Economic Justice and Access in the Classroom

Incorporating sustainable design into your courses can reduce the environmental and economic impact of purchasing printed textbooks. Textbooks may be helpful in standardized courses, where student learning is consistent across institutions (e.g. mathematics, anatomy, etc.); however, in interdisciplinary fields, requiring students to purchase textbooks can create barriers to accessing readings since expensive copyright permissions can limit the number of students who can access electronic and print copies of textbooks available through the library. Students who struggle to cover the costs of textbooks may forgo reading course material altogether.

Encouraging Reading: Strategies and Challenges

The following strategies aim to encourage reading among students at all stages.

Introductory Courses

  • Offer short excerpts of texts (especially theoretically or conceptually dense texts) and provide reading questions and/or group reading notes.
  • Spend time early in the semester workshopping how to closely read a text.
  • Remind students that full comprehension of a dense theoretical or technical text is not the goal of reading at this stage.
    • The goal is to familiarize yourself with technical and theoretical language, introduce new ideas and ways of thinking, and develop advanced reading skills slowly over time. You may return to these texts in future courses for more advanced engagement with the ideas, concepts, and arguments introduced during this class.
  • Provide previews of upcoming readings in class so students can know something interesting about how they will connect to coursework.
  • Teach reading strategies in class (e.g. a system of note-taking in the margins). Invite someone from the library or writing center to run a brief workshop with students on how to read and take notes.
  • Clarify how the reading connects to course material and topics.
  • Use a variety of mediums to appeal to different student preferences and assign denser material alongside lighter material (e.g. an excerpt of a theoretical text alongside a video or podcast).

Intermediate and Advanced Courses

  • Share your reading experiences to help model engagement with texts, share with students what you are reading and ask them about what they are reading.
  • Prepare students to read a previously read text differently by prompting them to pose different kinds of questions, sharing new or different passages that stood out in the reading, or a new insight from rereading.
  • Use advanced reading strategies, such as reciprocal teaching exercises to get deeper into the reading.


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Better Practices in the Classroom by Natalie Kouri-Towe and Myloe Martel-Perry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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