Reading Strategies for eLearning

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Was your dream to become a reading teacher?  Students struggle with the required reading in an online course.  This session will provide research-based strategies for faculty to aid students in becoming more proficient readers using eText.  Attendees will leave with tools to assist students in diving deeper into the content!



Juliet Cassidy-Floyd is a Faculty Development Instructor for the Rothwell Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence at Embry-Riddle Worldwide. Her academic background includes a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction from Capella University, a M.S. in Educational Psychology from Capella University and a B.A. in English Literature from University of North Florida. A self-proclaimed native of Jacksonville, FL, she has taught grades 6-12 in urban, rural and suburban areas in all variations of Language Arts. She is also ESOL certified and has worked with students learning the English language for several years. Dr. Cassidy-Floyd has facilitated professional development trainings district wide, as well as facilitated adult learning as an adjunct professor. On a personal note, she and her husband have five adult children, 3 dogs, and a chicken.

Extended Abstract

How great would it be if all our students logged into a course, read all the assigned material, and were ready to engage in a robust conversation about the merits of the content or using theory in a real world scenario?! Unfortunately, faculty are reporting more and more frustration with students’ lack of preparation for discussion due to not reading the assigned material (West, 2018).  Further, student assignments seem shallow and ill-prepared.  This lack of critical inquiry creates a perception among many faculty of students as lazy, unmotivated or uninterested (Cabral & Tavares, 2002).  Yet, faculty know it is imperative for students to critically read the material to truly learn.   

Meanwhile, eText is growing in popularity (McKenzie, 2018).  The concept of the millennial generation having phones embedded in their palms, and Digital Natives being natural users of online reading makes the concept of ditching traditional textbooks for ebooks attractive (Hoeft, 2012).  Additionally, many institutions of higher learning see using online reading material as a way to remove economic barriers for student success (McDaniel & Daday, 2018).  However, the experiences of these generations with eReading does not match the expectations.  Many students report not knowing how to read longer pieces of text online (Al-Mekhlafi, 2018).  Data supports this self-assessment with 50% of incoming freshman having poor reading comprehension skills (Hoeft, 2012).

There is a clear difference between learning to read and reading to learn.  It’s a common misconception that once students have learned to decode text by third grade, they are ready to read text to learn (Jordan,  & Schoenbach, 2010).  It is even expected since students have been enrolled in a University, their reading skills match the level of content college level courses require.  Moreover, faculty expect this generation to be proficient in reading online materials (McDaniel & Daday, 2018).  However, it is quite clear students are not able to glean the important information needed to be successful from the text.  As professors, we must improve our practice to not only facilitate content knowledge, but to ensure our students are gaining strategies to become critical readers and thinkers.  This can be particularly difficult when the content is delivered using only eTexts.  This session will provide research-based strategies to engage students in becoming more proficient readers of eTexts, regardless of the modality of the course. Attendees will leave with tools to utilize immediately to assist students in diving deeper into the content!

Session Outcomes: Participants will be able to identify some common challenges students have with eTexts.  Participants will compare a variety of active reading strategies. Participants will be able to select at least one active reading strategy they can incorporate into their own course(s) to support students in becoming more proficient readers of eText. 

Session Agenda: Participants will begin with small group discussions acknowledging challenges to student class preparedness when eText reading is assigned.  Expected answers include: students won’t read before class; hard to have engaging activities if I have to cover course material; it doesn’t feel like students have any prior knowledge; and students read superficially. Participants will then be asked to explore some reasoning to the problems identified.  Presenter will facilitate a large group discussion to ensure that research-based realities to the problem are identified.  Such realities may include students often don’t have time for the amount of reading assigned, only 50% of incoming freshman students demonstrate basic reading comprehension of the material, and students often don’t know why they have to read the material or do the assignment.  How is it relevant to their goals, and their program outcomes?

After acknowledging challenges and then discussing the reading realities, presenter will in succession present each of the following reading strategies to participants: marking eTexts, chunking text, modeling reading, setting a purpose for reading (use of optional reading guides, active reading strategies demonstration, give one/get one, four A's), consensus charts, and the concept of metacognitive thinking.  After introduction of each strategy participants will have an opportunity to practice the strategy either individually or within their small group.  Each strategy is aligned to different research which demonstrates the effectiveness of the strategy to increase reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.  Part of the intentionality of the facilitator is to ensure participants understand how each strategy can be used in eTexts, and how they can use it in their own courses.

Session will conclude with participants being allowed the opportunity to plan ways in which they can incorporate a strategy into their own course(s).  Each strategy will be something they can use immediately in their courseroom with their current students.  None of the strategies will require extra monetary resources from the facilitator or the institution.  However, some of the strategies may require facilitators to invest time prior to the course for preparation of material.

Material provided: Powerpoint presentation will be made available.  Sample handouts for various reading strategies will also be made available.  Lesson planning handout for course preparation to incorporate reading strategies will be given to the participants.


Al-Mekhlafi, A. (2018). EFL Learners' Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies. International     Journal of Instruction, 11(2), 297-308.

Cabral, A., & Tavares, J. (2002, September 11). Reading and Writing Skills in Higher Education: Lecturers’ opinions and perceptions. Lecturepresented at European Conference on Educational         Research in University of Lisbon, Lisbon.

Hoeft, M. E. (2012). Why University Students Dont Read: What Professors Can Do To Increase  Compliance. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6(2). doi:10.20429/ijsotl.2012.060212

Jordan, M., & Schoenbach, R. (2003, November-December). Breaking through the literacy ceiling:          reading is demystified for secondary students in    reading apprenticeship classrooms, where          students can "read to learn" in all their subject area courses. Leadership, 33(2), 8+.       Retrieved from              sid=PROF&xid=cd8aea3d

McDaniel, K., & Daday, J. (2018). Varied student perception of e-text use among student populations in  biology courses. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 6(1), 24-35.

McKenzie, L. (2018, March 1). Publishers race to reduce costs of digital textbooks | Inside Higher Ed.     Retrieved May 17, 2018, from       learning/article/2018/05/01/publishers-race-reduce-costs-digital-textbooks

West, J. (2018). Raising the Quality of Discussion by Scaffolding Students’ Reading. International           Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 30(1), 146-160.