Friday Fun Day: Readings to improve Participation, Peer Support, and Content Knowledge

Thursday 3:00pm Ritchie Hall: 368

Author

Kyle Fredrick, California University of Pennsylvania
While the action of reading is not a common barrier for science majors, reading comprehension is a limiting factor for many students. Geoscience students' performance depends on their ability to access and assimilate information, much of it containing new terminology and unfamiliar technical writing styles. The lack of reading comprehension skills throughout the student population is a growing problem, widening the achievement gap during a cohort's progression. Students that struggle with comprehension spend their time less efficiently, get frustrated and procrastinate, and generally lack confidence. We have identified three barriers related to poor reading comprehension skills: (1) diverging skills and content knowledge within a cohort, (2) a perceived disconnect between content, research, and relevance, and (3) a lack of time management. We devised a recurring class activity that encourages students to participate, support their peers, and improve reading comprehension. They are assigned readings a week in advance of each "Friday Fun Day," a 15-minute, game-style activity at the start of Friday lecture periods. Students draw numbers and are asked a corresponding question. For the two-point activity, all students present are awarded three points for correctly answering a majority of the questions or one point for failing to meet that standard. Learning gains are encouraging, but only anecdotal for now. Student attitude surveys reveal exciting results, especially related to self-confidence, attendance, and engagement in class and within their major. Overall, the method has improved class participation, increased student learning, and may even improve student writing. The method is flexible and might be adopted for multiple formats. Faculty from other institutions are being recruited to use and modify the method for their own purposes in hopes of finding strategies that may be implemented across a wide range of grade levels, class sizes, and content areas.