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Chapter 1 Effective reading for academic purposes

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1 Chapter 1 Effective reading for academic purposes

2 Learning objectives On completion of this chapter students will know how to: identify individual reading styles and recognise their strengths and weaknesses understand the role of critical reading in the Australian academic context develop a range of strategies to improve reading capability, including speed and comprehension

3 Learning objectives (cont.)
adapt reading styles to suit the requirements of different texts recognise the integrated nature of reading and note-taking.

4 Why focus on reading? Tertiary studies require you to read very widely and in-depth across a range of subject areas. You will encounter new vocabulary and concepts. You will begin to notice that writers use different styles and structures of writing depending on the subject area. You might find that the reading strategies you have been using successfully are no longer adequate.

5 Your own reading style In groups of three or four, discuss your own reading ability. What makes a ‘good’ reader? Are you a good reader? What is your main problem when reading? What strategies have you developed for reading?

6 Your own reading style (cont.)
Also consider the following questions: What sorts of reading material do you enjoy most? Why? What attracts you to start reading a book or other text (e.g. cover, pictures, font size, topic etc.)? What are the best conditions for your reading? Do you use the same place? Do you need to be alone? Do you read at the same time each day?

7 Reading (English) quiz
For each of the following items, indicate whether the statement is true or false. I never read (in English) for pleasure.  True  False Reading is a tedious task that I do only because I have to. The best way to read academic texts is to just read the abstract or summary and then pretend to have read the whole thing.

8 Reading (English) quiz (cont.)
A good strategy to understand difficult vocabulary is to use an electronic translator.  True  False If I could read faster I would be a ‘good’ reader. I know I can’t read all the material assigned to me in my program, so I don’t even try. I have some well-developed reading strategies which have worked very well in my study experience to date.

9 Reading (English) quiz (cont.)
I find that talking about the main points of a difficult text with a classmate really helps my comprehension.  True  False I never write notes as I read. I just keep the information in my head. I always use a highlighter or pencil when reading academic texts.

10 Critical reading Students need to take individual responsibility for learning. Much more reading is needed than just the lecture notes or course guide. Developing your reading skills is of paramount importance.

11 Critical reading (cont.)
‘…it is not simply what you read or how much you read but how you read that will crucially affect your level of reading skill’ (Boddington and Clanchy 1999, p. 1). How you read will impact on your understanding of source material and the way you incorporate these sources into your own writing on a topic.

12 Critical reading (cont.)
Critical reading involves making judgments about the value of what you are reading (Boddington & Clanchy 1999). Instead of simply consuming information you are expected to become a producer of information. You need to carefully assess what you read while constantly asking yourself whether the information you are reading is useful for the particular assignment you are working on.

13 Critical reading (cont.)
To develop critical thinking and reading you need to interrogate both the writer and the text. Use the following questions to help you gain a critical perspective: What is this document about? Is it accurate? How do you know? Who wrote it? Is the writer an authority in this field? Is the writer trying to persuade you of a particular position? Is this argument based on a broad or narrow view of the issue?

14 Critical reading (cont.)
More questions: What evidence is offered to support the argument? What hasn’t been included in the argument? What would a totally opposite point of view look like? Do you agree/disagree with the position presented by the writer? How did you come to this view? What do other writers have to say about this topic? Does this text add anything ‘new’ to the topic? Is this document useful for your present research?

15 Reading activity Read and critically evaluate the following two short texts using the critical reading dot points on the last slide. Which text would be most appropriate for the essay topic ‘Compare and contrast two brands of similar products available internationally’? How might you incorporate information from Text 2?

16 Text 1 (Baker 1999) ‘Successful brands are those which create [an] image or personality. They do it by encouraging customers to perceive the attributes they aspire to as being strongly associated with the brand. These attributes may be real and objective (e.g. quality, value for money) or abstract and emotional (e.g. status, youthfulness). The personality of the brand is a function of the rational characteristics but this has to be augmented and communicated to consumers through advertising, design, packaging and effective distribution and display. These position the brand’s personality in a consumer’s mind, generate confidence and create the purchasing environment.’

17 Text 2 (Coca-Cola 2005) ‘The Coca-Cola Company exists to benefit and refresh everyone it touches. Founded in 1886, our Company is the world‘s leading manufacturer, marketer, and distributor of nonalcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups, used to produce nearly 400 beverage brands. Our corporate headquarters are in Atlanta, with local operations in over 200 countries around the world.’

18 Effective reading There are four inter-related elements involved in effective reading for academic purposes (Boddington & Clanchy 1999): context purpose text strategy.

19 Context The context for your reading is tertiary study at an Australian/New Zealand university. This context determines the attitude you bring to your reading. You should have a genuine desire to learn rather than simply to ‘get the job done’. All texts read within your learning environment need to be approached with a sincere desire to understand. Without this basic attitude you are unlikely to gain the full benefit of your reading while studying at university.

20 Activity 1 Write down the five main reasons you decided to enrol in your current program of study. Consider your career aspirations, what you hope to achieve in your particular degree or program, how your study will affect your future life and so on. Now consider how the reasons for embarking on your current course of study might impact on the attitude that you bring to your reading, which in turn will result in more or less effective reading practices.

