IMPROVING POST-SECONDARY READING COMPREHENSION: A RESEARCH-ACTION-TRAINING PROJECT
Many of Quebec’s CEGEP (pre-university general and vocational college) students struggle to understand complex texts, and we have seen an increase in the number of enrolled students who have difficulty with the texts they must understand to succeed. We have also seen a lag in the teaching practices used to help these students. Indeed, although CEGEP teachers are experts in their fields, they are not required to undergo teacher training. Nevertheless, various models of “academic literacy” have been developed, for example, in the United States (Jetton & Shanahan, 2012), focusing on specific ways of reading in various disciplines (e.g., text construction, discursive logic, vocabulary, reading strategies), and some approaches (e.g., Reading Apprenticeship; Schoenbach, Greenleaf, & Murphy, 2012) propose teaching strategies that enable teachers to incorporate their own disciplines’ specific ways of reading into their practice.
Our research-action-training project aims to:
1) identify and analyse reading comprehension difficulties perceived by teachers;
2) analyse reading materials and course tasks to be completed;
3) incorporate elements of the Reading Apprenticeship (RA) approach into course planning.
We will present the results based on a mixed analysis with 18 teachers regarding the comprehension difficulties they perceive among their students. We will then report on the various ways to incorporate and utilise reading in courses from various disciplines prior to teacher training. Finally, we will present examples of lesson plans in which teaching practices inspired by the RA approach were incorporated by teachers participating in the project post-training. The implementation of this project and the results obtained are innovative in the context of higher education because they are concerned with the reading difficulties of post-secondary students, training teachers from various disciplines in reading comprehension strategies, and helping teachers adapt their practices to reflect these strategies. Finally, the results contribute to the body of knowledge that can enrich academic literacy models in post-secondary education.