Why are academic reading and writing a challenge for college students?

Have you ever wondered why college students find reading and writing difficult? What help can be made from the academy for the development of academic texts by students? Do you know what the reading-writing process is and how it works?

Well, the British professor, Ursula Wingate gives us the answer to these questions. She is a full professor of education and language at King’s College London, United Kingdom; his research interests include the policies and practices of the English language and the language teaching methodology.

She is a joint editor of the Language Learning Journal; and part of the editorial board of two magazines on higher education. (Taken from his information page of King’s College London).

Wingate’s latest book: “Academic Literacy and Student Diversity: The Case for Inclusive Practice” (2015) is the one I chose as a reference for this post. This book, according to the Google Books portal, provides an overview of the approaches that have been made about academic literacy and its underlying theories; The book then aims to raise awareness of innovative literacy pedagogies and also supports the transformation of instruction that is done on academic literacy in all universities with diverse student populations.

√örsula argues that the didactics on current academic reading and writing are not adequate to serve diverse student populations, beginning because academic research has shown more interest in writing than in reading, which presents a problem since most of academic activities involve a “reading-writing” process.

The above means that a student reads to subsequently produce a writing related to what he or she has read, this requires the student to have the ability to perform an appropriate synthesis of the text information.

This direct approach to writing on reading presents a problem because the “reading-writing” model shows an existing link between one activity and the other, that is, it is essential to make a good reading in order to write a good text.

A notable problem is that students usually struggle with reading academic texts and even more when they have to write about them; This happens because university professors sometimes assume that students already have these skills developed.

The author exemplifies this by comparing first-year university students with second-language readers (L2) because although they have already activated their literacy skills, they must acquire new skills that allow them to know new genres at those who face higher education.

Then the discussion on the importance of knowing the academic genres comes into focus, since when students feel familiar with the different genres or formats that they will use throughout their careers, they will be able to understand how they are structured and thus write a text of that type; In addition, when the gender to which they face is known, they can prepare themselves and anticipate the communicative purpose of the same; In short, if the students know the genre they are reading, the reading-writing task will not be difficult and they will not be frustrated every time they have to read and write academic texts.

Another factor that determines the ability to analyze at the time of reading and writing is their academic and sociocultural background, students who come with a less privileged base in this aspect are usually not sufficiently prepared when they have to read and write academic texts in the college.

This shows that the fact that students are admitted to the university does not imply that they are fully competent to perform their reading and writing tasks, therefore, assuming that students already know how to read and write would be incorrect on the part of the teacher or tutor. .

In order to exemplify this point I decided to interview five students of different careers from a university located in southwestern Colombia, about how their training was at the level of academic reading and writing in their schools and how it helped or affected them when they entered university. , I will name them next, reserving their names, I will say their career and semester.

Student 1: is a student of Industrial Engineering in the third semester, comes from a private school in the capital of a department in the Colombian Pacific region, says that in his school the reading and writing activities were of great importance, they should be read monthly of three books and later made a writing about it, which was reviewed by the teacher three times before being delivered, however these activities were only done during the class.

In the university he found that writing was different from what he did in his school, he has only seen a writing subject in what he has been doing, and it was not obligatory to quote because it was enough to put the bibliographic reference. Finally, she shows that if reading and academic writing are difficult, “the most difficult thing is to know how to interpret critically, the analysis.”

Student 2: is a first semester student of Social Communication and Journalism, she graduated from a private school in southwestern Colombia, she says that her school never taught reading and writing, the only grade in which she began to produce texts Academics was the last year.

In the university, the activity of reading and writing has not seemed complex because he affirms that he has always liked these activities. However, he still does not know clearly the academic genres of his discipline.

Student 3: is a first semester student of Cinema and Digital Communication, studied in a public school in a municipality in southern Colombia. She states that at her school “from the ninth grade an effort was made so that the students could learn to read and write correctly.” They started with the writing of literary genres, and later they continued writing essays and reviews.

She says that in the university she has not been hindered in writing and reading, because she enjoys both tasks very much. However, he feels that some teachers do not seem to be very interested in accompanying students in their reading and writing process.

Student 4: is a fifth-semester student of International Marketing and Business from a public school in the Pacific coastal area of Colombia. She says that her school only emphasized critical reading in the tenth and eleventh grades. preparation for the State examination of secondary education ICFES.

On the other hand, in the university he affirms that in many subjects he is assigned reading comprehension works in which he must interpret texts; He also considers that teachers assume that students already know how to read and write academic texts.

Student 5: is a student of the fifth semester of Social Communication and Journalism, he graduated from a private school in the south of Colombia, he tells that in the school he only had a subject in grade eleven in which he was required to write although he could deliver any type of text regardless of what they would have asked for another genre.

In the university, he affirms that he has had a hard time reading and writing: “I have a hard time writing long texts, because I do not have a very developed level of argumentation, so I am left with the most basic idea. And the same goes with reading. “

Based on the above it can be seen that the ability of students to read and write academic texts depends on their previous experience doing both activities, some acquire it at school while others do it for pleasure.

It is important that if you are a student you look for the accompaniment of the teachers or tutors that can help you in the work of developing the academic text and on the other hand, if you are a teacher, remember to offer and offer support to the student in the difficult task of developing a text academic, in addition to guiding him through the genres of the academy, so that he can produce similar texts later on.

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