Blog 73

Teaching Commons Journal Club – Launch of Year 2

Lisa Endersby, Teaching Commons

The Teaching Commons hosted the launch of the second year of the Journal Club in mid-September. Our discussion of Making the Connection Between Research and Reality: Strategies Teachers Use to Read and Evaluate Articles (Shearer, Lundeberg, & Coballes-Vega, 1997) was an interesting exploration of not just what we read, but how we read and how we teach our students about academic reading.

The authors’ research focused on an exploration of how teachers read journal articles, asking participants to ‘think aloud’ as they reviewed a chosen piece. Coding of these explicitly spoken processes was used to propose several strategies that teachers may use for actively reading articles. For example, several participants were observed to be evaluating content based on their prior knowledge, current interests, and the overall style or format of the article. Participants also used a monitoring strategy to formatively assess, in real time, their own reading process by, for example, noticing and identifying when they were confused by a point in the article. Most noticeably, the authors discuss strategies for connecting the content being read with the reader’s experiences and current professional practice. A key insight from this article that informed much of our discussion was the notion that making connections is intrinsic to constructing meaning.

Our discussions began with a question as to whether what the participants in this study were modeling was an example of critical thought or reflection that could lead to these meaningful connections. Moving toward more critical analysis of journal articles was discussed as a journey marked by interest or motivation both for the topic under study and the underlying reason (perceived or expressed) for reading at all. The role of instructors in supporting students’ reading may then be, in part, to offer critical prompts or questions to guide the reading process, knowing that not all students may read sequentially (from beginning to end) and may instead select to focus on different sections of an article depending on their own interests or goals. This notion of sequential or selective reading also raised some interesting points around how both strategies can be present in reading a single article; we may skim parts of an article to take in major points while also reading some sections in depth for better understanding or deeper processing.

Of course, making connections when we read is only part of our professional learning. Professional development, and the insights it offers, are often more valuable when they can be applied. Our group identified several challenges for implementing new ideas from what we read, but also discussed how important these ideas can be for concrete projects that often demand innovative, data-driven insights to move forward.

How have or how are you going to apply ideas from this article and/or our discussion to your practice?

How might your students benefit from this research?

What opportunities can you see for further research or exploration on this topic?

Please join the conversation using the comments box below.

The Journal Club is an opportunity for colleagues interested in exploring innovation in teaching and learning to collaboratively read and discuss literature in the field. Participants are provided with a journal article identified as a topic of potential interest to be discussed in an informal gathering at the Teaching Commons.

Dates for the 2017-18 Journal Club are available on the Teaching Commons website. We invite all of our colleagues across campus to join us for conversation and networking.

Do you have an article to share or a topic you would like to discuss? Are you interested in leading a conversation of the Journal Club? Contact Lisa Endersby, Educational Developer (lendersb@yorku.ca).

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