Book Reviews

Book by Lawrence J. Zwier and Matthew S. Weltig
Review by Brad Blitz
Advising, Counseling, and Retention Services
Georgia Perimeter College
Dunwoody Campus, Bradley


“Reading remains the primary means by which educated people gain information; it is difficult to imagine a college course without reading assignments, almost always via the printed word” (Lowman, 1996, p. 211).  Mastering Academic Reading provides students of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) an opportunity to develop their reading skills through the completion of integrated selections with comprehension and expansion exercises.  The reading exercises provided in Mastering Academic Reading offer practice suitable for all levels of under prepared EAP readers, including L1 (native English) and L2 (non-native English) students, as well as students preparing for graduate or professional examinations which require “Reading Comprehension” or “Critical Language” components.

Mastering Academic Reading is divided into four sections, each consisting of a number of integrated and “tiered” practice readings, allowing students to build on the aspects of each.  Zwier meticulously selected readings to focus on basic comprehension (tier 1), comprehension and lexical access (tier 2), and reading to learn and integrate information (tier 3) based on the research of William Grabe and Fredricka Stroller (pp. xi-xii).  Readings are taken directly from academic and professional journals, with little adaptation, which leaves readers “in the hands of ‘real world’ authors and their difficult, lexically diffuse, and allusion-filled creations” (p. xi).  The comprehension and expansion exercises provided with each reading make integration into a classroom setting uncomplicated.  Exercises focus on vocabulary acquisition, a major component of reading comprehension, but also challenges students to traverse deeper learning domains, including application, analysis, and evaluation.   

Mastering Academic Reading provides readers exactly what it says it will: an opportunity to increase reading comprehension skills through repeated practice exercises.  Although the book has many strengths including its numerous and challenging integrated reading selections and extensive comprehension and expansion exercises; the text does not provide readers any direct strategies for improving their reading ability.  As an advisor, I see this book’s greatest value as a text within a remedial reading course, college success or first year experience course, or as part of a summer bridge program.  The book’s design as a practice tool limits its ability to be a stand-alone course text and positions it much more effectively as a supplemental text.  Advisors that do not engage in teaching may still find this text very useful as a resource for students they advise who have expressed academic difficulties or struggling with the transition to college.  Mastering Academic Reading would also be a great addition to any learning and tutoring center.   

References:

Lowman, J. (1996). Assignments that promote learning. In R. J. Menges, M. Weimer,
& Associates (Eds.), Teaching on solid ground: Using scholarship to improve practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Mastering Academic Reading. (2009). Book by Lawrence J. Zwier with contributions by Matthew S. Weltig. Review by Brad Blitz. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press. 235 pp., $28.95, ISBN # 978-0-472-03223-5
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