Rowan University Reading Clinic Has Been Striving To Make Better Readers And Teachers For The Past 80 Years

Since 1939, the Rowan Reading Clinic has helped K-12 students improve their literacy skills. Rowan undergraduate and graduate students are tutors in the clinic, housed in James Hall. Photo credit: Rowan University.

GLASSBORO, N.J. — The Reading Clinic at Rowan University has just concluded its summer session in now what is its 80th year serving as a community center for reading improvement for students from Kindergarten through 12th grade.

Rowan education majors — undergraduate literacy studies majors as well as graduate students pursuing reading specialist certification — are the tutors, providing critical one-to-one instruction to struggling readers.

While participants become better readers, tutors learn to become stronger, better teachers. After an initial reading assessment of each child conducted by Reading Clinic Coordinator Janet Iles, tutors zero in on areas where readers struggle, making formal lesson plans to address problem areas. At the end of each 20-hour tutoring clinic, tutors write extensive reports that include strategies and recommendations to further assist readers.

“The purpose of our instruction is to help children be better readers and writers,” says Iles. “Reading is the most important skill children can learn. As our society changes and we get away from hard print, kids learn to like short bursts of information. To be able to sustain their thinking while reading is something they really struggle with.”

Erin Moles, a senior elementary education and literacy studies major pursuing the Thomas N. Bantivoglio Honors Concentration in the Honors College, worked this summer with a second grader who was struggling with reading comprehension.

“What resonates with me here in the clinic is the individuality of each student. Each room in the clinic is different and each instruction is different,” Moles said.

That’s by design, Iles said.  

“You don’t get individualized instruction like this anywhere else. We have fought against instituting group instruction,” said Iles, adding that the undergraduate and graduate reading programs in the College of Education are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation in Teacher Education. “The clinic nurtures the language experience all children need to grow intellectually, socially and emotionally in the classroom.”

As their final summer session ended, Moles saw growth in her tutee.

“I saw improvement in his fluency,” she explained. “At the beginning of the sessions, he wasn’t paying too much attention to punctuation or emotion. But by the last session, he’d read with emotion and he was able to identify the emotion a character was feeling in a story when I asked him.”

The upcoming fall Reading Clinic sessions will be held after school for an hour twice weekly, beginning on September 18 and running through December 2.  The fee is $325 for a full, 20-hour clinic cycle. 

Sixty tutors — one of the biggest groups of tutors in recent years — will be available to work with the children.