Common Literacy Struggles with College Students: Using the Reciprocal Teaching Technique
Gruenbaum, Elizabeth A., Journal of College Reading and Learning
Many college students struggle with the literacy skills needed to be successful in higher education (Bettinger & Long, 2009; Snyder, Tan, & Hoffman, 2004). The difficulties emerge within students' capabilities in reading and writing. Students must be taught the skills needed to be successful to complete the tasks assigned in college classes and in their future jobs (Hammond, 2008; Jobs for the Future, 2005). Students must think critically, connect ideas, and complete research projects (O'Sullivan &Dallas, 2010). Poor metacomprehension while reading results in difficulties comprehending text or writing efficiently (Thiede, Griffin, Wiley, & Anderson, 2010; Wood, Motz, & Willoughby, 1998,. Yang, 2010). Interventions are essential to enhance comprehension and improve writing skills.
Te Reciprocal Teaching (RT) technique involves a group effort between instructors and students, and among students with their peers, focused on bringing meaning to text. The RT approach incorporates a variety of strategies to increase comprehension (Palincsar & Brown, 1984; Vacca, Vacca, & Mraz, 2011), which include predicting, clarifying, questioning, and summarizing. Within the RT approach, teacher and student take turns leading discussions about the reading. Teachers encourage student interaction and monitor the learning through modeling appropriate strategies and asking questions to scaffold the learning (Gruenbaum, 2010). Interactions and teachings in RT online forums, as well as the teaching of research skills, may further assist with improving writing, including grammar and mechanics (Yang, 2010). This article will describe the literacy skills needed for students to be successful in college and will explain strategies that may be used to assist students in developing these essential literacy skills.
Businesses expect today's 21st century students to have the capability to analyze and evaluate information that may then be used to solve everyday problems (Jobs for the Future, 2005). Studies on college students have shown that students in increasing numbers may not find high school preparation sufficient for success in college or in the job market (Dreyer & Nel, 2003; Greene & Forster, 2003; Jobs for the Future, 2005). Wineburg (2006) cited the National Center for Education Statistics in reporting that many 12th grade students in the United States are reading and writing at a fifth grade level.
Many college students take transitional coursework to improve their literacy skills in their first year of college. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that about one third of first-year college students take transitional courses (Snyder, Tan, & Hoffman, 2004). At some postsecondary institutions, the percentage of first-year students who enroll in transitional classes is as high as 60% (Bettinger & Long, 2009).
Wineburg (2006) noted that the difficulty lies in reading comprehension, which affects students' reading and writing abilities as well as their ability to perform well on college-level research assignments. High school and college students must be taught the skills to locate and analyze complicated information, to solve problems they encounter while reading, and to connect ideas and concepts (Hammond, 2008; Jobs for the Future, 2005).
Literacy Skills Necessary for Success in College
Students' reading comprehension difficulties need to be specifically addressed (Wineburg, 2006). When college students read, they oftentimes choose ineffective or inefficient strategies (Wood, Motz, & Willoughby, 1998). Thiede, Griffen, Wiley, and Anderson (2010) found that students with poor metacomprehension were unable to use corrective strategies to improve their comprehension. Metacomprehension refers to the ability to monitor understanding of information communicated or to recognize a lack of comprehension, and then to apply corrective strategies to clarify comprehension. …