Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

Strengthening College Students' Success through the RAC

Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

Strengthening College Students' Success through the RAC

Article excerpt

Faculty Course Revision Project

Recent statistics as they relate to literacy in the United States are alarming. Since 1983, more than ten million Americans have reached twelfth grade without having learned to read at a basic level. TWenty-one million Americans cannot read at all. Recent statistics indicate that 32 million U.S. adults are unable to read a newspaper or instructions on a pill bottle (Britt, 2009). Furthermore, the reading proficiency of college students has declined over the years partly because of the lack of reading materials at home and competition from technology, includine television, video games and the Internet. Although more Americans apply for college admission and graduate from college, fewer leave college with the skills needed to understand routine data. Also, 20% of first-year college students are placed in remedial reading classes or reading assistance labs ("Grim Illiteracy, "2007).

Technically, high school graduates vacation for only two to three months before enterine college, and bridging the gap between high school and college is a challenge, particularly for students who are underprepared (Giuliano & Sullivan, 2007). A study released by the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2006 revealed that 41% of college professors thought that students were not prepared for college-level reading and had poor reading comprehension while only 15% of high school teachers agreed (Sanoff, 2006), indicating a disconnect, which has hindered the continuity of literacy instruction between K-1 2 and university classrooms (Eckert, 2008). Therefore, the need to address the problem of college students' reading comprehension skills is critical.

Because reading and reading comprehension are integral parts of all disciplines, all teachers, including university professors, should be willing to teach reading comprehension skills apropos to their specific disciplines. Students in every classroom need to be able to understand word problems, comprehend difficult texts, and even communicate their own emotions and ideas to lead full and productive lives (Morse, 2008). In I Read It, But I Don't Get it: Comprehension Strategies for Adolescent Readers, Chris Tbvani (2000) challenged the notion that students have been taught to read purposefully in elementary school. Reading encapsulates more than the ability to pronounce words from left to right; it also includes the ability to extrapolate implicit and explicit meanings from those words, form judgments about those words, and connect them to other texts. It is "the psycholinguistic processes of getting meaning from or putting meaning into print and/or sound, images, and movement, on a page or screen, used for the purposes of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation" (Horning, 2007, para. 4). Thus, teachers of adolescent readers need to be adept in teaching students to read for a purpose, to build upon their background knowledge, and to use strategies to better comprehend texts, all of which extend far beyond basic reading (Tbvani, 2000). Many students, particularly college students, are not forthcoming about their difficulties in understanding textbook material. So, they may become defensive or even offer excuses for not examining the material more closely. Thus, like adolescent readers, adult readers need a toolbox of reading strategies and the knowledge of how and when to use them (Hock & Mellard, 2005). For example, reading strategies applicable to a math course are quite different from those applicable to an English or humanities course. Yet, there are reading comprehension strategies that may prove helpful in both courses.

Students must be able to discern the strategies that work for them in their various college classes (Falk-Ross, 2001). Research has indicated that students who have effective reading strategies will be more successful in learning the material for their courses (Barton, 1997). Therefore, we recognize the importance of effective reading strategies at the college level in light of the lack of professional development for college instructors in relation to reading instruction. …

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