (dis)engage with critical reading

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Transforming Knowledge into Wisdom Holistic Approaches to Teaching and Learning Vol. 27

July, 2004, 359 pages
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0 90 8557 58 2

One of the central skills in learning to ‘turn knowledge into wisdom’ is critical reading: the ability to learn from text, to think analytically and critically and to develop an ethical and reasoned position as a result. However, it is often assumed that students will acquire the ability to read critically without active intervention from their teachers. This paper reports on a study of students’ acquisition of critical reading skills across the first three semesters of a Bachelor of Education course. We defined critical reading as engaging in dialogue with texts—both listening to the voices of the text and responding to them, and used Luke’s four reader resources as a framework: code-breaker, text user, text participant and text analyst. Our data revealed that certain scaffolding strategies fostered students’ disposition towards critical reading, for example: embedding the reading into the assessment, classroom discussion and lectures; careful selection of reading materials of different genres; focusing on metacognitive reading strategies; and linking the reading to the students’ personal identities as future teachers. However, when these supportive teaching practices were discontinued, students abandoned the critical reading practices which they had acquired. We argue, then, that critical literacy practices have to be developed on a longitudinal basis by integration across a course structure.

Keywords: Critical reading; academic literacy; scaffolding.

Reading readings: How students learn to (dis)engage with critical reading

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Wilson, K., Devereux, L., Macken-Horarik, M. & Trimingham-Jack, C.