Sharing Insights: Academic Reading Retreats at BERA

Angela Rhead, Learning Developer and Teaching Fellow within the Keele Institute for Innovation and Teaching Excellence, has presented her work on Academic Reading Retreats at the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference 2019.

Taking place across three days from 10-12 September, the BERA Annual Conference 2019 provides an opportunity for educational researchers to network, share best practice and exchange ideas with like-minded colleagues.

Angela’s work on Academic Reading Retreats resonated with several of the BERA 2019 conference themes: teaching and learning approaches, being an academic and being a student.

An exciting innovation in teaching academic literacy, Academic Reading Retreats provide a unique learning event where students and academics develop critical reading practices together. Angela’s research investigates the impact of these retreats on participants to inform local practices, and to enrich the community’s understanding of reading’s significance for academic literacies.

Angela explains:

“Academic reading is a significant but under-investigated aspect of learning in higher education. Our research has demonstrated that students and academics who take part in an Academic Reading Retreat report increased confidence in reading articles and better understanding of the challenges of ‘critical’ reading.

“Through this work, we hope to better understand, and raise awareness of the transformative aspects of Academic Reading Retreats; to develop and improve the student experience; and to further strengthen the case for the provision of space and time for interdisciplinary academic reading practices.”

Key discussion points included ways in which academic reading retreats encourage emergent disciplinary identities for students as ‘enquirers’, and how authentic collaboration between academics and students builds on notions of students as partners, offering learning development opportunities that engage staff and students in genuine exploration of one of the fundamental components of research.

Angela added:

“I was excited and a little nervous to be presenting a paper at BERA's long-established, international annual conference. My nerves, however, were unfounded: the collegiality of the event and the enthusiasm for the research presented on Keele's academic reading retreats were both outstanding. It was an opportunity to meet and to listen to long-admired voices, but also to establish new networks and collaborations.”