Join us in an interview of Elizabeth Specker in our very own (EMRA) Reading Awareness resource lab at ARC.
Students benefit from viewing their own reading patterns. During a one-on-one session, discuss an individual's strategies and abilities such as pre-reading skills, scanning skills & patterns, strategies to use with unknown words or difficult passages - all on an individual basis. Materials can be adapted to a student's course and reading level. Students can option to read more than once and view progress and changes in reading proficiency over the course of one semester or over multiple semesters. Students can also compare reading patterns in 1st and 2nd languages, or with expert readers. Discussion and self-reflection are part of an EMRA reading experience to raise awareness of personal reading habits and choices.
A 30-45 minute workshop tailored to the level and materials used in class. Instructors choose strategies and learning points to focus on. For example, a workshop about pre-reading strategies may include reading exercises intermixed with a powerpoint video illustrating what an 'expert' reader does with pre-reading skills using the same exercises. Students can compare their own reading habits with a visual example of an expert reader. Workshops help students focus and become aware of their own reading patterns through examples, practice, discussion and supportive reasoning.
The Eye Movement & Reading Awareness resource Lab (EMRA lab) is a place where instructors and students can meet to investigate and reflect on reading together.
Many students feel that they have problems reading, understanding, and remembering their textbooks and assignments. The EMRA resource lab can help by illustrating to students and instructors where and for how long a student is looking at words on a page, areas of a page, or on a website or video. It also illustrates where a student is NOT looking or reading.
The eye tracker camera records a student's eye motions so that a "map" is made of the order and the length of time of looking (a fixation) for an individual student. It is a small camera that sits below the monitor. It uses light reflected off of the reader's eyes and some complicated algorithms to estimate where the reader is gazing (looking). All the reader has to do is look straight ahead at the computer monitor.
The recorded "map" can illustrate good reading habits (and poor habits, as well!) for students. Discussion of the map can help a student focus on different strategies for improving reading habits and being more successful in the classroom. It can be printed out, or watched as a video.
The EMRA resource lab can also be used by instructors and students to record improvement over time. Multiple sessions can be recorded so that students and instructors can visualize and adapt reading and learning strategies. This can be particularly useful for English as a Second Language students.
The EMRA lab is a great place to start and continue to work on reading strategies for all students. ESL students can often get frustrated by reading because not only do they have to work through new vocabulary and unfamiliar grammar, but also cultural inferences and connections that can be opaque. The EMRA lab is a useful tool to help garner confidence in reading in a different language or in a challenging text by showing how much a reader CAN do when reading.