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Posted on November 10, 2016

College What's New

Northern Essex Community College Sees Positive Change

Faculty, staff, and students at Northern Essex Community College (NECC) in Massachusetts are continuing to see meaningful changes in the student reader identity culture on their campus following several years of campus-wide Reading Apprenticeship. In a recent report, the NECC Transitions to Academic Success Achieving the Dream team shared student reading survey results that provide a look at NECC before and after their decision to implement Reading Apprenticeship.

In 2009, the NECC team came together to improve student success in “gatekeeper” courses, which are the first level of college courses in any given subject. The goal of the NECC team was to increase student retention and completion rates in these courses by improving students’ academic literacy through Reading Apprenticeship.

For the next six years, the team headed a cross-campus implementation of Reading Apprenticeship holding monthly meetings, incorporating explicit literacy learning practices and collaboration into their classrooms, and leading workshops for faculty, including organizing two statewide Reading Apprenticeship conferences.

To inform their plan for instructional change and measure the impact of their work, the cross-disciplinary team created and distributed a student reading survey in 2009. The survey questions were designed to reflect multiple facets of the reading process, including: reader identity, reading behaviors, and the different types of text with which students engaged. Baseline data showed that only 35% of male students considered themselves readers, compared to 54% of female students. Students’ use of metacognitive reading strategies was varied, from only 45% of male readers marking texts as they read, to 84% of female students using visualization (see figure 1 below for more details).

Figure 1

Figure 1

The survey was issued again in 2015 and showed positive changes. More students reported that they considered themselves readers, with the highest increase among male students, which rose 9%. Students’ use and awareness of metacognitive reading strategies also increased, with reported improvements in marking up texts, visualizing, summarizing, and connecting their reading to prior knowledge, which rose as much as 12% in some categories (see figure 2 below for more details). The team members were gratified to see such demonstrable results. As authors Emily Gonzales and Patricia Schade said in their report, “They say culture beats strategy, but here [at NECC] we can say the reader identity culture at Northern Essex Community College has been enhanced by Reading Apprenticeship strategies.”

Figure 2

Figure 2

To learn more about the kinds of work done by NECC faculty and the changes they saw in their students’ performance on coursework and other measures of student learning, visit the Success Stories section of our website!

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