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Teaching College Students to Read Analytically:
An Individualized Approach

Jan Cooper, Rick Evans and Elizabeth Robertson

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : National Council of Teachers of English

Published : 1985

Copyright : Jan Cooper 1985

ISBN-10 : PB 0-8141-5059-4
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-8141-5059-7

Publisher's Write-Up

Based on the experiences of writing lab instructors working with college students whose writing was affected by poor comprehension of difficult texts, this book explores the use of writing about reading to help students become more aware or analytical of their reading processes. The first chapter provides a theoretical context for teaching analytical reading in the context of writing. The second chapter recounts a teacher's work with a basic writing student whose inexperience with reading interfered with his writing, and describes the individualized reading course that balanced familiar and unfamiliar reading materials. The third chapter describes adapting a similar approach in a class of 22 freshman English students, focusing on a single book, and how the teacher's responses to student journal entries concerning their reactions to the book helped the students develop both critical reading and critical writing abilities. The fourth chapter discusses how the same approach was adapted to a sophomore literature class, and how the students' writing about reading allowed the instructor to take part in their attempts to understand the assigned texts at every stage of their reading. The book concludes with a 16-item annotated bibliography of works exploring the psychological and pedagogical theory behind this approach.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Patrick Burney (310112) Rating (8/10)

Review by Patrick Burney
Rating 8/10
Teaching College Students to Read Analytically: An Individualized Approach is written by Jan Cooper and utilizes anecdotes written by University of Iowa professors; Rick Evans and Elizabeth Robertson. This book addresses the general teaching methods utilized by college professors in the world of reading and writing. Cooper takes this book one step further and attempts to portray the link between reading and writing. She highlights the interdependency between the two worlds of reading and writing. Cooper focuses on specific examples in which this relationship is prevalent to show that improving one of these skills will result in a direct improvement of the other. A main premise that Teaching College Students to Read Analytically: An Individualized Approach focuses on is that so often the American collegiate community or even the high school English world produces students who lack the appropriate abilities to read and write. As soon as a student begins to struggle with the mundane, required, curriculum it is as if they entered and inevitable snow ball affect resulting in a student with a severe disadvantage; the inability to read and write effectively.

This book addresses this common epidemic. It uses specific examples of alternative methods that may combat this problem. These examples are anecdotes written by Rick Evans and Elizabeth Robertson. Professor Robertson’s account focused primarily on the individual level because she practiced her methods in a writing lab. This writing lab was meant to have a one on one, teach to student relationship. Professor Evans account was aggregated to a larger scale because he attempted to practice his methods with a whole English Class. Although different scale and sizes existed between the two anecdotes, an overall consensus of how to combat the problem was developed.

The book emphasizes three different approaches in improving student’s ability to read and write. The first theory that is an underlining theme throughout the whole book is the act of writing about what one has read. What this means is that a student will read something and immediately write about what they had read. The important thing to note in this process is that when the student writes they must be aware that they will not be graded upon this writing. The level of informality must be made clear. This is significant because it eliminates the filter that exists within a student’s brain when they know they are about to be graded. Some students over think, to maybe alter their thinking when they are told they will be graded on their writing. This eliminates that fear and opens up the students mind. It gives the student freedom to think and comprehend.

The second tool that this book draws attention to is the "individualized approach," it is such a significant part of this book it even made it into the title. The idea that a teacher should cater to students or various groups of students is a predominate factor in combating falling reading and writing levels. Many students begin to fall into this vacuum stream of frustration because the material does not pertain to them. It is easier for a student to lose interest in their work when it is unfamiliar material. If teachers were to cater to their students interests or demographics and eventually progress into more difficult literature it would be much easier to not only initially grab the attention of their students but to hold the attention of their students over a long period.

The third and perhaps most significant tools that will aid in the development of future readers that is noted in this book is that the teachers must be willing to put in more. For "an individualized approach" to be effective, it is obvious the teachers themselves will have to put in more work. If the teachers and administration expect huge strides from their students they have to put the same amount of time and work into the process. For example if a student was told to write about what they had just read the teacher would have to actively ask question to further stimulate the student. The professor must be willing to invest time with their students if progression with the language is the common goal.
Although I am not personally a student of the art of education I believe that this work influenced my outlook on the educational process as well as the link between reading and writing. Reading this book helped me realized the student-teacher relationship from the side of the teacher for once in my 18 years in the academic world. It helped open my eyes to the possibilities that are out there if change is implemented. The link between improving reading to improve writing stood out to me because both of these skills are relevant in my hopeful career as an attorney. I was able to interpret this book easily because I feel as if my Education class practices many of the tools that are touched on.

A final thing that stood out too me is the age of the book. The book was published in 1985. I feel that this is so significant because much of the content of this book was ahead of its time and even is still revolutionary to this day.
Patrick Burney (31st January 2012)

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