Reading Consciously (Cam Terwiliger and Christine Hamm)

Based on the discussions of metacognition in the first faculty development meeting of the fall semester, our group decided to encourage students to read more metacognitively, reflecting more regularly on their experience of reading a text in order to more effectively identify and navigate difficult passages.

Cam’s Experience

In my class, I assigned the essay “Pond Scum: Henry David Thoreau’s moral myopia” by Katheryn Schulz, in which she critiques Thoreau’s position as a foundational contributor to American letters. After reading, students took the attached “Read Consciously” quiz, which asks them to reflect on passages they found difficult, how they addressed them, what they enjoyed, where they did the reading etc.  (See quiz below.)

This quiz not only provided me with a window into the students experience with this particular text, but it also demonstrated the types of issues students more generally encountered when reading assigned texts. It also provided a great spring board into discussing the reading process and how to approach it. This was a feature of class we returned to with the subsequent reading assignments and it positioned students to be more thoughtful about their approach to reading throughout the semester.

Christine’s Experience

I was a little disappointed with the answers I got from the quiz, because they were all very similar.  That is, even the students who I had already seen had difficulty with reading gave answers very close to the students that excelled at reading.  Most of the students had similar experiences with the text (they found it confusing, and then read it until they understood.)Therefore, I was unsure how to use the information in a useful way.  I believe that I would get a wider variety of answers with my 1201-linked class, as I have given comparable quizzes in those sorts of classes and have gotten a variety of useful responses.   For example, I was able to pinpoint where some students stopped reading the text and gave up.  This was, later, a useful issue to discuss in that class.

The quiz was answered by about 16 students and reads as follows:

Metacognitive Quiz   English 1202  October 2, 2017   Name ________________________

“The Specialist’s Hat” by Kelly Link (

Answer in complete sentences.  Write 3-4 sentences per question.  Try to be as specific as possible.

  1. At what point in the text did you have to slow down or stop reading for some (any reason at all) reason?  What was the reason?
  2. What part of the text did you enjoy most and why?
  3. What sort of emotions did you experience as you read and why?  List at least two.
  4. Where were you when you started reading the this text?  Be descriptive.
  5. Sum up your experience with this text overall—from the first time you saw it until the last time you read it.