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Desmond Thomas LTU 20091 Developing effective reading strategies and productive routines Dr Desmond Thomas, University of Essex.

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Presentation on theme: "Desmond Thomas LTU 20091 Developing effective reading strategies and productive routines Dr Desmond Thomas, University of Essex."— Presentation transcript:

1 Desmond Thomas LTU Developing effective reading strategies and productive routines Dr Desmond Thomas, University of Essex

2 2 A sample ‘big question’ Is secondary education in Bulgaria undergoing a process of reform (as understood by agencies such as the World Bank) or returning to its traditional roots?

3 3 Leads to a Sample Claim “In spite of claims made by the government that Bulgaria is undergoing educational reform, what is really happening is a return to pre-WW2 traditions” CAN THIS BE QUALIFIED FURTHER?

4 4 Evaluating claims What kind of claim will you make? Do you need to qualify it in some way? Will your readers accept its significance? How will you support it through reading & data collection?

5 5 Reading aims: early stages Exploratory reading around a topic: what’s out there? Get a feel for a topic Clarifying your thinking on a range of issues related to the topic Generating questions Unpacking problematic concepts

6 6 Reading aims: later stages Testing specific hypotheses/claims Collecting evidence to support claims that you wish to put forward Examining & refuting counter-claims All of these involve a more focused approach, reading for very specific reasons rather than in exploratory mode

7 7 Key problem areas Access (too little? too much?) Selection vs rejection Managing reading time Critical vs non-critical reading Keeping meaningful records Integrating your own ideas with those obtained from reading: write to yourself?

8 8 Two modes of reading & note-taking 1.Reading to understand and/or to summarize content. This can include: Picking out main arguments or identifying a writer’s stance on a particular issue Looking at more specific information, such as the reasons or evidence underpinning an argument Providing brief summaries of key texts 2.Responding to ideas within the text via critical analysis

9 9 CRITICAL READING can involve an examination of a writer’s stance: Identifying a writer’s agenda (whether overt or covert) Locating a writer’s perspective within an established paradigm

10 10 Considering the validity of claims made by a writer Identifying and commenting on the assumptions underlying claims Considering arguments arising from the principal claim(s) Examining different circumstances in which arguments may be true or false Questioning generalizations made from the principal claim Examining the evidence on which a claim is based to see whether it is faulty, too strong etc. Considering the validity of a writer’s conclusions CRITICAL READING can involve an examination of the logic of a writer’s arguments

11 11 CRITICAL READING can also involve an examination of the language used to express arguments –Use of emotive language –Use of rhetoric, exaggeration, vague or non-specific language

12 12 CRITICAL NOTE-TAKING SKILLS Identifying specific arguments and key issues which have a particular relevance to the research project Annotating the text with critical comments on specific points Drawing conclusions from these comments and presenting in a summarized form. Obtaining analysis which is directly linked to arguments within the text itself – and therefore not based on a summarized version removed from the original

13 13 The Literature Review: Process Contextualizing a research topic Testing research questions & claims, and examining counter-claims Exploring other relevant projects and case studies Exploring the research methodology itself

14 14 The Literature Review: Product An introductory chapter? A separate chapter within the thesis? A composite of several chapters? Sections to be integrated within different chapters?

15 15 Accessing Source Materials Library catalogues Electronic databases ‘Grey literature’ (theses, websites etc) E-books Conference proceedings Statistics Discussions Subject guides Google Scholar Endnote

16 16 Review from an angle “In literature reviews the critical element most frequently missing is an explicit angle or theme – a sense of what the author wants to do differently or what insights she hopes to gain from completing the review.”(Dunleavy ) “It is important that you specify at the outset the angle from which you propose to survey a literature. This step needs to be taken long before you actually start writing up a draft. Once identified, your individual approach should inform the selection of materials included throughout the dissertation.”(Dunleavy 1986: 114)


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