Asee peer logo

Making the Connection: Encouraging Technology-specific Reading Skills Through Structured Readings of Texts

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

ET Pedagogy II

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Vigyan Jackson Chandra Eastern Kentucky University

visit author page

Vigyan (Vigs) J. Chandra, Ph.D., serves as professor and coordinator of the Cyber Systems Technology related programs offered within the Department of Applied Engineering and Technology (AET) at Eastern Kentucky University. He received his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Kentucky in Electrical Engineering, and holds certifications in several computer/networking areas. He teaches courses on computer systems and applications, networking, communication systems, along with digital, analog, and machine-control electronics. He is the recipient of the 2013 Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence at Eastern and has been nominated multiple times for the Critical Thinking Teacher of the Year Award. His professional interests include implementing active teaching and learning strategies, metacognition, integrating open-source software/hardware with online control, and deploying electrical and telecom technologies in community-based organizations. He is always seeking opportunities for collaborating on teaching, scholarly, and service projects, especially those aimed at improving students' critical/creative and communication skills.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Over the past decade, we, as a society, have been growing accustomed to consuming bite-sized chunks of information. It is delivered to us over mobile devices with considerably smaller viewing screens than even laptop systems. Communication often takes the form of text messages, and social media feeds. For high-school students transitioning to engineering technology-related programs, these forms of communication are the norm. The thought then of wading through actual textbooks, particularly in engineering- or technology-related ones can be rather challenging. It is particularly so for students who may be underprepared for the fairly intensive technical reading required in addition to their science, math, and computing classes. These are essential skills for success in the 21st-century technology workforce. Alongside these, students need to learn how to adequately prepare students to read textbooks, technical documentation, whitepapers, conference proceeding, and journal papers related to their major. Given the fast pace of technological changes, graduates are likely to be doing much reading. The reading may be in the form of specification sheets, comparing system functionality, or reports while tracking down connections between specific pieces of information in a sea of data. It is the active reading of technical texts that is the focus of this paper and presentation. We promote its development using structured readings from the textbook, along with various in-class activities requiring students to actively use online search tools and summarize the information both verbally and visually. Note-taking in engineering and technology-related disciplines often includes numerous equations, detailed calculations, and diagrams. The use of graphical illustrations and icons magnifies the impact of the annotation. It results in visual consolidation of content, allowing immediate access to both the zoomed-in view of the topic, as well as potentially a pull-back view. With connections to autonomy, relatedness, and competency, purposeful reading engaged through the annotation process can motivate students to recognize themselves as future technologists.

Students in a computer networking hardware class are made aware of various reading strategies they can use while reading technical texts. The Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory (MARSI) is a self-reported survey of how people read textbooks and other academic materials. It can be used for students to assess how they are progressing as readers in their discipline-specific texts. Students indicated a preference for re-reading difficult technical content and the use of graphical elements such as tables, graphs, illustrations as a way for increasing their comprehension of the content.

Chandra, V. J. (2020, June), Making the Connection: Encouraging Technology-specific Reading Skills Through Structured Readings of Texts Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34945

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015