Thursday, October 20, 2011

Active Reading

Reading is an essential part of a student’s college journey. Many students entering college have no idea how much reading is in store for them. With this being said, how can a person read in an organized manner, take effective notes and determine what is important and not?

At the beginning of the semester, your instructor gives you several items to read; such as a syllabus, overview of assignments, policies, etc. When you log into your course in Blackboard, you see a menu full of items. This is all very important information to read as it helps you get acclimated to the requirements of the course.

When you first get a reading assignment, spend a little time preparing to maximize the time you have to complete it. Set a definite time and place in which you intend to read, just like you would when study for a test. Find a comfortable, quiet location that is free of distractions. Then try “active reading”; which means being fully engaged in reading by focusing your mind and body on the activity. Many first-time students tend to read “passively” - not fully concentrating on the material.

To actively read, begin by skimming the material paying attention to main ideas. This will help you get an idea of what the reading assignment is about, how long it is, and the difficulty level. Read the first and last paragraphs, the main headings of a section, and the first and last sentences of paragraphs. Once you begin reading in-depth, take notes either in the textbook or in a notebook. Write down key ideas and questions you have; this will help you stay focused. Avoid highlighting large sections as this defeats the purpose of pointing out key ideas.

Most importantly, think critically when reading. You will find that your instructors do not want you to just recite names and dates, but to demonstrate an understanding of the material through reasoning and logic in your written assignments. Taking notes and asking questions while reading will help develop this skill.

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