Why It’s So Hard to Get Students to Read the Textbook, and What Happens When They Do

“Do we really need to buy the textbook? It’s so expensive!” “Can’t you just summarize it for us?” “Would you just tell us what parts will be on the exam?” “It was so long and so boring. I couldn’t get through it!”

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What Textbook Reading Teaches Students

"Do we really need to buy the textbook? It's so expensive!" "Can't you just summarize it for us?" "Would you just tell us what parts will be on the exam?" "It was so long and so boring. I couldn't get through it!" Quotes like these indicate that many of our students want us to help them with the hard work of extracting difficult material and new vocabulary from their textbooks. They may use the term "boring" but what they really mean is difficult and time consuming. In turn, we sometimes fall into the trap of summarizing the textbook in our lectures and our PowerPoint presentations.

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