Transitions to Academic Success

Co-Chairs Emily Gonzalez, Professor of Natural Science and Patricia Schade, Professor of Academic Preparation

Fall 2010 and Fall 2015 Student Reading Survey Comparison Results 

The Transitions to Academic Success Achieving the Dream team started as a Staff and Faculty Inquiry Group. The goal of the team was to use Reading Apprenticeship as a way of improving student reading in gatekeeper classes to promote higher retention and completion rates. Our team of faculty and staff put academic literacy at the heart of student success. In short, students who can read well at the college level can succeed in college. In the Fall of 2009, our team created a student reading survey to find out both the habits and attitudes of male and female students at NECC. The team of faculty involved ranged from various disciplines including Chemistry, Business, History, English, Developmental English, Anatomy and Physiology, Dental Radiology, and Criminal Justice. This group of faculty met monthly for six years, held workshops, hosted two statewide Reading Apprenticeship Conferences, and practiced various Reading Apprenticeship strategies in their own classrooms. Reading Apprenticeship is a research based approach to literacy which engages students in collaborative metacognitive conversations that provide support for socially constructed reader identities within the classroom and enhance student motivation, engagement and agency in reading.

As a post measurement in 2015, we conducted the survey again to find out if any of the student reading habits or attitudes had changed. In the Fall of 2009, 340 students completed the survey and in the Fall/Spring of 2015/2016, 366 students completed the survey. The survey asked questions to get at the invisible aspects of reading such as reader identity and attitudes, reading behaviors, and types of reading students engaged in. Some additional questions that were focused on new trends in technology were added to the survey in 2015. So what, if anything has changed in six years? Have we pushed the needle in supporting literacy at the college level?

Summary of Results

The most prominent improvement was seen in the reader identity measurement (Question 1), particularly male students identifying themselves as readers at an increase of 9%. Since reader identity is the so called linchpin for motivation and agency in literacy, the improvement is a positive outcome. Combining literacy and identity promotes the idea that literacy is social and cultural and tied to the values, practices, and beliefs of the larger culture (Barton, 1994; Bloome, 2005; Gee, 1996; Street, 1995). They say culture beats strategy, but here at least we can say the reader identity culture at Northern Essex Community College has been enhanced by Reading Apprenticeship strategies which create a social context in the classroom for academic literacy.  Question 2, on types of reading materials not surprisingly had an increase in online reading (blogs, text messages, twitter) and a decrease in reading magazines and paper texts. This could be the result of more faculty using Open Educational Resources as classroom texts, and it also indicates the general trend of students spending more time online. We made good progress on students’ increasing their awareness and application of metacognitive reading strategies (Question 3). Students reported more visualizing, marking texts, summarizing, and linking new information to old information. The only category in this section that showed a decline was students persisting in reading when confused. This actually is a good sign as one of the goals in using Reading Apprenticeship is for students to notice when they are confused and to focus on solving reading problems (Schoenbach, 2012). For Question 4, the affective nature of reading, most pre and post results did not change significantly.


Barton, D., Hamilton, M., & Ivanic, R. (2000). Situated literacies: Reading and writing in context. New York: Routledge.

Bloome, D., Carter, S. P., Christian, B. M., Otto, S., & Shuart-Faris, N. (2005). Discourse analysis and the study of classroom language and literacy events: A microethnographic perspective. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Gee, J. P. (1996). Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourses. New York, NY: Routledge

Schoenbach, R., Greenleaf, C., Murphy, L. (2012). Reading for understanding: How Reading Apprenticeship improves disciplinary learning in secondary and college classrooms, 2nd edition (pp. 1–6). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Street, B. (1995). Social literacies: Critical approaches to literacy in development. Ethnography and education. New York, NY: Longman Publishing.



ID 15440

To contact this college about this intervention, take note of the ID above, ID #15440, and then fill out the intervention contact request form

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