The Importance of Teaching Academic Reading Skills In First-Year University Courses

12 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2009

Date Written: June 14, 2009


Success at the university level mainly depends on existing pre-entry college attributes, including the mastery of some fundamental academic skills. These include –reading, writing, critical thinking, oral presentation, and media literacy. Despite the importance of these skills for academic success, professors seldom teach them. They generally take them for granted, as they tend to presuppose that all students already acquired these skills either as part of their secondary education or elsewhere in college. The reality is that most first-year students lack academic reading skills, especially because University-level reading greatly differs from High School reading. Thus, most students employ non university strategies to read academic texts, which results in students taking a surface approach to reading. This paper discusses some strategies, examples, and resources aimed at promoting students to take a deep approach to reading. The major tenet of this article is that if teachers explicitly teach students how to read academic texts in aligned courses where students have ample opportunities to engage in reading activities throughout the term, students are more likely to adopt a deep approach to reading. It begins with a discussion of the difference between a surface and a deep approach to reading. It then recounts an action research study conducted to analyze whether explicitly teaching academic reading skills, coupled with the introduction of teaching and learning activities designed to encourage students to actively engage in deep reading in aligned courses, makes a difference in the approach students take to reading. Then, the paper explores the categories of analysis needed to read academic texts and the importance of aligning courses. Finally, it discusses teaching and learning activities aimed at fostering students’ adoption of a deep approach to reading.

Suggested Citation

Hermida, Julian, The Importance of Teaching Academic Reading Skills In First-Year University Courses (June 14, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Julian Hermida (Contact Author)

Algoma University ( email )

1520 Queen St. East
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario P6A 4G4


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