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Call for Proposals: Reading across Disciplines

Reading across the Disciplines: Studies in SoTL (edited by Karen Manarin, Professor of English, Mount Royal University)

This collection of essays will explore how higher education students read from a range of disciplinary perspectives and a range of educational settings, including technical schools, undergraduate and graduate studies, and professional programs. Faculty from many different disciplines are concerned that students cannot or will not read for academic purposes as they see students struggle with the transition to college reading (Joliffe and Harl, 2008). Arum and Roksa (2011) claim that students even select courses to minimize reading. However, the absence of engaged and effective reading prevents individuals from pursuing and contributing to the disciplines and limits participation in a literate society.

While reading is a pressing issue across higher education, much research into reading focuses on K-12 contexts. At the higher education level, most research focuses on specific groups–like English as a Foreign Language learners or students with print-related disabilities–or specific moments in controlled experiments. Instructors from various disciplines may find it difficult to translate these insights into actions to improve student reading in their classrooms. The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) offers a more accessible entry point for faculty looking for ways to support their students’ reading. Building on insights from disciplinary literacies, this collection welcomes both SoTL studies and essays informed by SoTL from various disciplinary perspectives.

Hutchings (2000) identified four categories of SoTL studies: “what is”–descriptions of what is happening as students learn (or fail to learn) in specific contexts; “what works”–studies that evaluate the effectiveness of particular approaches; “visions of the possible”–explorations of the goals of teaching and learning; and “theory building”–development of theoretical approaches that can be applied to particular classroom studies. This collection welcomes contributions in any of these areas to create new knowledge. This collection also welcomes essays informed by SoTL: these are case studies or reflections where the authors apply existing SoTL literature to a particular disciplinary context or problem in reading. Submissions should not be published elsewhere or under consideration elsewhere.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

How students read

  • Reading strategies
  • Reading guides or organizers
  • Annotation and reading
  • Notetaking
  • Summary and paraphrase
  • Reading paper vs. online
  • Reading for a particular disciplinary context
  • Reading as a solitary activity or as a group activity
  • Preparation for reading
  • Making reading visible
  • Individual differences in reading

Why students read

  • Reading compliance activities
  • Consequences of reading or not reading
  • Reading and motivation
  • Positive or negative incentives
  • Reading and affect
  • Social or cultural contexts of reading
  • Politics of literacy

What students read

  • Reading difficult material
  • Reading for pleasure
  • Reading textbooks
  • Reading equations
  • Reading graphs and charts
  • Reading maps
  • Reading films
  • Reading cultural artifacts
  • Reading scholarly articles

Types of Reading

  • “Deep” reading or “close” reading
  • Meditative reading
  • Skim, scan, and search
  • Reading as a writer
  • Reading as a novice vs. reading as an expert
  • Reading “thresholds”
  • Reading and faculty development
  • Re-reading

A prominent academic press has indicated interest in the project; however, the proposal based on submitted abstracts as well as the completed essays would need to go through rigorous peer review. A tentative timeline is below.

By February 15, 2018: 500 word abstracts and brief biographical note to be submitted to Karen Manarin at In the abstract please indicate how your work builds on or contributes to existing knowledge. Use the Chicago author-date system for any references.

By February 28, 2018: Decision on abstracts communicated to authors. Revisions requested if necessary.

By May 15, 2018: Proposal submitted to press.

We don’t know how long the review process for the press will take; however, you should plan to submit a complete draft (5000 to 7000 words, using Chicago author-date system) to Manarin by December 15, 2018. Essays will undergo a first round of peer review before submission to the press for further review. Acceptance is contingent upon successful peer review and ability to meet deadlines.

For more information or to seek feedback on an idea, please contact Karen Manarin at

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