August 9, 2018

East Central Community College is offering students an opportunity to experience learning beyond the traditional classroom environment when it introduces Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” as the common reader for the 2018-19 academic year.

Sherri Cliburn, chair of the college’s Literacy Committee and Career and Technical Support Services instructor, said, “East Central has never had a common reader, but we believe this will provide our student body with a shared experience, which will foster the exchange of ideas, perspectives and reactions to a common topic.”

All students, faculty and administration will be encouraged to read the novella, which will be available in various formats through the college’s Canvas module, including HTML, Kindle, PDF, and Word. A small number of hard copies will also be kept in the bookstore for those who prefer a printed copy. Then the reading will be incorporated into numerous college courses.

Misty Smith, who serves as Director of the Success Center, Testing and Continuing Education and also chairs the Success Center Advisory Committee, was also involved in the process of selecting the common reader and said, “By incorporating the reading into the various classes, students are not only more likely to read the text, but also more concepts and projects regarding the material can be explored, which makes for a more collaborative and community-based project, which in turn promotes interdisciplinary teaching and learning.”

“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is a short novella that has made such an impact it is now part of our language. Cliburn said, “Even those who have never read the book have heard the phrase ‘Jekyll and Hyde,’ which is used many times by people to describe someone’s unpredictable nature, which can range from very good to shockingly evil.”

While the trend at many institutions tends to lean toward contemporary, non-fiction texts of the self-help variety, Smith noted that “recent studies have shown that a more effective choice is the use of a classic text such as ‘Jekyll and Hyde,’ which has shown to elevate intellectual engagement and challenge students to form their own opinions.”

In its initial proposal, the ECCC Literacy Committee was especially interested in Stevenson’s novella as they said “it can be connected to every course taught at ECCC, including courses as eclectic as commercial wiring, web and programming concepts, chemistry and advanced concepts of nursing, in addition to the more obvious connections to courses such as English, psychology and criminal justice.”

In addition to incorporating the book into course work, the committee also plans to integrate fun activities such as a book club, movie night, a Jekyll/Hyde haunted house, and surprise appearances by Jekyll and Hyde throughout the year.