Some freshmen students read fluently and enthusiastically, some don’t. Some students have the skills to read and understand an academic article; others struggle to make sense of an op-ed piece. Students may not only have difficulty understanding the vocabulary of a piece (“ideology”, “institution”, “parameter”), they may also not understand references made to times, places, events and ideas that instructors (who read a lot) assume to be common knowledge (e.g. “the Great Depression”, “the Nuremburg Trials”, “trickle-down economics”). Click here for an example of a few of the words and references that were problems for a typically “good student” who came to the writing center for help with her reading assignment.
Below are some suggestions for how to assess students reading ability: