Last spring, when I taught LIB 1015 Information Research for Social Sciences and Humanities, I realized that many of my students weren’t exactly knocking themselves out trying to do the reading I had assigned. When they did do the reading, it seemed as though they hadn’t read it very closely. This fall, I’ll be teaching the course again with a class made up entirely of first-year students. I am thinking about spending some time giving my students ideas about how to read an article in a way that helps them recognize the main points of the article and helps them process and retain what they’ve read.
At the moment, this not-even-half-baked idea looks like this:
- Give them a paper copy of an article to read
- Require them to come to the next class with the following: an outline they’ve made of the article (paragraph by paragraph), a list of all new words and phrases in they found in the article, a list of all persons named in the article (such as a researcher who is referenced).
- Launch into a class discussion of the article and hope that the conversation is deeper than it might have been without this effort.
- The next time there is a reading, just require an outline from them.
I’m not sure if I’ll require an outline for all assigned readings or not. Although I want my class to be able to respond intelligently and thoughtfully to discussions of readings, my class is not intended to be a seminar. Instead, I like to run my class more like a laboratory where students engage in hands-on activities to learn about how to do research; the readings are meant more to provide some foundation to the activities we do.
I’ve got my fingers crossed that this experiment will be worth the trouble.