Web Reading Strategies of College Students

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					Web Reading Strategies of
    College Students
        Jim McGlinn, UNCA
   Content Area Reading SIG, IRA
            May 2, 2006
1.   The Internet is a vast Information Resource with
     increasing use in the work place and in schools.
• 1999 800 million pages of information on the World Wide
         Web (Wozniak, 1999).

• 2001   Internet at work: 41.7% of the workforce, 80.5 %
         of managerial positions (Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, &
         Cammack, 2004).

• 2002 Internet at home: 60% of all households
       Internet at school: 92% of classrooms in the US
       (Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, & Cammack, 2004).

• 2003 Teacher use of Internet: 77% of public schools
       (73% of high poverty schools); most teachers
       use the Internet during instruction (Fox, 2005, p. 42).
2.      Educators are citing the need for new literacies.

     • The competitive pressures of the global marketplace
       have caused companies to incorporate collaborative
       teams at all levels. The work skills needed in these
       transformed companies include the abilities to: problem
       solve, work in teams, communicate with others, and
       access and use information efficiently and effectively
       [italics added] (Leu, 2002).
             The need for new literacies
As we conclude this volume year of Reading Online…
[m]ore than ever, we, as teachers, need to be mindful of
literacy uses in practice as we educate children to take
their place as literate individuals in society.

Part of what teachers confront has to do with
understanding what counts as literacy in children’s lives
and in the world around them. While what we might call
the “traditional” forms of literacy -- reading and writing
alphabetic characters -- are and will continue to be a part
of everyday life, they are now being enacted within an
electronic world rather than a world of paper and pencil.
This electronic world is changing the way in which
alphabetic literacy is used, and it also places new
demands on children as they become literate [italics
added] (Kinzer, 2003).
                        New Literacies definitions
• Basic Literacy: Language proficiencies using conventional literacy.

• Information Literacy: The ability to search for and hence access appropriate
  information across a range of genre, formats and systems. The ability to sift,
  scan and sort information.

• Technological Literacy: The innate ability to discover how a new or evolved
  technology operates; recognizing its limitations and benefits. The ability to
  choose the most appropriate tool to access and process information and
  present new knowledge & understanding.

• Media Literacy: The ability to synthesize a wide range of viewpoints/
  interpretations from a variety of media and build a concise model of
  understanding of those ideas.

• Cultural Literacy & Global Awareness: The ability to manage information in
  the ―global village‖.

• Critical Literacy: The ability to identify key aspects of information validity
  such as accuracy, objectivity, authority, currency and coverage.
  (Treadwell, n.d.a)
3.     In response to the call for training in these new
       literacies, educators have identified literacy skills
       appropriate to reading on the Web.

     a. ―Internet readers are reading expository text in hypertext
        format where ideas are connected by links, headings,
        icons, and graphics. Yet Internet readers appear to
        apply similar reading strategies as those used with print
        text reading [italics added]” (Schmar-Dobler, 2003)

     • Seven comprehension strategies for reading
       activate prior knowledge, monitor comprehension, repair
       comprehension, determine important ideas, synthesize,
       draw inferences, ask questions (Pearson, Roehler, Dole,
       and Duffy (1992) cited in Schmar-Dobler, 2003).
    b. Information Competencies

        Students will need to demonstrate:
•   an understanding of the nature and operation of information
    and communication technology systems and learning tools
    within the school.
•   an ability to be critical of information and be able to discern the
    reliability, appropriateness, relevance and suitability of the
    information source that they are investigating.
•   an ability to select the most appropriate information or
    communication tool, and apply it in a manner that will allow
    them to best answer the task, question or quest that they have
    been set or they have set themselves.
•   that they can access, a variety of information sources,
    synthesize the content of the various resources, analyze the
    content and then develop a better model of understanding of
    the topic or concept that is being investigated.
•   an ability to present the information, the quest, the task or
    assignment in a variety of formats using a variety of
    (Treadwell, n.d.b)
   c.   Guidelines for Reading on the Web

• Get an overview – skim for main ideas to see if the article will be useful.

