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Presentation on theme: "GET AHEAD UNDERGRADUATE SUMMER PROGRAMME 2014"— Presentation transcript:

Reading at undergraduate level Sara Steinke

2 Aims of the session How to cope with the large amount of reading expected of you How to increase your understanding of the reading for academic study - the importance of critical reading skills to enhance your critical thinking To recognise the link between critical reading and note making skills To consider how to understand your reading lists

3 Common problems students encounter when reading for academic purposes
What is meant by reading for academic purposes - are you a smart reader? Reading skills for undergraduate study - SQ3R Importance of reading skills for critical thinking Writers are not authorities. They are participants in a public exchange of views. Be critical of their work.

4 Common difficulties with reading
These are some common difficulties mentioned by undergraduate students. Which of them apply to you? I read the words on the page but am not taking them in. I spend too much or too little time on the reading. I have difficulty expressing what I have read in my own words. I simply do not understand the material. I find the language used too complicated. I can not remember everything I read. I find the amount of reading overwhelming.


6 Academic reading Non academic reading
Reader is: active selective and interacts with the reading material has a particular question in mind re-reads with a purpose Reader is: passive reads from page one till the end does not ask questions expects the author to guide them through the narrative

7 Survey - before you read, survey the entire text, including the table of contents. Read titles, subtitles, introductions and conclusions and review any graphics. Question - write questions for the key points you have identified. Turn heading and subheadings into questions. Ask who, what, where, when and why. Read - read through the text from beginning to end, pausing at the end of each section to answer the questions you have created. Highlight key points in the text as you read, or make brief notes. Recite - answer the questions out loud to reinforce your learning. Make a list of key facts you need to know. Try to stop after each section in the text. Review - reviewing the concepts in the text after you are finished reading and reciting each section, and come back to it periodically over a few days. Summarise difficult passages and rewrite the major points in your own words.

8 Scanning Skimming To get a general idea of the text
See what is in the news or on a website Browse through a book to see if you what to read it Look through a television guide to see what is on one evening Flick through a catalogue to see what is on offer Look through the options on a Google search to see what sites it suggests To get particular information from a text Look up a word in an index or dictionary Find a phone number or address in a directory Check what time a television programmes is on Look up details and prices in a catalogue Pick out a website you want from a Google search

9 Reading - recap Can you:
select and use different reading strategies (e.g. skim, scan, in-depth)? think about what you need to find out before you start reading (are you reading to verify facts, to understand a subject in general or to analyse a particular argument)? critically evaluate reading? deal with new vocabulary?

10 Useful sources (for reading)
Cottrell, S. (2008) The Study Skills Handbook, 3rd ed., (London, Macmillan) Chapter 6 ‘Research skills’ pp Northedge, A. (2005) The Good Study Guide (Milton Keynes, Open University Press) chapter 5 ‘Reading’ pp

11 and effective note making go hand-in-hand
Common problems students encounter when note making for academic purposes Importance of note making for critical thinking Note making skills for undergraduate study -linear notes, mind mapping Active reading (SQ3R) and effective note making go hand-in-hand

12 Common difficulties with notes
These are some common difficulties mentioned by students. Which of them apply to you? I try to take down everything that is said/on the PowerPoint presentation in lectures. 2. I am unsure what the purpose of note-taking is. 3. I am uncertain about how many notes to take. 4. I am unsure what to make notes on. 5. I do not take time to organise my notes so that I can retrieve them later on. 6. I only know one way for note-taking.

13 Note taking is when you are taking notes on material in class; on what a speaker is saying; on what is happening around you. Note making is when you make notes on your thoughts; things you think you should study for, or remember; your own individual thoughts or information that you recall, and want to write down to remember or study. What is the difference between note taking and note making?

