Using OER Reading Guides to Help Students Read the Textbook and Improve Exam Scores




Shaffer, Justin

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While textbooks are used ubiquitously in college biology courses for content dissemination, studies have shown that students frequently do not read the textbook or have a difficult time understanding the content within. To address these issues, course and textbook-specific reading guides can be used to provide students with a way to actively engage with the required readings for class. The OER reading guides direct students to read specific textbook passages and to define terms, explain concepts in their own words, summarize information with tables and drawings, and answer in-chapter questions. Examples of reading guides will be shown from different STEM disciplines (including biology, anatomy and physiology, chemical engineering, and biomedical engineering), and best practices for developing OER reading guides will be presented. Additionally, data and results from a prior study on the efficacy of using reading guides in a large introductory biology course will be presented. The results suggest that optional, no-stakes, OER reading guides which assist students with reading their textbooks may help students acquire course content in a transparent fashion which results in improved exam performance.