Understanding Critical Reading Skills at Scale

Understanding Critical Reading Skills at Scale

Emily Schneider, Iris Howley, and Candace Thille

Critical reading is an essential skill for participants in the civic dialogues and workplaces of the 21st century. When learners read, however, it can be challenging for instructors to provide feedback because the learners’ reading practices are difficult to directly observe. Digital, social annotations are a novel data source for making visible the reading strategies used by students as they engage with challenging texts. This work presents a major step towards the creation of “critical reading analytics” by using digital, social annotations to identify commonalities in college student critical reading strategies across a diversity of settings and texts. We synthesize prior research on critical reading to develop a data-driven, parsimonious taxonomy of core critical reading strategies. The taxonomy is successfully applied to N=2,000 annotations from three distinct institutions.