Revolution Lullabye

February 4, 2013

Scholes, The Transition to College Reading

Scholes, Robert J. “The Transition to College Reading.” Pedagogy 2.2 (Spring 2002): 165-172. Print.

In this essay, which is a revised version of a talk Scholes delivered at the 2001 NCTE conference in Baltimore, Scholes argues that teachers of English need to spend more time teaching students how to read more critically, which he defines as two related activities: 1. being able to accurately focus on the words, the language of the text and 2. understanding the author as outside the reader (as an other.) (166)

Scholes argues that this reading problem he sees as an educator is symptomatic of a larger problem of American culture: the inability of people to imagine the other – being able to listen to a person’s arguments and reasons without instantly critiquing or dismissing that argument. He contends that rhetoric depends on hearing the other, and a society that can’t understand perspectives other than their own cannot function as a true democracy.

Scholes believes that incorporating more literary criticism in the literature/English curriculum will address this reading problem becuase he believes criticism can model to students how to read and write for differences, how to interpret the other.  Scholes also notes that the task of imagining the other is rooted in rhetorical education: he cites McGuffey’s Reader (5th ed 1879) as explaining the purpose of reading as hearing the “ideas and feelings of the writer” (qtd. 167).

Notable Notes

solution must start in secondary schools, in the curriculum

importance of asking students to read things that they might not agree with – practicing listening to the arguments and reasons of the writer, not themselves.

Quotable Quotes

“The reading problems of our students can themselves be read as a symptom of a larger cultural problem.  We are not good, as a culture, at imagining the other” (167).

“I want to say that a good person, in our time, needs to have the rhetorical capacity to imagine the other’s thought, feeling, and sentiments. That is, though not all rhetoricians are good people, all good citizens must be rhetoricians to the extent that they can imagine themselves in the place of another and understand views different from their own. It is our responsibility as English teachers to help our students develop this form of textual power, in which strength comes, paradoxically, from subordinating one’s own thoughts temporarily to the views and values of another person” (168).

“If rhetoric is a schooling in textual virtue as well as in textual power, as I believe it is, this virtue consists largely in our being able to assume another person’s point of view before criticizing it and resuming our own” (169).

“The basis of an education for citizens of a democracy lies in that apparently simple but actually difficult act of reading so as to grasp and evaluate the thoughts and feelings of that mysterious other person: the writer” (171).

JISC and the British Library, Researchers of Tomorrow

JISC and the British Library. Researchers of Tomorrow: TheResearch Behaviour of Generation Y Doctoral Students.  Report.  28 June 2012.  Print.

JISC, a British thinktank that studies digital technologies, and the British Library conducted a three-year study of the research behaviors of “Generation Y” British doctoral students in order to discover how doctoral students find information, conduct research, and use emerging technologies in their research processes.  The Generation Y students they targetted were born between 1982-1994 and did not grow up using digital technologies (in other words, they are not digital natives.)

The study, which involved three annual surveys of a total of 17,000 doctoral students and a longitudinal study of 60 doctoral students, found that this generation of doctoral students relied less on primary sources and materials when conducting their research and turned most often to e-journals (rather than printed sources) to find information and texts.  Although they have been introduced to different kinds of Web 2.0 and digital technologies that could augment their research process, the study found that most Generation Y doctoral students only adopted technologies that fit into their already-established research habits. These students were often unsure of the validity and the usefulness of open access cites, probably due to uncertainty about the credibility of online publication venues and the suspicion of sharing (or fear of being scooped) in many academic fields.  Finally, the research study found that students don’t find one-size-fits-all research or technology workshops useful for their own research process; the doctoral students in the study noted that a more informal, peer-led, and tailored approach to research strategies would be more effective.

The purpose of the study is to shed light on the research habits of this generation of doctoral students.   The findings, both JISC and the British Library hope, will help librarians and those in higher education better prepare and assist doctoral students for 21st century digital research.

Notable Notes

huge longitudinal study that focuses on students’ research and information-finding habits.

the organization of the report:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Setting the scene
  • Chapter 3: Finding and using research resources
  • Chapter 4: Take-up of technology and applications
  • Chapter 5: Collaborating, sharing, and disseminating research
  • Chapter 6: Institutional services and facilities to support research
  • Chapter 7: Conclusions

surveys tried to determine what are their attitudes toward research and what are the key constraints/drivers to their research process (10)

surveyed students from 72 institutions of higher education.

two key findings: “Only Google commands a similarily important role [the other being e-journals] as an information source across all subject disciplines” and “Generation Y doctoral students seem rarely to be aware of the actual publisher or name of the e-information source, as they rely on their library’s own interface or Google to locate and access resources” (19).

Quotable Quotes

“The study found that Generation Y doctoral students are sophisticated information-seekers and users of complex information sources. They are not dazzled by technology and are acutely aware of critical issues such as authority and authenticity in research and evidence gathering” (5).

“If they cannot get hold of an e-journal article, almost half the Generation Y doctoral students said they will make do with the abstract.  Fewer older students inclined to do this” (6)

“There is widespread lack of understanding and uncertainty about open access and self-archived resources” (6) – are students given enough support and guidance to navigate resources on and off line?

“Of the total survey sample, 30% used Google or Google Scholar as their main source to find the research information they sought.” (23)

“Evidence from the cohort suggested a tendency among doctoral students to download and store much more than they ever read in detail. Many downloaded things or viewed them online and then if they looked interesting they would commonly print them out to read them. Many cohort members commented on how they dislike reading (as opposed to scanning) on screen.” (23)

 

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