‘Trying to Teach’ Tuesday

I’ve been told that reading a book and “listening to a book on tape” are not the same. In other words, if I read a book from cover to cover, I would understand and absorb the material better than if I were to listen to the same words being read to me by another person. Is this true?

Do you or would you allow your students the option of listening to a book instead of reading a book? What’s the difference? If listening to the spoken word is not valid, then why do we sometimes read passages out of books during class and ask our students to listen?

BTW, ALL faculty may comment; including our retired faculty members.

One thought on “‘Trying to Teach’ Tuesday

  1. There are two questions this raises:

    First, are all people better visual-text learners (looking at a book, etc.) or hearing-text learners?
    Second, what affect does the power of moving at one’s own pace have on learning?

    In regard to the first, I imagine that most professors are better visual-text learners. But we are largely self-selected for that. In most disciplines, you’re not going to get through grad-school if you need your books read to you. Our students, on the other hand, probably vary. At least that is the in-vogue answer of our times (and sometimes its a cop-out for people who have poor reading skills).

    In regard to the second, the pace at which the reader can control the intake of information and the ease at which a reader can skip to different parts of the text has a significant affect on how well the reader can read critically and comprehend the text. And for that, books on tape simply do not provide the control that a book does.

    I can see this working differently for different kinds of text. When reading a novel for a literature class, it makes sense to do a pass-through with an audio book. But on subsequent readings, it is probably important to be more careful to reread sections and let the reader’s thoughts on the text guide the reader’s reading, rather than the order of the plot.

    Personally, I often read out loud to myself when at home. There is something I get from both seeing and hearing the text at the same time that allows me to remember it better and pay greater attention. But I suspect this is one of the luxuries of living alone.

    As technology improves, this might change. Imagine a Kindle that works much faster than the current model (which I hear take a couple seconds to turn a page, compared to the fraction of a second it takes to turn the page of a paper book). Combine that with a audio component that can skip around just as quickly. Then the “control” issue no longer exists, and students can really just decide what to read based on whether they are better text-visual vs. audio-visual learners.

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