MU’s Summer Reading Program seeks to change first-years’ beach reading list
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 27, 2012 01:04
Medeiros and Kinney are in the process of organizing focus groups made up of the most recent class to experience the SRP. The students complete a short anonymous survey and then participate in a discussion.
According to Medeiros, the focus groups aim to accomplish two goals.
“First we want to know how students perceive the value of liberal education as a whole,” Medeiros said. “Second, we want to know the value of the Summer Reading Program in general. Is it a perceived value thing, a marketing thing or a time thing that stops students from reading?”
Kinney said one of the things students say is that the book “disappears” after graduation.
First-year Sam Bopp agreed.
“I wish the book would have been related to something,” Bopp said. “I felt like they just kind of made us read it for nothing.”
Katie Terlop said she also wanted more to do with the SRP book.
“My friends at other schools have classes that all freshman take that are based around their summer reading book and I think that would be more useful than the discussion groups,” Terlop said.
Current curriculum does not require any use of the SRP book, according to Jeep.
“We highly suggest and encourage the professors to include the book, but we don’t impose it,” Jeep said.
The idea of including some sort of comprehension test has been thrown around. This idea may get students to read more, but according to Jeep would not create the desired result.
“We could have a test, which would be logistically difficult, but in the end, isn’t college about choice?” Jeep said.
Medeiros said there are pros and cons to that idea.
“It would be great to encourage more class participation but only if it suits their needs,” Medeiros said. “Academic freedom is important.”
A possible idea to involve students on a voluntary basis is to include writing projects.
This year Director of the journalism program and Interim Chair of the communications department Richard Campbell plans to use the National Public Radio story core program to extend the summer reading book into the fall semester.
According to Campbell, the story core project is meant to encourage students to tell their own stories and to hear stories from others.
“Our version of story core is to capture the voices and stories in audio,” Campbell said.
Campbell plans to involve the Miami ROTC program in the story core program.
This project relates directly to the 2012 SRP book, Shade It Black¸ which is the story about Jess Goodell’s experience as a Marine. Campbell said it is important for students to be informed about war and the veterans who served in it.
“The goal is to make the war (in Iraq) more real to people,” Campbell said.
Medeiros and Kinney will use the research from the focus groups to find out what else might involve students more. This year they will also use more technological sources of advertising like Facebook and Twitter.
Kinney said the most important solution to the issue would be to properly introduce the SRP. She said it is important to make sure all staff and students in leadership positions are on board with the reading program.
“A lot of students are overwhelmed by coming to college,” Kinney said. “If we don’t do a good job explaining what the Summer Reading Program is, it becomes one more thing on a big list of unknowns.”