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This is another in a series of interviews with campus QEP leaders – those staff, faculty and administrators across campus promoting the goals of EKU’s Quality Enhancement Plan. The current QEP, Read with Purpose, calls for Eastern to develop critical readers through the use of metacognitive strategies. Building on the past QEP, which focused on developing critical and creative thinkers, this effort represents the University’s commitment to institutional improvement, and provides a long-term focus for faculty and staff professional development and student learning.

This installment in the series features Dr. Cindy Hayden, associate professor, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy:

Q: In what ways have you been involved with the EKU QEP, Read with Purpose?

A: I represent the College of Health Sciences on the University QEP Critical Reading Implementation Team. As faculty development chair in the Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Department, I worked with Dr. Lisa Bosley to present an in-service on the EKU QEP 2017 professional development structure to our faculty on Assurance of Learning day in fall 2016. Our faculty voiced high interest in the role of critical reading in their courses and were excited to learn more about developing metacognitive strategies to assist students to read with purpose. The goal of our department is to facilitate student development of discipline specific skills in critical reading in all three of our programs, the bachelor’s of science degree in occupational science, the master’s of science degree in occupational therapy, and the post-professional online doctorate program. To accomplish this goal, I worked closely with Dr. Lisa Bosley and Dr. Jill Parrott, co-directors of the QEP Implementation Team, to offer a six-week Critical Reading Professional Learning Community to our department. Over two-thirds of our faculty attended, and they have become very active in implementing Reading with Purpose into their courses.

Q: In what ways is the QEP relevant to your discipline?

A: Our students tend to be high academic achievers, so they are very familiar with the transmission model of reading where the text contains the meaning. A second model of reading is the transactional method, where the reader constructs meaning from the text. Students may not be aware of how context affects their interpretation of multimedia information.Faculty can guide, model and reinforce reflection on the meaning of reading in context and how readings shape understanding on key issues in healthcare in general and occupational science and occupational therapy in particular.

In addition to reading for academic success, students read for social engagement. Critical reading for social engagement involves analysis of knowledge leading to participatory action. Critical reading requires integration of word and world.  The interaction between the text and life experiences is bidirectional. Critical reading creates meaning and influences the kind of person our students are becoming. Also, I am struck by the connection of critical reading “making meaning” and occupation “doing what is meaningful.” In reading for social engagement, faculty can share with students their own areas of community engagement and research and structure opportunities for students to engage in communities beyond the classroom

Q: In what ways has QEP professional development impacted your teaching?

A: The Critical Reading PLC has reinforced the need for effective teaching strategies of:

1)      pre-class quizzes to ensure students are reading assigned material prior to attending class.

2)      modeling to students what critical reading looks like in our discipline.

3)      having students both ask questions and answer questions about the readings, take notes, summarize, and write personal and analytical responses to the readings.

4)      assisting students to shift preconceived ideas when there is compelling evidence in the reading by encouraging critical analysis and new knowledge formation.

5)      encouraging students to critically read text and multimedia of different perspectives and integrate learning from different courses.

6)      giving students “time to think,” allowing for deeper analysis of thought.

Q: What impact will the QEP having on faculty teaching and student learning in your discipline?

A: Faculty can guide, model and reinforce reflection on the meaning of reading in context and how the reading shapes understanding on key issues. Faculty can formulate explanations and share with students the different meanings of occupational science, occupational therapy and leadership articles and textbook chapters by modeling metacognitive strategies. Faculty can explicitly identify the purpose of critically reading assignments, rewrite rubrics which reflect grading for synthesis elements with less emphasis on format, and instruct students on rubrics incorporating an expectation for self-assessment of learning.Students can become more aware of and improve understanding of the different elements of critical reading: comprehension, analysis, interpretation, evaluation, analysis of knowledge, and connection to experience. Critical reading skills are the foundation for creative and critical thinking. In our profession, students graduate and work with clients to “empower lives through occupation.” Critical reading is essential for using published evidence-based research articles to guide best practice.

Q: How does the QEP benefit the campus community?

A: Developing critical reading skills influences cognitive, emotional and moral development. It prepares students to interact with a complex world in a thoughtful way. Students don’t realize that they can make small incremental changes in their world. Our curriculum includes a portfolio process that encourages students to engage in self-reflection. Reflective paper assignments encourage social engagement by providing opportunities to assess attitudes and habits of mind. Faculty can take more time when teaching to assist students in considering the implications of a reading and to choose to take action and change their behavior after reading a compelling article. As citizens of the world, when our students struggle with large world problems, it helps to embed the big issues with local context. Students are our future leaders. Equipping them with the skill of critical reading will enable them to become lifelong learners and change agents on campus and in the world.

Q: How will you continue to promote critical reading in your courses, discipline, or across the university?

A: As the result of our departments Critical Reading PLC, there have been numerous changes in teaching courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. It has positively impacted our curricula at the individual assignment level. Our faculty has developed four Scholarship of Teaching and Learning research projects, which are examining different aspects of embedding metacognitive strategies for critical reading in individual courses. I am conducting a program wide evaluation on how students develop the skills to critically read a scholarly article, which involves around 300 student participants. The results of these occupational therapy teaching and learning research studies will be disseminated on campus, at professional conferences, and submitted for publication in SoTL journals. Dr. Leslie Hardman and Jill Parrott have already presented at the Lilly conference at Miami University in Ohio last fall regarding EKU’s OS/OT Critical Reading PLC. Incorporating EKU’s QEP Implementation for Critical Reading is an ongoing process in our department, in the College of Health Sciences, and at Eastern Kentucky University.