Reading Apprenticeship™ in Social Science

Social science texts are notorious for being lengthy, dense, and accompanied by rigorous exams.  Yet, as Kathleen Boddicker, Director of The Learning Center at Pierce College has explained,

There are no pre-requisites for most courses here (including mine) and more often than not, my students have not yet completed even the lowest levels of the English sequence before taking my class. This puts students at a disadvantage when they are faced with courses that are reading-heavy, or have reading that requires critical thinking skills and a sophisticated level of inquiry.  Despite the fact that the students are under prepared, I still have to teach the course according to the district Course Outline of Record, and cover the topics as outlined within that document. Given their level of readiness, this can be a challenging, if not daunting experience for both the students and me.

Laurel Beck, who teaches early childhood music and movement education at Pasadena City College, describes the daunting experiences she and her students have with the reading in her courses:

Whenever I announce a reading assignment, my students freeze, blanch and sink down in their seats. My heart sinks with them. Many of my students seem defeated before they begin. Clearly they arrive to class carrying a collection of painful reading experiences on their backs. This is exacerbated by a preconception that they need to know a lot about music in order to understand the reading (not true). So we are joining two areas in which they feel insecure.

Reading Apprenticeship™ can support both students and instructors in confronting these common concerns.

Instructors can learn:

  • How to uncover the ways of reading and chunking information specific to their discipline
  • How to model those effective practices for students
  • How to evaluate and scaffold texts to help students find a way “in”

Students can learn:

  • How to cope with extended reading tasks
  • How to approach reading as problem-solving
  • How to use texts as a support to, rather than an impediment to learning in the social sciences.