Active and Engaged Reading – kicking off two projects for 2016/2017

Ron Patkus, Associate Director of the Libraries for Special Collections and Adjunct Associate Professor of History. Taken for the Vassar Quarterly (VQ) Winter 2015 story "Distracted Reading in the Digital Age," December 2015
Ron Patkus, Vassar College

LACOL’s Active and Engaged Reading (AER) working group focuses on issues of reading in a digital age, including the goals and practices for academic reading as they evolve on our campuses.

To advance their shared inquiries, AER is launching two initiatives this year: a multi-campus survey on the teaching of reading, to be followed by a thought piece that reflects on reading-related challenges and opportunities for liberal arts educators and students.  A team of faculty, librarians and technologist from member campuses will collaborate on both projects, with coordination from AER’s co-leads, Ron Patkus, Associate Director of the Libraries for Special Collections and Adjunct Associate Professor of History at Vassar College (pictured at right) and hari stephen kumar, Instructional Designer and Associate Director of the Learning Collaborative at Amherst College.  (See a talk from kumar at LACOL2016.)

Multi-campus survey of teaching practices for reading across the curriculum

Throughout the liberal arts curriculum, there are numerous ways, old and new, that reading skills and related habits of mind are taught. To help document emerging pedagogies for reading, AER is embarking on an survey of selected faculty and staff across the disciplines at our member institutions. The survey questions and methodology are being developed jointly with input from the Institutional and Educational Research offices of participating colleges.

Active & Engage Reading Survey:

Via the survey, perspectives will be gathered on ways our faculty cultivate skills and guide students on ‘close reading’, skimming and other academically useful reading modes. Results of this survey will be used to fuel AER’s ongoing collaborative thinking; findings will also be shared with colleagues to promote further useful dialogue and joint research.

Thought Piece on reading for liberal education in a digital age

With results from the survey in hand, a core team of working group members plans to collaboratively author a two-part public thought piece on issues of reading in liberal education. The two companion pieces, a shorter op-ed for a broad audience and a more in-depth companion piece for educators, will aim to situate current trends historically and reflect on how our institutions can invigorate teaching of various reading practices throughout the curriculum.