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The Writing Requirement Package | The Reading Requirement Package

> Introduction  

Background | Aims | Reading comprehension | Designated reading | Assigning reading to students before a lecture

I. Introduction to the Reading Requirement


In order to pursue its goals of trilingualism and biliteracy, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University is preparing to enhance substantially its language instruction with the new four-year curriculum. As part of this enhancement, with regard to English language reading in particular, the Policy and Implementation Guidelines on the R and W requirements of CAR subjects (June 2010) state that all students are required to complete one subject that includes a requirement for reading an extensive text in English within their CAR subjects with an "R" designation.

In order for a CAR subject to be eligible for an "R" designation, it must include a reading of an extensive text (100,000 words or 200 pages). If appropriate, the reading requirement can be fulfilled by the reading of a small number (but no more than 4) of manuscripts / texts with the same total word / page count.

Students, in order to be eligible for an "R" credit for the subject, are required to participate in instructional and assessment activities which aim at assisting them to acquire the appropriate reading skills and to demonstrate their understanding of the extensive text concerned. These activities are to be organized and conducted in consultation with the ELC staff. The assessment of the reading assignment accounts for a substantial proportion of the final grade for the subject.

The overall objective of CAR subjects is to expand the intellectual capacity of students beyond their disciplinary domain. This needs to be accomplished in "an academically rigorous manner" challenging students to "analyze a major or local issue from multidisciplinary perspectives, and to tackle the associated problems holistically". In order to help learners achieve such commendable goals, intellectual, as well as cognitive activities that cultivate literacy, higher order thinking and life-long learning should be formulated and some corresponding instructional guidelines and tools for teachers running CAR subjects with an "R" requirement are to be highlighted in this set of handout in this respect.


This pack

  • defines different levels of reading comprehension that student are required to achieve so that CAR subject teachers guage the expectations underlying for fulfillment of the "R" requirement. This will enable the subject teachers to facilitate reading activities and assessments more effectively.
  • provides CAR subject teachers with some instructional guidelines and ideas on how to engage students in reading academic research articles, text books and texts of substantial length both inside and outside the classroom;
  • offers CAR teachers some reading-related activity sheets / templates that can be adapted to facilitate reading both inside and outside the classroom; and
  • lays down tentative reading assessment criteria and proposes some assessment tasks for CAR subject teachers to assess students' reading outcomes, as well as their reading proficiency during their reading process


Reading comprehension

Comprehension of reading is a complex process. Though there are many ways to examine this process, the three-level taxonomy put forward by Thomas Barrett (Clymer, 1968) may serve as a starting point for us to look into the issue of how students comprehend by highlighting the levels or types of comprehension students do when reading. The three levels of comprehension purported by Barrett are as follows:

  • First level : literal or factual comprehension

Literal or factual comprehension refers to the straight-forward understanding of the information that is explicitly stated in the text and this level of comprehension is heavily reliant on the information presented in the text.

  • Second level: inferential comprehension

Inferential comprehension refers to information that is not explicitly stated in the text. This level of comprehension allows students to infer or guess the implied messages through calling up their relevant prior knowledge or experience in order to obtain a more comprehensive picture of the text. Apparently, inferential comprehension relies significantly on both the text and the readers.

  • Third level: critical or evaluative comprehension

Critical or evaluative comprehension involves students making judgments about various aspects of the text such as the literary quality of the text, the coverage of the content, the comprehensiveness and validity of the arguments and, the flow of the reasoning. This level of comprehension, obviously, relies on the text itself, yet to an even greater extent, it requires students to make personal judgments and evaluation, which could also be considered to be inferences, about the text and the messages derived are highly dependent on the individual and unique background of the readers.

To engage students' thinking and problem-solving skills so as to better equip them for their university and professional life, all three levels of comprehension outlined above are important and need to be fostered.


Designated reading

Reading materials, which are relevant to the CAR subjects concerned, should include:

  • an extensive text (100,000 words or 200 pages), or
  • a small number (but no more than 4) of manuscripts / texts with the same total word / page count, if appropriate


Assigning reading to students before a lecture

To foster students reading and help them develop a stable and rewarding reading habit, it is suggested that they should be assigned a manageable piece of reading (e.g. a chapter of a book) for a specified period of time (e.g. one to two weeks) on a regular basis throughout the whole course. After finishing a particular part of the assigned reading, teachers, with an aim to reinforce and consolidate students' work and effort, could revisit some key concepts with students, ask them to discuss what they have read in class, or, assess their reading progress through different means.

The amount of reading to be assigned to students each time greatly depends on the total amount / length of the reading involved and the design and duration of the course.


> Engaging students in reading
> Assessment
> Templates for reading activities

About this website

EWRite is an open access online literacy platform for PolyU community that has two major objectives:

  • to support PolyU students’ literacy development within and across the disciplines
  • to support subject and language teachers to implement system-level measures for integrating literacy-sensitive pedagogies across the university

This platform provides access to generic genre guides representing typical university assignments as well as links to subjects offered by faculties with specific disciplinary genres and relevant support materials.

The materials can be retrieved by students by choosing the genres that interest them on the landing page. Each set of materials includes a genre guide, genre video, and a genre checklist. The genre guide and video are to summarize the genres in two different ways (i.e. textual and dynamic) to fit different learning styles. The genre checklist is for students to self-regulate their writing process. The genre guide and checklist include links to various ELC resources that can provide further explanation to language items (e.g. hedging and academic vocabulary).

The platform also acts as a one-stop-shop for writing resources for students, language teachers and subject leaders. Information about the English Writing Requirement policy can also be found on this platform. There are training materials for new colleagues joining the EWR Liaison Team.