Reading Assignments

Goals for student learning:

  • Read carefully and with understanding
  • Understand intellectual or disciplinary debates
  • Gain a conceptual framework for in-class discussions or problem solving

Be aware that:

  • Students, especially students new to your field, may complete a reading assignment quickly or shallowly.
  • Students may divide up lengthy reading assignments with classmates or consult existing study guides rather than completing the reading on their own.

To encourage deep, honest, and active engagement:

  • Provide students with guidance on and resources for how to read in your field; share your own reading and note-taking practices with them.
  • Prioritize weekly reading assignments for students. What’s most crucial for them to complete?
  • Situate a particular reading in its context or contexts (disciplinary, historical, etc.).
  • Advise students on whether or how to use online synopses, syntheses, or reading guides that may be available to them.

Assignment types and examples:

  • Weekly reading
  • Close reading, listening, or “seeing”
  • Case reading
  • Observations/fieldwork
  • Scientific reading
  • Reading for context
  • Reading for research

Resources for students:

Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2008)
BSC Resources on Reading
Amanda Claybaugh, “How to Read a Novel” and “How to Read a Scholarly Monograph”
Harvard Library: Research Guides on Reading Habits
Michael Mitzenmacher, “How to Read a Research Paper”