Interactive reading is the key to academic success, students say

Written by: 
Geena DeMaio
Kenzie Howells, a senior studying TESOL from Laie, helped teach a workshop about interactive reading on Oct. 16.


To help avoid distraction and prepare students for interactive reading, a workshop was held on Oct. 16 to encourage students to ask questions.

“Having solid questions helps you to stay focused,” explained Kenzie Howells, a senior from Laie studying TESOL.

Best practices before reading the text, Howells said, is to write short-term and long-term goals for the reading. She gave examples, “How could you turn this into a question? How do I look past the obvious? How do I make my goals to shift my vision? Can you explain what you just read? Can you summarize it in your own words?”

Joanna Huang, a sophomore from Taiwan majoring in hospitality and tourism management said, “I took the class and it’s very helpful to learn how to write a resume, and it helps me think outside of the class.”

“For me, I like to find facts when I read because we are preparing, but I like how she talked about looking in the headers and going into questions about the reading,” said Cameron Spendlove, a sophomore from Utah majoring in accounting.

Reading constructions such as introductions, bullet points, key phrases and summaries were reviewed in context of being internally interactive. “In academic fields there is a lot of structure and format. When you figure that out you save yourself a lot of trouble,” Howells noted.

Howells compared interactive reading to times she has gone to a movie and missed the first few scenes, and then had to ask her friends what was happening the rest of the movie. She said, “To skip the introduction in the textbook is like skipping the introduction in a movie and asking questions the rest of the time.” Howells recommended never skipping the introduction or heading in a textbook to avoid confusion in the rest of the reading.

Huang said, “It’s kind of overwhelming for me to read a textbook because English is not my first language. The instructor showed that it’s very useful to read the headings first and then you get the big picture of what the text will talk about. Then you have the direction and the sense, so you are ready to get the information.”

If the reader cannot read everything, bullet points were recommended to look over to understand content. “It’s better to have read everything than to have remembered nothing,” remarked Howells.

Howells expressed the importance of adjusting to the students’ needs when tutoring. “Not everyone has the same school background. The way they are typically taught somewhere else is not necessarily the way it’s taught here in the U.S. or this campus. Learning to adapt makes the students feel comfortable and use their strengths to make the tutoring session most effective.”

Instructor Background

A memory Howells shared was the opportunity to teach as a lab student once a week for classes English 101 or ENG 315. In thought of a meaningful experience that stood out to her, she shared, “It was my first semester as a lab student. I was working with an English 315 student, and partly through the semester I got an email from the teacher saying that they had noticed a big improvement in their students’ papers.” The professor further noted that whatever Howells was teaching was making a difference in the student’s progress which inspired Howells to continue.

Howells earned her associate degree from University of Utah Valley in high school and has taught in Japan on her internship with Mikuni, a BYUH integrated private college. She said most of the students at Mikuni are applying to the English program so they are working on their English proficiency to get accepted into the colleges they want in the U.S.

Howells has been a Reading and Writing Center tutor for the past two and a half years with an emphasis in reading. “It doesn’t feel like a student job at this point. It’s exactly the type of experience I need for my field,” Howells expressed.

“There are so many good students here. They are part of the reason I fell in love with it, and now part of the reason why I want to go experience their [Japan] now. While I was there on my internship I fell in love with the food and the culture and it’s a great place to have work experience too.” She said she also wants to learn a new language.

Although the tasks initially appear daunting to teach, Howells explained she strives to be a facilitator in transferring content to the students and expressed her confidence in their abilities.

“Most of the people that come in to get tutored by me already know so much, they just don’t realize it. So that is my favorite thing, saying, ‘What don’t you know, let me fill it in’. But all the progress they make is them. That’s why I loved it so much, because it’s their accomplishment, I’m just there to help them realize that,” Howells said.

“I’ve learned to be a better collaborator and working with individuals. I’ve also learned that you can make a lot of progress. It’s motivating for me to see where a person can start and where they can finish at the end of a semester.

“Opportunities and abilities differ. I believe that in the pursuit of education, individual desire is more influential than institution, and personal faith more forceful than faculty.”

Howells agreed as she has previously remarked, “It’s a testament to what you can do because not everybody is that interested in writing or reading, but they can make a lot of progress. It’s different for them where they are and that’s okay, as long as you are making progress from wherever you started.”


Date Published: 
Friday, October 26, 2018
Last Edited: 
Friday, October 26, 2018