Reading and writing from textbooks in higher education: The dangers of other people's words

Year: 2001

Author: Richardson, Paul

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Literacy is often narrowly conceived as an ability to read and write. This study however is founded on a view that literacy has no meaning when disconnected from the cultural contexts of use. In addition, it looks at learning from the learner’s perspective and shows how individuals differentially take up with the new and unfamiliar discourses, genres and practices of a particular discipline.

In the disciplinary context of Economics and in the particular research site of an introductory Economics classroom, the textbook assumed a status similar to that of a canonical religious text. Western education expects students to write in their own words after reading received, authoritative accounts of ideas and concepts that are held to be fundamental to a discipline. The paper explores the complexities and dilemmas for students of reading and writing from textbooks and uncovers their unresolved tensions and anxieties concerning plagiarism.