How to get students to do the reading

1.  Dedicate time at the beginning of the module to explain what needs to be read. Set an in  class exercise: 

  • provide introductory reading (around 20 minutes)
  • ask students to underline anything that is noteworthy (interesting, difficult, contentious, etc.) .
  • then pair students up and get them to discuss what they have underlined
  • then share some examples to whole class

Repeat this strategy throughout the course (limiting time to 10-15 minutes) 

2.  Teach the students how to read actively. What questions should they pose to the text? How should they note take?

3.  If possible, link the reading clearly to the assessment tasks. Consider book reviews and annotated bibliographies as forms of assessment.

4.  Set clear reading expectations each week and check whether this has been done at the beginning of each session.

5.  Clarify that reading for academic purposes is an acquired skill. They need not understand everything at first. Advise they build up the amount they read in independent study each week.

6.  Clarify that the more they read, the better their writing will become. Many students do not know this.

7.  Tell them that high marks can come from reading beyond the set references. Many students do not know this.

8.  Lectures should not substitute for the reading but act as an encouragement to do it.

9.  Do not overwhelm students with long lists. Tell them what is essential to read. Tell them that they do not have to understand everything.

10. Use your own publications. Students like to see their teachers’ work.


Bean, J.C. (1996). Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Borasi, R., Siegal, M., Fonzi, J. & Smith, C.F. (1998) Using Transactional Reading Strategies to Support Sense-making and Discussion in mathematics Classrooms: An Exploratory Study. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 29 (3) pp. 275-305. (Link)

CTLS (no date), Getting students to read [online]. Accessed at:<>

TLT Group (no date), Resources [online]. Accessed at: <>.