Motivating Millennials: How to Promote Active Student Reading in an Online Era

Popular websites such as SparkNotes, GradeSaver, and Shmoop offer student-geared synopses of texts taught in the humanities. As instructors discover, even strong students often check such e-guides rather than trust their independent response to a work, while some students rely on these websites for their entire interpretation of a text, if not also as a substitute for the actual reading. The availability of online ‘study aids’ is clearly a temptation for students to let others do their critical thinking for them—the antithesis of the central goal of higher education. To combat these trends, we need to assess, redesign, and implement teaching methods that engage students while demanding critical reading and response. Motivating Millennials: How to Promote Active Student Reading in an Online Era aims to showcase diverse pedagogical strategies and theoretical approaches that address the realities of learning in the digital era. This collection focuses on innovative ways we can promote students’ engagement with literature and other primary texts in humanities courses. What types of activities and assignments encourage active reading and interpretation? How can we deter dependence on online text summaries and analyses? If consulting e-resources seems inevitable, how can assignments be shaped to re-direct student use of such sites and cultivate autonomous critical thinking skills? Finally, what theoretic frameworks or principles best support these classroom practices?

Please send a 500-700 word abstract for a 2,500-3,000 word essay to Natalie Mera Ford at and Christy Rieger at by Sep. 1, 2014.