Academic Reading Symposium

Becoming Well Read 2021

Becoming Well Read, Keele’s annual Academic Reading Symposium, draws together practitioners from diverse contexts and institutions to support an investigation of shared experiences and expertise, and to forge communities of practice that explore the development of academic reading.

Wednesday 31 March 2021

Following on from the highly successful event held in 2019, and picking up from where we left off so abruptly in 2020, this year's symposium, taking place via Microsoft Teams, will continue to explore this vital but often overlooked aspect of academic literacy. It will be valuable to anyone whose central focus is educational, learning or academic development, and to academic teaching staff who are looking for new ways of supporting their students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels - across all disciplines

This exciting, practice-focused day brings together experiences from a range of communities to explore academic reading practices, reflect on the challenges of teaching reading for academic purposes, and share interesting and innovative methods.

Registrations for BWR21 have reached capacity. We have limited numbers to maintain discussion and active exchange in workshop sessions at the symposium. We are sorry you can't join us but if you complete the form below to join the waiting list or our BWR mail list we'll let you know if places become available or let you know of future events early.


09:30 - 09:45   Registration / Joining

09:45 - 10:00   Welcome and Becoming Well Read Update, Angela Rhead

10:00 - 11:00   Parallel Sessions - delegates will be asked to choose from the following sessions:

 Parallel A
 Parallel B

Becoming well-read in online learning communities: Using Talis Elevate to support collaborative critical reading practices

Aimee Merrydew
Keele University

[Read more]

Learning Innovation Showcase: Hardware and software to support reading productivity and start conversations about reading

Dominik Lukes
University of Oxford

[Read more]

11:00 - 11:15   Break

11:15 - 12:15   Parallel Sessions - delegates will be asked to choose from the following sessions:

 Parallel C
 Parallel D

Reading and the institutional practice of mystery: Reading List Anyone?

Tracy Slawson
De Montfort University

[Read more]

Becoming well-read or reading well?: Academic Reading Circles as an innovative and inclusive practice

Milena Marinkova & Alison Leslie  
Leeds University

[Read more]

12:15 - 13:00   Lunch 

13:00 - 14:00   Parallel Sessions - delegates will be asked to choose from the following sessions:

 Parallel E
 Parallel F
 Parallel G

Language and Learning: two complementary approaches to enabling students to become well-read across the undergraduate curriculum

Christina Healey

[Read more]

Forming a professional doctoral reading and writing identity

Amanda French
Birmingham City University

[Read more]

Not seeing the wood for the trees: encouraging active reading

Laura Barclay
University of Portsmouth

[Read more]

14:00 - 14:15   Break

14:15 - 14:30   Keynote

The need to inspire academic reading within the university community: Reflections on encouraging staff to read academic books/journals in public spaces

Professor Karen Fitzgibbon Phd, PFHEA, Head of Student Experience in the Faculty of Business and Society, Prifysgol De Cymru | University of South Wales 

14:30 - 15:00   Reading (T)Walks

15:00 - 15:30   Walking Reflections, Karen Fitzgibbon

15:30 - 16:00   Closing Remarks, Angela Rhead

Undergraduate academic reading continues to resonate as an almost universally ‘sticky’ (Schon, 1987) threshold concept for higher level learning, with many students struggling to select, read and then use literature in their own research and writing. Saltmarsh and Saltmarsh’s (2008), ‘Has anyone read the reading?’ responds locally to flawed undergraduate reading practices, but also reflects a wider concern in HE about the academic ‘skills’ students enter university with (Hermida, 2009). A significant aspect of academic reading for students across all levels is often the challenge of discerning the levels of credibility or influence of particular sources (Moore, 2013). The requirement for independent reading, with increasing expectations of ‘criticality’, presents further challenges regarding the process of selection and the purpose of academic reading, compounded by the apparent discord between perspectives of students and staff on reading lists (Brewerton, 2014). This is particularly significant where a disciplinary view of criticality emerges from a student’s individual engagement with reading and their positioning in terms of its discourse, which locates reading as a social practice (Lea & Street, 2006).

Additionally, academic reading as a social practice can be considered a ‘conceptual threshold’ (Wisker and Robinson, 2009) that, unlike discipline-specific threshold concepts, describes epistemological cross-disciplinary knowledge that supports interdisciplinary discussion. Becoming Well Read hopes to draw together practitioners from diverse contexts and institutions to support an investigation of shared experiences and expertise, and to forge communities of practice that will continue to explore the development of academic reading beyond the event.

Locally, recent innovative strategies to encourage the development of critical academic reading include scrolling and textmapping within an extended timeframe to enable deeper learning (Marton & Säljö, 1976; Middlebrook, 1994; Singer & Alexander, 2017) in the form of Academic Reading Retreats. These retreats are small, one-day interdisciplinary workshops that bring undergraduates, postgraduates and academics together to explore the processes of reading for enquiry, in which we attempt to precede (or circumvent) narrative reading and encourage “dialogic engagement with the text “(Abbott, 2013, p.198) to uncover the easily recognisable, but difficult to explain, intuitive practices of confident academic readers (Moore, 2013). We are eager to situate our emerging findings with other educational practitioners and to contribute to a debate about this significant, and persistently troubling, aspect of learning.

Abbott, R. (2013) ‘Crossing thresholds in academic reading’, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, Vol. 50 (2), 191-20.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Brewerton, G. (2014) Implications of Student and Lecturer Qualitative Views on Reading Lists: A Case Study at Loughborough University, UK. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 20, 78–90.

Hallett, F. (2013). Study support and the development of academic literacy in higher education: A phenomenographic analysis. Teaching in Higher Education, 18(5), 518-530.

Hermida, J. (2009) The Importance of Teaching Academic Reading Skills in First-Year University Courses. The International Journal of Research and Review, 3, 20-30.

Hill, L. & Meo, A.I. (2015). A Bourdieusian approach to academic reading: reflections on a South African teaching experience. Teaching in Higher Education, 20(8), 1–12.

Hockings, C. (2010) Inclusive learning and teaching in higher education: a synthesis of research. HEA, April 2010.

Lea, M. & Street, B. (2006). The "Academic Literacies" Model: Theory and Applications. Theory Into Practice, 45(4), 368-377.

Macmillan, M. (2014). Student connections with academic texts: a phenomenographic study of reading. Teaching in Higher Education, 19(8), 943-954.

Marton, F., & Säljö, R. (1976). ON QUALITATIVE DIFFERENCES IN LEARNING: I—OUTCOME AND PROCESS *. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 46(1), 4-11.

McAlpine, L. (2012). Shining a light on doctoral reading: Implications for doctoral identities and pedagogies. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 49(4), 351-361.

Saltmarsh, D. & Saltmarsh, S. (2008). Has anyone read the reading? Using assessment to promote academic literacies and learning cultures. Teaching in Higher Education, 13(6), 621–632.

Singer, L., & Alexander, P. (2017). Reading on Paper and Digitally: What the Past Decades of Empirical Research Reveal. Review of Educational Research, 87(6), 1007-1041.

Wingate, U. (2006). Doing away with ‘study skills’. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(4), 457-469.