14 Importance of note making for critical thinking
To focus attention on what you are reading To help you make sense of what you read/hear To help you remember the key points To alert you to what you have not understood To help you when you are planning an assignment To help you when you are revising for exams To enable you to distinguish between facts, opinion and evidence - critical thinking skills

15 Techniques for linear, sequential notes
Make headings and subheadings List key words Number the points Underline, colour, use capital letters for emphasis Use abbreviations. Examples: = for equal, < less than, > more than, increase, decrease, re regarding, cf compared with Only use one side of a page in case you want to add more Note name of authors you want/need to read in margin

16 Techniques for radial, concept notes or mind maps
Turn the paper sideways, A3 landscape Write the topic in the centre of the page Write related ideas around this centre Add secondary ideas to the main ideas Link up these ideas to show relationships Use colours, different line thickness, symbols, pictures Add details to points as you go along

17 Condensing notes ‘Boil’ notes down to essential information. This is often easier to do a few weeks later, because your understanding of the subject has increased. You can see more clearly what is important information and what is not. Note gaps knowledge, confusions and contradictions in the reading or your knowledge Move from linear notes to conceptual notes (linear notes to mind maps)

18 Organising and storing your notes
By systematic from the beginning Make sure you can (re)read them before filing them away - but do not rewrite them ‘neatly’ Condensed notes can be copied and filed in at least two different ways: - chronological order (as you go along) - topic order (e.g. in anticipation of an assignment) - personal interest (for your own research later?) Write subject clearly in top right hand corner; number pages; colour code them; index cards

19 Note making - recap Can you: make effective notes when reading?
make effective notes when listening (e.g. during lectures)? use more than one note making technique? do you have a way of organising your notes?

20 Useful sources (for note making)
Cottrell, S. (2008) The Study Skills Handbook, 3rd ed., (London, Macmillan) chapter 6 ‘Research skills’ pp Northedge, A. (2005) The Good Study Guide (Milton Keynes, Open University Press) chapter 6 ‘Making notes’ pp Buzan T. (rev. 2003) Use Your Head (London, BBC) Buzan, T. & B. (rev. 2006) The Mind Map Book (London, BBC ) Buzan T. (2007) The Buzan Study Skills Handbook (London, BBC) ahead/skills/notetaking

21 Understanding your reading list
Understanding the Library catalogue Citing and managing references

22 Reading lists Lecturers give out lists of recommended resources to help you gain a greater understanding of your subject Use the reading list as your first ‘port of call’ for a topic These lists include references to: -books -sections of books/chapters -journal articles -web sites

23 Understanding book references
Author’s name (surname first) Date of publication Title of book, edition if appropriate Place of publication Publisher

24 Understanding journal article references
Author’s name (surname first) Date of publication Title of the article Name of the journal Volume Issue Page numbers

25 Understanding web sources references
Author’s name or company/organization name Date document was produced or updated Title of the document URL (web site address) Date you accessed the web site Birkbeck Library (2012) Birkbeck eLibrary. (Accessed: 25 June 2012)

26 The Library catalogue This information includes: Use the catalogue to
Publication details Shelf mark (location) Number of copies Loan length Availability OR Link to access ebook Use the catalogue to find information about: books ebooks DVDs print journals ejournals - access via eLibrary

27 Citing references: why?
To acknowledge the use of other people’s work To avoid plagiarism So those that read your essays can see how widely you have read So those that read your work can see what influenced you to draw the conclusions you did

28 Citing references: how?
List all the resources that you have read or consulted at the end of your essay in a bibliography List the resources in alphabetical order of surname There are different ‘styles’ of citing references - be consistent Check your course handbook for your department’s preferred style

29 Library and IT skills - recap
Can you: use the library catalogue and online database efficiently and effectively? undertake research, both primary and secondary? produce documents (essays, dissertations, reports) using Word and Excel?

30 Useful sources (for library)
Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2013) Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. 9th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan list

31 Presentations can be found at

32 Recap of the session Do you understanding the importance of ‘smart’, active reading strategies for academic study? Have you thought about how to use SQ3R to increase your reading speed and comprehension of the material? Are you familiar with the importance of effective note making strategies for academic study? Have you an idea of how to understand your reading lists? Do you feel confident to start using the Library Catalogue?

33 Next session Monday 1 September, 6pm-7.30pm, room 421
Writing at undergraduate level - what makes English academic - style and conventions of academic writing - the writing process - developing your academic writing skills for undergraduate study


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