Reading is dependent on the purpose of the text. What you need to learn from the text directs how you should read it. For example, you wouldn’t read a micro-biology textbook for class in the same manner you read a novel at the shore. In a similar manner, reading a reading a peer-reviewed research article will require different practices than reading a text book or lecture slides.
What you need to know and do with the content should inform how closely you need to read the text, or the amount of time spent actively engaging the reading. The following section should help frame how to create a blueprint, strategies to prioritize, organize and synthesis information, for academic reading purposes.
Read to Validate Your Predictions & Answer Questions
Read with your questions and predictions in mind and determine if you were correct or not.
If you are, then you are most likely understanding the material in the way the author or professor intended. If not, this suggests you are not approaching the material in the preferred way. Repeat some of the steps listed above and look again for any patterns, themes, biases, etc. that run throughout the lecture, chapter, section or entire book.
Determine Degree of Reading
Once you have established the context and have an idea of the purpose of the text and what you need to understand, determine how close you will need to read the text to accomplish your goals.
- Reading Selectively: If you have determined that the reading plays a supplemental role in the class, you will want to focus more of your attention and time studying the lecture slides and only using the other texts when you need more clarification.
- Reading Thoroughly: If the course readings (lecture slides, articles, textbooks, etc) play a more prominent role in the course, where you much of the information you will be responsible is coming only from that text, then you will need to devote larger chunks of time to reading the text more thoroughly.
- Chunking: Breaking up the reading into smaller chunks can increase your level of attention and understanding. Therefore, avoid ‘marathon’ reading sessions, split the time spent reading difficult or dense texts into smaller amounts of time or provide yourself with meaningful breaks between chunks. Take breaks and assess your comprehension. Is the text answering your questions?