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Chapter 7: #17 The Cognitive Dimension: Assembling a Reading Toolbox

Hello All, 

I ask to students to write a summary of the text on paper. I use this to assess them. For students, this provides practice on their writing skills as well as sharpen their thinking skills. It allows them to sit back and think on their terms then put it all on paper as they understood and synthesized all of the information. I go around the room and ask students to share what they wrote. I believe in using several approaches to understanding text so students can find a way to retain what they have read.

Holly

Comments

Susan Finn Miller's picture
One hundred

Hi Holly, I think it's great to have students share their summaries the way you are doing in your classroom. Summarizing is an important skill for students to master, and it is one of the strategies most emphasized throughout this text. If students can summarize what they have read, this shows they truly understand. Summarizing requires higher order thinking, too.

Holly and all, I'm curious if you have found it necessary to teach students how to summarize? If so, how have you approached this?

Cheers, Susan

Moderator, Assessment CoP

Dr. Holly Sawyer's picture
Ten

Hi Susan,

Yes, I do find it necessary to teach students how to summarize. A lot of times students do not know how to deliver information, short and to the point. This is just as relevant as longer points such as essays. Think about our technological society, sometimes you are not given the opportunity to give a speech. You have to be able to give short points of information. I may ask students to provide a summary of a paragraph in 25 words or less. This is simply saying or asking, "what is going on in this paragraph?" I also think summarizing mass amount of information helps students break information down into small chunks for them to process better.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts on summarizing and approaches you use!

Best,

Holly

Rachel Baron's picture
One hundred

Yesterday, I had my students summarize a 5-paragraph article that they had been working on for a couple of classes. I told them to try to do it in 4-5 sentences, which was tricky for them. (I wonder if learning to prioritize when summarizing could carry over into prioritizing in other parts of life?) The best unforeseen effect of this was that the students started to try to cram more and more information into each of their sentences, making them refine their ideas and write more complex sentences in the process. Suddenly those transition and relationship words become really useful!
 

Susan Finn Miller's picture
One hundred

Rachel, Holly and all, I once read a book (sorry, I cant' remember the title or author!) in which the author indicated that most students need to be explicitly taught how to summarize in writing effectively. We can't assume that learners know how to do this high level skill. Thanks for sharing how you are supporting students to do so.

Cheers, Susan

Moderator, Assessment CoP

jenguter's picture
Ten

I've just been working on summarizing as a skill with my Chinese students. Because they are higher-level, pre-college students they are using summaries for both reading comprehension and preparation for writing projects. Because of the writing piece, academic integrity becomes important. So not only do we emphasize fewer, more general words encapsulating the main ideas, but also developing an authentic voice by expressing those main ideas with different vocabulary and sentence structure, plus documentation. Whew! This skill has a a lot of moving pieces. And I have found every piece needs to be included in some sort of explicit practice. 

Susan Finn Miller's picture
One hundred

Jen and all, Teaching summarizing, paraphrasing, and citing sources is essential for students who plan to enter college. Plagiarism is not viewed the same across the world, so we need to clearly explain what this means in an American context and what the consequences for plagiarism can be. I actually had a graduate student who was dismissed from the university after plagiarizing papers in one of my courses. In this case, the student was well aware of what she was doing. Yes, plagiarism is serious!

Cheers, Susan

Moderator, Assessment CoP

 

Dr. Holly Sawyer's picture
Ten

Hello Susan,

You are correct in that plagiarism is not viewed the same across the world. I taught at an international university in Virginia. Majority, if not all, of the students were from another country. A lot of my students from India would plagiarize. I informed them of the penalties of plagiarizing, but they had not heard of plagiarizing in the sense of how it is used in the American education system. It was an eye-opener for me. Clearly explaining to them what it meant and how to not do it, but teaching them how to site, summarize and paraphrase the original text, made a huge difference. I think, in turn, it made them better students and writers because they were able to learn something new and step outside of what they already learned in their education system back home. Yes, plagiarism is serious! I make sure to learn more about the student's background as well because some students just do not know!

Holly

Susan Finn Miller's picture
One hundred

Holly, You provided these students with vital information by explaining to them how we view plagiarism in the United States. Anyone who was educated outside the United States needs an orientation to plagiarism -- what it is and how to avoid it. American-educated students should have been taught this, but I am sure some do not understand how serious plagiarism is at the college level.

Cheers, Susan

Moderator, Assessment CoP

Rachel Baron's picture
One hundred

Many of my ABE and GED students never got into the grades or classes where plagiarism was discussed. Most of them know how to use quotation marks when someone is talking, but many aren't familiar with how they can be used to quote something that was written. I work hard to get them to put things in their own words, but until reading this conversation, I hadn't thought to explain the connection to plagiarism. It might be a good thing to discuss citations more explicitly with my higher level students. For example, they probably don't realize that even if you change the words, you must still say where you got the idea...

Dr. Holly Sawyer's picture
Ten

Hi Susan,

Thanks! I agree, anyone who was educated outside the United States needs an orientation to plagiarism! At the same time, I have taught courses and workshops on plagiarism to American students, yet some still refused to apply it. The reasons varied, yet I can never figure why even American students fail to grasp how serious plagiarism is at the college level or any learning level.

Holly

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