• Evaluate the article’s quality—start by checking to see if its source is

• If you decide to read intensively—first, read through the article ignoring the
  links; then reread following the links that are relevant to you.

• Take notes—three choices:
        1.      Print article and take notes as usual.
        2.      Open up a word processing program and type your
                notes as you read from the browser.
        3.      Cut and paste key information from clipboard to notes.
                But beware plagiarism.
(Fastfacts: Reading and the Web--Reading from computer monitors, n.d.)
4.      To understand better what skills and strategies
        students need to read on the Web, I studied skilled
        readers as they worked on Web assignments.

     • 21 students in my Reading and Writing in the Content
       Areas class, Spring 2006, which meets for 75 minutes
       twice per week
     • 16 undergraduates, 5 post baccalaureates
       Approximate ages: undergraduates—21-22; post
     • Licensure areas: art 7, English literature 6, social studies
       4, science 3, mathematics 1
Research Design

• Web Reading Assignment: ―Leveling the playing field and raising
  African American students’ achievement in twenty-nine urban
  classrooms‖ (McKinley, 2003. 8 pp.).

• Four comprehension questions worth 13 possible points total.

• Survey of reading strategies followed Web Reading Assignment.

• Web Project: Complete an online workshop on Web Projects
  (McGlinn, 2006) and develop a Web Project to use in teaching.

• Unannounced quiz on Web Reading Assignment two weeks after
  the assignment, followed by survey about the different strategies
  that they had used on the two different types of assignments.

Table 1

  Comparison of Average Comprehension Scores on Immediate
  and Delayed Responses

  Time of response      Comprehension Score1 Percent
  Immediate (open-book)   12                 92%
  Delayed (closed-book)   8.9                68%
  n = 21
  113 points possible
Table 2
Survey of Web Reading/Responding Strategies
•      Rate the usefulness of this article in your preparing to teach by circling the appropriate
       1. not much use             2. of some use           3. very useful
       Explain why you rated the article as you have.

•      List the steps you followed in responding to the reading assignment. Be careful to make
       explicit exactly what you did as you responded, including how you read the article and how you
       wrote the answers to the questions. For example, indicate if you printed out the article in order
       to work with it, whether you used the cut and paste function, and how you used it if you did,
       whether you marked up the article in some way, whether you opened up another browser or
       Microsoft word as you answered the questions, etc.

•      If you printed out the article in order to work with it, tell why you did this. If you did not print out
       this article, discuss when you do print out online articles assigned. What are the factors that
       cause you to print out the article?
•      As you read, did you:
       *Read the whole article or most of the article before answering any of the questions?
       *Read part of the article and then begin answering questions?
       *End up reading all or most of the article, or just the parts needed to answer the questions?

•      In responding to the questions did you cut and paste from the article any of your answers to
       the questions?

•     If you did use the cut and paste function, did you reword the answer in your own words? Why
      or why not?
 Table 3
 Reading Strategy Survey for Web Reading Assignment

Group       Usefulness Read online         Read to answer    Read whole Cut and Paste
             rating (ave.)*                questions*         article*
                            #, %            #,   %            #, %           #, %
High Group        2.5       4, 67          3, 50%             5, 80%         1, 16.7%
Low Group         2.0       5, 80          5, 80%             2, 33%          2, 33%
n = 6 for each group
* factors with greatest difference in response between the high and low groups
    Table 4
    Reading Strategies for the Web Project
                  Skimmed Web sites        Read in depth           Expressed interest or
                                        on project on article      had fun with project
   __________________#,__ %________    #,__ %__     #,__ %________    #,__ %______

High Group               5, 80%         2, 33%     2, 33%           3,    50%
    Low Group            0,  0%         2, 33      0,   0%          4,    67%
    n = 6 for each group
   Table 5
   Students’ Comparative Ratings of Web Reading
   Assignment and Web Project
   _Group             More Motivating             More Beneficial
                Article   Project Both    Article      Project    Both
   ____________#,__%___#,__%__ #,__%__    #,__%___ #,__%___ #,__%___

  High Group   0, 0%   4, 67%   2, 33%   0, 0%     3, 50%    3, 50%

  Low Group       0, 0% 6, 100% 0, 0%   0, 0%     5, 80%     1, 16.7%
  n = 6 for each group
    Table 6

    Students’ Reasons for Their Preference of the Project
    Over the Web Reading Assignment

   Factor:              Choice Interest Usefulness Action Creativity Technology Fun

   # of Responses         2       4        4         3     4         2      1
   n = 10.
•   Students with high scores tended to value the content of the article and to read the
    whole article rather than to read only to answer questions.

