Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Tips for Getting Students to Read - Part II

Question: Do your students read or ignore the picture captions and margin comments when they are assigned sections/chapters of the text?

Before we get to the tip, here are some stats to ponder and keep in mind as you plan for next semester's courses...

From the Kaiser Foundation:
    "...kids spend about six hours and 21 minutes per day on non-school media use, which equals about 44 hours per week."

The Pew Internet and American Life Project reports that:
"Three-quarters (74%) of college students use the Internet four or more hours per week, while about one-fifth (19%) uses it 12 or more hours per week. This is somewhat higher than the amount of time most students devote to studying: Nearly two-thirds (62%) reported studying for classes no more than 7 hours per week, while only 14% reported studying 12 or more hours per week."

According to Grunwald Associates 2003 report entitled: "Connected to the future: A report on children’s Internet use from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting":
    • Sixty-five percent of US children now use the Internet, representing a 59% growth rate from 2000. Preschool children are one of the fastest growing groups to be online with 35 percent in 2002 compared with 6 percent in 2000.

    • Eighty-seven percent of Caucasian and 98 percent of high income families own computers, whereas the rate of computer ownership among African – American families is 71 percent and among low income families it is 65 percent.

    • Online children between 6 and 17 reported using the Internet 5.9 hours per week in 2002 compared with 3.1 hours per week in 2000. The older the child, the more time spent online. For example, teenagers claim they spend an average of 8.4 hours per week online, 9-12 year olds report 4.4 hours, and 6-8 year olds report 2.7 hours per week.

And these surveys were from 2002 or earlier!

A thought...

When spending many hours doing one thing in particular (accessing/using the internet), one tends to get used to the format, norms, customs, layout and design of said activity. In essence, the "NetGen" (or internet generation) has been essentially trained to ignore the margins, small banners and peripheral text since on many webpages those represent advertising or information perceived to be unimportant.

Remind students that web page structure and layouts are often the opposite that of textbooks -- the diagrams, pictures, margin notes and peripheral text often add greatly to the overall understanding of the concept(s) being discussed in the main copy.

An excellent way to demonstrate this to them in a concrete fashion is to have students "read a page" in class and take a short quiz on it (for credit or not), focusing your question on the caption, picture/diagram or sidebar text only. (Note: be sure to find a page where the main copy doesn't relate exactly to the diagram/picture and caption shown... let them see that the two provide different types of information and can lead to different levels of understanding).

Enjoy their responses...

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