21 Purpose Before you begin reading you need to define your purpose.
If researching for an assignment, are you looking for an explanation, evidence for a critique, or to fill gaps in your own knowledge of the topic? To ascertain the purpose of your reading: pay careful attention to your lecturer’s instructions, both oral and written ensure that you fully understand the requirements of the assignment use the marking criteria provided to guide your reading.

22 80/20 principle Piscitelli (2004) recommends the ‘80/20 principle’.
In most reading assignments, 80% of what you need to know is in about 20% of the material. So you usually only need to skim read 80% of the document and carefully read the relevant 20%. This will significantly cut down your reading time. The purpose for your reading will dictate how much of the text you have to read carefully.

23 Refining your purpose Your purpose will change as you work through your research tasks: when you first receive an assignment when you start to answer the assignment question as your ideas start to change when you decide you need to read different texts to fill in any gaps in your emerging understanding. Boddington (1999) refers to this process as ‘refining your purpose’ (p. 10).

24 Text A text may be: a book a textbook a newspaper article
a journal article a report an online document a graphic/table/illustration even a comic!

25 Text and genre Texts in the same genre have similar characteristics or conventions. Recognising the particular features of different genres helps you to skim a text and determine if it is appropriate to use for your present research. You need to be able to identify: different types of text you will need at university the data or information available in each.

26 Activity 2 Form groups of three or four students and discuss how your reading technique differs depending on the type of text you are reading. Consider the way you read: a dense academic text a newspaper an advertising brochure a recipe book a novel a comic a personal letter.

27 Activity 2 (cont.) Is your reading technique determined by the type of text, your purpose for reading or a combination of both? List the reading techniques you have developed in your study so far. Does your reading technique change according to the task (e.g. if you are reading for an assignment, or reading as part of exam revision)? How?

28 Reading strategies Speed reading Scanning by key words and phrases
Skimming by paragraphs SQ3R method: Survey Question Read Recite Review

29 SQ3R method Before you read, SURVEY (SCAN) the text:
title, headings, subheadings captions under pictures, charts, etc. introduction and conclusion summary or abstract.

30 SQ3R method (cont.) QUESTION while you are surveying:
Turn the title/headings into questions. If reading a textbook, read the questions at the end of the chapter. Ask yourself, ‘What do I already know about this subject?’ Ask yourself, ‘What did the lecturer say about this topic?’

31 SQ3R method (cont.) When you begin to READ:
Note all the underlined, bold or italicised words. Reduce your reading speed for difficult passages (but try not to do this all the time). Check your dictionary only when you cannot determine the meaning from the context. DO NOT check every word. Give yourself permission to ‘miss’ the meaning of some words. Aim for overall comprehension. Look for answers to the questions you first raised.

32 SQ3R method (cont.) RECITE after you read each section:
Orally ask yourself questions about what you have just read. Write a one-sentence summary at the end of each section. Underline/highlight key points. Make notes in the margin (or on a separate piece of paper with the full reference included in your notes).

33 SQ3R method (cont.) REVIEW your reading:
After you have finished the whole article or chapter, write a short summary. Keep this summary with the text. Never finish an article without doing some form of oral and written review. If studying for an exam, go back through the text and ask yourself questions (flash cards work well).

34 Skimming by paragraphs
This approach is based on the following understandings: The paragraph is an idea unit, coherent in itself but also part of a whole argument. Signposts (single words or phrases) show the internal connections and the overall development of an argument and usually occur at the beginning of paragraphs. Opening sentences of each paragraph usually provide an outline of the argument being presented.

35 Skimming by paragraphs (cont.)
Four steps in this approach (Clanchy and Ballard 1997): Step 1: Look for signposts (in the title or section headings). Step 2: Read just the first section in full. Step 3: Summarise the key points in this section. Step 4: Read the first sentences of each paragraph. (You will notice that if you put these first sentences together they will be similar to your summary of the first section.)

36 Reading difficult vocabulary
If you are constantly checking the meaning of words, ask yourself the following questions: Why are you reading? If it is simply to gain an overview of a topic, you may not need to know the meaning of every word. Do you need all the detail? Again, a general impression (remember 80/20) may be all you need.

37 Reading difficult vocabulary (cont.)
Some words are more important than others, in which case you will need to consult a dictionary: Is the word in the title? Does it occur often? Is it a ‘jargon’ word? Try to work out the meaning from the context. To understand a process, look up verbs. If you want to understand an idea, look up nouns.

38 Reading tips Reading speed and comprehension depend on the type of text. Practice is the best way to improve. Do not read every word starting from the beginning. Read the title: ask yourself what you already know. Scan or survey the whole text first. Read introductory and concluding paragraphs.

39 Reading tips (cont.) Read the first sentence in each paragraph carefully. Note headings, titles, diagrams, pictures. Think while you read. Ask yourself questions. Underline, highlight, make notes in the margin. Try to work out the meanings of words from the context but, if necessary, check your dictionary. Write a one-sentence summary at the end of every chapter or section or do a simple oral review.

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