•   Some students from both groups used the cut and paste function to answer the
    questions. They reported changing the answers to their own words except for
    questions which called for specific answers.

•   Most of the students who read the article online used two windows in reading the
    article and answering the question. Only a few students kept both windows up on
    the screen at the same time by reducing the size of the windows.

•   Students in the high and low groups reported different reading strategies when
    engaged in the Web Project. Eighty percent of the students in the High group
    reported using skimming of Web sites on the Project as they searched for relevant
    information. Thirty-three percent of the students in the High and Low groups
    reported reading in depth while engaged in the Project assignment.

•   In comparing the students ratings of the Web Reading Assignment with the Web
    Project, 83% found the Project more motivating and 67% found the Project more
    beneficial. The reasons students gave for their preference of the project included
    personal interest, immediate usefulness, and the opportunity for creativity afforded by
    the project.
Reading teachers should:
1.   Help students to see the importance of the assignments which they are asked to read.

2.   Choose reading assignments which have concrete and specific application in students lives.

3.   Encourage students to read the entire article and not just read to answer the questions.

4.   Instruct students about when the cut and paste function is appropriate in answering questions in reading
     assignments. It seems reasonable that lower level factual questions could be answered with cut and paste,
     while higher level questions would demand students’ own words. Students could use quotes to show when
     they are using cut and paste for verbatim answers.

5.    Facilitate student reading and study of online articles by showing them how to open multiple windows and
     how to have at least two windows open in a split screen set up when there are questions to be answered or
     directions to be followed.
     Also show students techniques for studying lengthy online documents without having to print them:
•    Save the document to a word file and open in a window.
•    Use cut and paste to reduce the article to its main ideas and important details.
•    Use the highlight function or the ―Insert Comment‖ function to mark up the article and to take notes. (Even the
     later Adobe Reader .pdf files can be saved as word documents and manipulated with these tools.)

6.   Be aware of the differences in motivation when students are given an assignment to read and answer
     questions compared to an assignment in which they create their own product based on their exploration of
     Web documents. Students are motivated when they can choose based on personal interests, when they see
     immediate usefulness, and they can be creative.

7.   Be aware that questions for students’ response when studying a Web page or article will lead to more focused
     reading, but not necessarily retention of information unless the value of the article is apparent to the student.
Fastfacts: Reading and the Web - Reading from Computer Monitors (n.d.) The Learning Commons, University of Gueleph.
     Retrieved 04/28/2006 from

Fox, E. (2005). Tracking U.S. trends. Education Week, 24(35), 40–42. Retrieved September 21, 2005, from

Kinzer, C. K. (2003). The importance of recognizing the expanding boundaries of literacy. Reading Online. Retrieved 04/28/2006

Leu, D. J. (2000). Literacy and technology: Deictic consequences for literacy education in an information age. In Kamil, M. L.,
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     Jersey: Erlbaum.

Leu, D. J., Kinzer, C. K., Coiro, J. L., & Cammack, D. W. (2004). Toward a theory of new literacies emerging from the Internet and
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McGlinn, J. E. (n.d.). Using Web projects in teaching. Retrieved 04/28/2006 from

McKinley, C. (2003). Leveling the playing field and raising African American students’ achievement in twenty-nine urban classrooms.
    Retrieved 04/28/2006 from

Sutherland-Smith, W. (2002) Weaving the literacy Web: Changes in reading from page to screen. Reading Teacher, 55, 7, 662-670.

Treadwell, M. (n.d. a) The emergent literacies. Retrieved 4/28/2006 from

Treadwell, M. (n.d. b) Information competencies. Retrieved 4/28/2006 from

Wozniak, P. (1999). Reading the internet. Retrieved 4/28/2006 from

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