Main Article Content
The textbook is the Waterloo of History education. Even the most student-friendly books are often shunted to the side by students who are resistant to reading on their own.
Despite this hostility to the textbook, it is an extremely important tool for broad survey courses where not all material can be covered in class. For my work at an open-access college in a public university, where many students lack any background in history beyond the basics of the American narrative, a class without a textbook is not a realistic option.
I have attempted to address this problem by making reading a point-earning exercise. In particular, I have had students take open-book online quizzes based on their textbook reading. While this is one measure of student reading, I am not convinced it is the best method for promoting reading (rather than hunt-and-search for quiz answers) and processing material. For this reason, the problem being researched here is to compare the use of two popular means of assessing textbook reading. I will therefore investigate whether the use of learning blogs (summarizing and commenting on an assigned reading unit) better promotes textbook reading than reading-based quizzes as described before. In addition, I will discuss what insights surveys of student attitudes toward reading might give instructors.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Cohen, D. (2005). By the book: Assessing the place of textbooks in U.S. survey courses.
Journal of American History 91 (4): 1405-1415.
Cutler, D. (2014, January 31). Down with textbooks. The Atlantic. Retrieved from
Divoll, K. & S. Browning (2013). ‘Read the text, as if!’ The reading retention strategy.
International Journal for the Scholarship and Learning, 7 (1). Retrieved from
Egbert of Liège & trans. R.A. Babcock (2013). Egbert of Liège, the well-laden ship.
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Original publication
Fink, L. (2005, September 16). Making textbooks worthwhile. Chronicle of Higher Education.
Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Making-Textbooks-Worthwhile/30965.
Gurung, R.A.R. & R.C. Martin (2011). Predicting textbook reading: The textbook
assessment and usage scale. Teaching of Psychology, 38 (1): 22-28.
Heiner, C.E., A.I. Banet, & C. Weiman (2014). Preparing students for class: How to
get 80% of students reading the textbook before class. American Journal of Physics
82 (10): 989-996 .
Hsu, H., & S. Wang (2011). The impact of using blogs on college students' reading
comprehension and learning motivation. Literacy Research and Instruction, 50, no. 1 (2011): 68-88.
Lehmann, J. (2015). Civilization versus barbarism: the Franco-Prussian war in French history
textbooks, 1875-1895. Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society, 7 (1): 51-65.
Jaschik, S. (2007, August 20). Why students read textbooks (or don’t). Inside Higher Ed.
Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/08/20/texts.
Juban, R.L. & T.B. Lopez (2013). An exploration of textbook reading behaviors.
Journal of Education for Business, 88: 325-331.
Landrum, R. Eric, R.A.R. Gurung, & N. Spann (2012). Assessments of textbook usage and
The relationship to student course performance. College Teaching, 60 (2012): 17-24.
Marcell, M. (2008). Effectiveness of regular online quizzing in increasing class participation
and preparation, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2 (1). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/ij-sotl/vol2/iss1/7.
Nokes, J.D. (2011). Recognizing and addressing the barriers to adolescents’ “reading like historians.” The History Teacher, 44 (3): 373-404.
Phillips, B.J. & F. Phillips (2007). Sink or skim: Students’ textbook use in introductory accounting. Issues in Accounting Education, 22 (1): 21-44.
Reisman, A. (2012). Reading like a historian: A document-based curriculum intervention in urban high schools. Cognition and Instruction, 30 (1): 86-112.
Swanson, R. (2014). A relationship analysis: A professor, 500 students, and an assigned
textbook. The History Teacher, 47 (2): 289-302.
Weimer, M. (2011, October 7). The teaching professor blog: Student perception of textbooks and
the factors that influence reading. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/student-perceptions-textbooks-features-that-influence-reading/.
Williams, J.B. & J. Jacobs. (2004). Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the
higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20 (2): 232-247.