Reading Initiative

  • Reading Matters Initiative

    Reading Matters Initiative



Some of the entries here are accompanied by notes regarding their contents.  Any of the following articles without direct links to accessible copies are readily available from WRAD on request; just ask us!

The first three references arguably constitute the "baseline" for the most recent attention paid to the challenge of helping students toward the reading comprehension levels that underlie the "critical reading" we want them to do.   These pieces have had considerable influence not only at the post-secondary level (ours), but also at the secondary level (what our incoming students have been through).

The following resources should apply to our students in our classes.

  • From our own faculty, this downloadable reading and research guide ("Guidance on how to read and locate research articles..." in the CADV Course Toolbox) was developed by Dr. Virginia Huynh from the Department of Child and Adolescent Development (CADV). 
  • Anderson, Richard, et al. (1977). Frameworks for Comprehending Discourse. American Educational Research Journal, 14(4), 367–381. [This, along with Bransford, et al., below, is a classic piece on the role of “schema theory”—background knowledge, even beyond vocabulary, and including knowledge about culture that various reading requires, knowledge that provides for different (often crucial) levels of understanding.]
  • Bean, J. C. (2011). Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass.  [A very helpful overview of approaches that are accessible and useful for a range of courses and topics]
  • Bransford, Brown, and Cocking. (2000). How People Learn. The National Academies Press. Retrieved December 29, 2012 [a copy is available from WRAD; contact us and we'll send it]
  • How to Read Like a Writer | Writing Spaces. (n.d.). Retrieved February 8, 2013, from
  • Pace, D., & Middendorf, J. (Eds.). (2004). Decoding the Disciplines: Helping Students Learn Disciplinary Ways of Thinking: New Directions for Teaching and Learning Vo. 98. 2004. Jossey-Bass. [This is a set of articles about the importance of (sometimes repeatedly) providing explicit access to the fundamentals (which become implicit for practitioners) involved in entering and working at learning in a discipline, treating disciplines including history, psychology, astronomy, and biology, for example.  An overview website is here:
  • The Answer Sheet - Willingham: Reading Is Not a Skill--And Why This Is a Problem for the Draft National Standards. (2009). Retrieved December 21, 2012, from


  • A set of videos from our own campus, directed to students themselves, and usable in classes, Hillary Kaplowitz (Academic Technology), Lynn Lampert (Oviatt), and Mira Pak (Secondary Ed)   (CSUN)

CSUN Websites

There are a number of resources on the Academic First Year Experiences site.  For example, archived on AFYE is set of resources from a WRAD (Writing and Reading Across Disciplines) workshop on reading.

The Learning Resource Center provides a range of services for students addressing both disciplinary reading and  and writing challenges.

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences has its new  Social Sciences Writing Project, directed by History professor Dr. Miriam Neirick, providing students with a range of workshops treating specific writing topics, and in selected courses, teaming faculty with student mentors to provide students with discipline specific writing support.

WRAD (Writing and Reading Across Disciplines) has a website, as well--always under construction.

External Websites

Sites providing helpful general overviews—for students and faculty:

Bowdoin College—Reading in History

Six habits to develop in your first year at Harvard

Some common reading myths

There are helpful links to other resources on this site as well:

How to read a college textbook—differently from what you might think

Sites addressing more discipline specific perspectives on college reading:

Natural Sciences

A student created video about how to read academic journals

A UC Berkeley site providing graduate student instructors with guidance about how to support students' critical reading and research: