It can be very frustrating when students just don’t seem to engage with their reading assignments. But don’t lose hope—there are strategies on how to get college students to read more that can really make a difference. Let’s explore these together.

  • Design compelling assignments: Try to create assignments and discussions that truly require students to dive into the readings. Focus on critical thinking and analysis rather than just checking if they did the reading. This can make the material feel more relevant and engaging for them. 
  • Frequent low-stakes quizzes: Short, unannounced quizzes can be a game changer. They keep students on their toes and encourage regular reading without adding too much pressure. 
  • Diversify reading materials: Sometimes, traditional textbooks may feel a bit dry to students. Mixing in articles, essays, and even multimedia resources can make things more engaging and cater to different learning styles. This variety may spark more interest. For students who find traditional reading challenging, consider providing audiobooks or other accessible formats. This can accommodate different learning needs and make the material more approachable.
  • Provide reading guides: Giving students focused questions or prompts can help them zero in on the important points and encourage deeper understanding. These guides can make the reading process more manageable and less overwhelming.
  • Encourage annotations: Ask your students to annotate their texts with questions, connections, and reactions. This can make reading more interactive and helps with class discussions. Seeing their thoughts on paper may make them more confident in sharing their ideas. 
  • Implement think-pair-share: Encourage students to reflect on the reading individually, then discuss in pairs before sharing with the class. This method can help them articulate their thoughts and hear diverse perspectives, making the material more relatable. 
  • Student-led discussions: Assign different sections of the reading to various students and have them lead the discussion. This approach can deepen their understanding as they prepare to teach their peers and makes them feel more invested in the material. 
  • Connect to current events: Show how the readings relate to contemporary issues. Making real-world connections can spark students’ interest and make the content feel more relevant. This can help them see the value in what they’re learning. 
  • Clear expectations and support: Be transparent about why the readings are important and how they tie into course goals. Offering resources on reading strategies and time management can also be helpful. When students understand the purpose, they may be more motivated to engage. 

Getting students to read more is definitely a challenge, but it’s not impossible. By integrating reading into your curriculum, promoting active reading strategies, and engaging students through varied methods, you can help them develop a deeper appreciation for reading. Addressing common barriers and providing the right support can make a significant difference.

By adopting these strategies, we can create an enriching learning environment that values reading and equips students with the skills they need to succeed in their academic and professional lives. Let’s keep encouraging our students and showing them the incredible world that opens up through reading. 

References:

  • https://www.brandeis.edu/teaching/resources/reading-resources.html
  • https://www.niu.edu/citl/resources/guides/instructional-guide/encouraging-students-to-read.shtml
  • https://www.ucdenver.edu/tips/resources/blog/TIPS-blog-how-to-get-your-students-to-read
  • https://www.umass.edu/ctl/resources/how-do-i/how-do-i-design-my-class-so-students-engage-fully-readings