Reading Study Skills
Educators frequently ask students to ‘read around the subject’ with little or no guidance on how to approach this task. Conscientious students spend many hours with a book or article in front of them and eventually either copy out chunks of information or forget what they have read by the time they have left the library. This section and those on Note Taking and Using the Library should, hopefully, make private study time more effective for all students.
There are a number of objectives which academic reading aims to achieve:
* Reading to understand a theoretical concept
* Reading to enhance understanding
* Reading to expand one’s applied knowledge of a subject
* Reading to find out about possible alternative viewpoints in order to consolidate one’s own ideas
Finally, it should be remembered that those students who do read widely and effectively are likely to achieve the higher grades.
How to improve your reading technique: some basic principles
1. Skim or survey
* Check relevance – date of publication, author, title
* Contents page – which chapters should you read? Don’t assume you should read a book from cover to cover
* Introduction – what is the author’s intention?
2. Be purposeful – question
* Ask yourself:
Why read this?
Which areas are of specific interest?
How will it help my studies?
Is it worth reading?
* Quickly read the opening and closing paragraphs and then the first and last chapters to make your judgement.
3. Read effectively
* Get a feel for the chapter/passage – read it quickly
o Do you understand it?
o What is the key point the author is making?
o What is the main point of each paragraph – there should only be one!
* Sort out:
Reading Study Skills
Examples and illustrations
The author’s own ideas
o How convincing are these ideas?
o Do you have all the facts?
o Are there contrary examples to those given?
o Can you think of alternative theories?
o What are the consequences of these alternatives as opposed to the author’s suggestions?
4. Remember what you’ve read or recall
* Having read a complex passage or chapter, try to note down, without looking, the key points of what you have read
* Try to think of a couple of the main examples given
5. Check your memory or review
* Check your notes against the passage
* Correct and amend
* Make sure you have covered the key point of each paragraph
The guidelines given in this section follow a technique called SQ3R, the five steps to effective reading.
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Bonny Bucknam –