Getting Students to Engage with Course Readings

Jul 29, 2020 by Mohsin Raza

                                               (Maximizing Student Engagement with Course Readings)

Have you ever struggled to get to do required readings? Do you treat them as optional? Perhaps you do the readings, but when you are asked to get engaged in critical discussion or think deeply about the material, most of you are unable to do so. If any of these scenarios resonate with you, read on!

In this article, I will introduce you to different activities to motivate you to do the required readings and think critically about them.

Jigsaw readings

In the context of course readings, there are two ways to do a jigsaw activity. The first is to read in class, and the second is to assign the readings for homework. Both approaches work well and are similar in their execution, involving only a couple of minor adjustments.

The idea is that each student will read only the text assigned to them and take notes on the important points so they can teach the content of their reading to other students in the class. When it comes time to teach their peers, students work in groups and take turns explaining their readings. When they are not explaining, they take notes on the readings being explained to them. Once all the information has been shared, the instructor leads a follow-up activity. This activity could be a discussion, a problem-solving exercise, or some other activity that can only be done with the information gleaned from all the readings.

Benefits of this activity

The benefits of a jigsaw activity include students’ working together, learning from each other, and thinking critically about the readings by identifying the main points and teaching them to others. Jigsaw activities also encourage community and collaborative thinking.

Reading discussion roles

Students are assigned a role the week before the discussion takes place. Each role has a particular “task” that they must complete during the discussion and task is made clear to them when their role is assigned.  In the intervening week, students complete the required reading(s) (everyone reads all texts identified by the instructor) through the lens of their role. When they come to class the following week, they bring with them their preparation and take part in discussion according to the requirements of their role.

Benefits of this activity

Because this approach is highly structured, students know exactly what they are supposed to do. Students engage critically with the material, and they learn from each other as they work collaboratively. The discussion leader role helps students practice time management and managing their group members.

Collaborative quiz

For this activity, students do a quiz individually and then in teams, based on a reading assigned the week before.  If they do best on the individual quiz, they can keep that score; if they do better on the group quiz, they can take the average between their individual and group marks.

Benefits of this activity

Students learn together and from each other. They also learn from their mistakes.


Since applying these strategies in classes, you will no longer dread required readings. You will come to class prepared and participate actively and as a result feel that you have received good value; the readings have become an interesting and useful component of the course.

Written by

Muhammad Aamir

Muhammad Aamir

Muhammad Aamir is a Fellow Member of Institute of Cost & Management Accountants of Pakistan (ICMAP) with cumulative experience of 10+ years in the profession. He is an M.Phil in Economics & Finance; in addition, he is also Certified Internal Control Auditor. His diverse academic & professional background from economics, finance and audit gives him a unique & captivating teaching skill which in turn enhances students’ learning experience.

Previously, he has worked with KPMG (Audit & Advisory section) and was also associated with Mutual Fund sector of Atlas Group as Manager Finance. Currently Muhammad Aamir is associated with one of private sector university as an Assistant Professor in Management & Economics department. As a facilitator, his objective is to enable students to develop ability of critical thinking & logical reasoning so that intellectual broadening can be inculcated in them.

TSB Education

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