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This is another in a series of interviews with 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 QEP Spotlight series features Dr. Jon Endonino, assistant professor, Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work:

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

A: My initiation into QEP at EKU was somewhat recent and it came during professional development activities through TLI with Lisa Bosley and Jill Parrott. Initially it was to increase student desire/willingness to read after finding myself frustrated in my attempts to have class discussions. The students hadn’t read or if they did read they weren’t retaining the content or approaching the materials critically. Not until participating in a couple of TLI workshops did I come to realize most students don’t know how to read academic writing and often felt lost or overwhelmed by the volume of information sometimes presented. I’m pleased to report that the situation is improving.

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

A: Anthropology is holistic and the four subfields (cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, archaeology, and linguistic anthropology) are interrelated and mutually informative; therefore it is important to be able to read across the sub-disciplines. Equally, it is also important to read allied social and natural sciences. Most importantly, I want students to understand what they are reading and retain that. Metacognitive strategies learned and developed through QEP, for both the students and myself, provide powerful tools for achieving these goals.

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

A: Through professional development (PD) activities I have incorporated metacognitive strategies into ANT 351W Archaeology, a required writing intensive course. Through improved reading comprehension, I strive to help students translate that into improved writing skills. I incorporate techniques I learned in PD into discussions and have developed a lecture delivered early-on in the semester on “how to read like an expert.” For me, reading for my profession developed during graduate school and became intuitive and non-discursive. Over time, while teaching at EKU, I came to realize that even when students did read assigned material, they didn’t always understand, and not from a lack of trying or ability. They were simply overwhelmed by information. Through QEP-oriented PD, I came to see that skills I developed over time and somewhat unconsciously could be taught to students and, with practice, they could develop those skills and read like an expert.

Q: What impact is the QEP having on student learning in your discipline?

A: Critical reading is a skill that develops over time and so it can be tricky to assess QEP’s impacts in that area without a long-term perspective. However, anecdotally I can say that teaching student’s metacognitive strategies and helping them to become better readers of anthropology has produced positive results. Students report feeling more comfortable tackling peer-reviewed publications in the discipline and come away with a better understanding of the material.

Q: How does the QEP benefit the campus community?

A: One immediate benefit of QEP is producing educated citizens with a skillset promoting life-long learning. Incorporating QEP is an important contribution to the campus community, commonwealth and country. A citizenry equipped to read and think critically and make informed decisions is vital when “fake news” and pseudoscience pervade social and popular media.

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

A: Going forward, I will continue integrating critical reading skills in my courses through teaching metacognitive strategies for reading course materials as well as further encouraging students to be critical and ask questions of what they read, in conducting their own research, and beyond the classroom and outside of the university as engaged and informed citizens.