Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Ideas in Practice: Self-Regulation and Metacognition in the Reading Lab

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Ideas in Practice: Self-Regulation and Metacognition in the Reading Lab

Article excerpt

Reading teachers often find passive learners in college developmental reading programs. We sometimes see students staring into space, disengaged and inattentive. When students come to a reading lab, they often express a generalized goal, perhaps "to be a better reader." Others say they have come to "do what the teacher said" or to fulfill a requirement. After some dialogue between teacher and student, the student is typically told: "Go and read this material and then answer these questions. We'll see how you do." Incorrect answers are met with more directives from the teacher in hopes of fostering improvement. Thus, teachers direct and students follow.

Despite our expertise and good intentions, we see a lack of articulate communication when students talk about their reading. Moreover, students often do not take personal responsibility for their own reading improvement. They have an inadequate understanding of what they need to become better readers: They're unfamiliar with the process of identifying their own strengths and weaknesses, and they have no experience establishing learning goals for themselves. Many of our student readers were functioning in a passive, dependent role.

As a result there are certain questions college reading teachers need to ask. By our directives, are we cultivating student passivity? Could we provide more opportunities for active learning? Are we discouraging students from becoming responsible, self-directed learners who competently manage their own learning activities? Good intentions or not, it seems we may reinforce a dependent role, a role in which students react to teacher instructions but can't express any specific direction for themselves. In order for students to become successful college learners, we decided students needed to experience and practice a new role: to take active responsibility for their own reading development.

Despite the current trend of modern reading labs' involvement in providing a diversity of wide-reaching support services (i.e., drop-in tutoring, reading across the curriculum support for content courses, special needs presentations, etc.), often there still exists a serious need to provide "old fashioned" instruction in basic reading skills. Our reading lab is where this occurs. Because we have open-- admissions, and because our students must demonstrate proficiency on the state mandated TASP (Texas Academic Skills Program) Test-a test which covers six basic reading skills (meaning of words and phrases; main idea and details; writer's purpose, point of view, and intended meaning; relationship among ideas; critical reasoning skills; study skill in reading)-an important focus of our reading lab program involves basic skill instruction. The reading lab serves the needs of two groups: (a) Students who have scored below the cutoff score on the college entry test come to our lab to fulfill an hourly requirement for Reading 1300, a mandatory 3-hour per week reading course. The objective of Reading 1300 is to prepare students to succeed in reading-based college courses. Instructors assign students to attend the reading lab for 10 to 12 hours a semester to practice the six TASP skills. (b) The other group, Reading 1001, attends the lab for 12 hours for an individualized reading tutorial. All Reading 1001 students are TASP obligated, and the objective of the tutorial is to prepare them to pass the state test. Our reading lab program has been designed with the needs of these two student cohorts in mind.

What makes our reading lab special? Despite the fact that we teach "old fashioned" basic skills in our reading lab, our program is unique in the way in which we go about fulfilling the task. We want students to identify their own reading strengths and weaknesses, set personal goals and priorities, and select strategies that bring success. Most importantly, we want students to take personal control over their reading activities and thereby involve an element of personal will. …

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