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Questions & Rationale: This session will present an inquiry into student learning as measured by reading compliance and quiz scores. Students’ reading compliance has declined substantially over the past 30 years from over 80% to less than 20% (Burchfield & Sappington, 2000). Even in textbook-reliant introductory courses, students read less than 1/3 of the assigned pages (Gurung & Martin, 2011), and reading compliance significantly predicts exam scores and final grades (Sappington et al., 2002). Students who have not completed the readings are unprepared for class activities based on that material, which makes it difficult for instructors to move beyond content-delivery lectures.

One strategy for encouraging reading compliance is a graded reading quiz, which provides an external incentive for doing the readings (Ruscio, 2001). Further, short quizzes at the start of class, when paired with prompt feedback, are an effective teaching strategy (Connor-Greene, 2000). They reduce massed practice and procrastination (Maki & Maki, 2000) and provide feedback to students on the effectiveness of their studying (Rosenthal & McKnight, 1996).

One method for helping students get more out of the readings is to use reading guides (Herber, 1978). A reading guide requires the instructor to determine the learning outcomes associated with reading the assigned text and create a structured series of questions to guide students through the text, helping them to determine meaning and achieve basic comprehension and vocabulary (Horning, 2007). Reading guides, “model how to select, decide, and focus upon what textbook material is important to learn” (Helms & Helms, 2010, p. 109). Students perceive them to be helpful in learning lesson objectives and preparing for graded assessments (Helms & Helms, 2010), and students who complete them score higher on graded assessments (Meiss, 1983).

Methods: This project compared students’ daily in-class reading quiz scores across five conditions (sections of an introductory Child Development course): control, reading guide only, reading guide + on-line practice quiz, reading guide + on-line graded quiz, and reading guide + both on-line quizzes. At the start of each of 20 content days in the course, students completed a 5-item quiz over the assigned readings (half a textbook chapter). Except for the control section, all students had access to an instructor-designed reading guide for each of the 20 assigned readings from the start of the course. Students were encouraged, but not required, to complete the reading guides in preparation for class.

Outcomes & Reflective Critique: Results from the first four conditions suggest that the reading guides significantly increased student learning as demonstrated on daily in-class reading quizzes. Neither the on-line practice quizzes nor the on-line graded quizzes appeared to further increase in-class quiz scores, suggesting they added little value to students’ learning beyond the reading guides. Data collection from the final condition will be complete in May 2013.

Audience Engagement: The audience at this session will be invited to brainstorm ways to further develop and utilize reading guides as well as to discuss the teaching opportunities made possible by high levels of student reading compliance.


International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Annual Conference, Raleigh, NC