What are my reading problems:
There are three main skill area involved in reading:
This section highlights the first three areas and provides useful strategies for each. Before looking at effective reading strategies, you might wish to consider the self-reflection questions as well as do a quick self-assessment of your present reading skills. You will find a reading self-assessment in the Tools section.
To read well you need both speed and good comprehension. Don't mistake the term "speed" to mean reading very fast. Speed refers to a pace which is requisite for the reading task. For example, when you survey and skim a text, you go very quickly down the page, trying to get the gist. By contrast a slower, more methodical pace is needed when reading for detail.
Regardless of the purpose for reading, slow readers possess several common attributes. Firstly, slow readers experience eye movement regression. That is, instead of their eyes moving forward as fast readers do, their eyes move forward but then backwards to material already read. Secondly, slow readers tend to look at each word in a sentence, something that is not necessary in English, a language with a high level of redundancy.
Test your reading speed to see if you need to learn how to increase it.
1. Stop Fixation & Regression
One step forward, two steps back!
Experiments with slow readers show that not only do these readers look at every word (called ‘fixation'), their eyes jump back to previously seen words (called ‘regression').
I am looking at each word while I read this sentence.
Humans have very good peripheral vision. The old axiom ‘having eyes in the back of your head' comes from our ability to see things that are not directly in front of us. In fact we can see about 180 degrees from a point in front of our eyes. Peripheral vision was necessary in ancient times to protect ourselves from other predators. Even though we no longer need to fend off Sabre-toothed tigers, our peripheral vision is just as important today as it was thousands of years ago. Having this ability allows us to read many more words than those you are looking directly at.
Once you understand your eyes' patterns and build your reading confidence, you will no longer feel the urge to fixate on each word or regress and your reading speed will increase.
I am looking at large groups of words in this sentence and don't regress.
Remember the Reading MYTHS on page 1? Many poor readers are afraid to skim or believe that skimming is not real reading. Boy, are they wrong! Good reading encompasses many skills: skimming, scanning, reading for detail, reading for implied meaning, understand words from context, etc. You need all these skills to be a good reader.
Reading approaches such as SQ4R and other speed reading techniques will help you become a more adept skim reader. Also, review the Checklist in the tool below.
3. Speed Reading
Average reading speed is between 150- 250 WPM. That's too slow if you have a lot of material to cover in a very short time (e.g. one term). You should aim for around 400-500 WPM.
Why should you read rapidly?
How can you improve your speed?Speed Up Your Reading (40 KB)
4. Vocabulary Building
Build your vocabulary in your discipline. Overlearn definitions and basic concepts. Create your own ‘dictionary' of new terms and phrases or put them on cue cards. Review your new terms daily.
To fully comprehend your academic readings at university, you will need to:
1. Recognize different genres or types of writing e.g. persuasive or argument essay, fiction, rhetorical analysis, review, criticism, news article. Genres centres on audience and purpose.
For more information, go to Purdue University's OWL Writing Lab at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/internet/resources/genre.html
2. Understand and use different types of thinking: e.g. deductive, analytical, critical.
3. Have an advanced level of the English language: both syntax (rules) & semantics (meaning).
For more information, refer to writer's handbooks, English grammar books, dictionaries, and thesauruses.
4. Read actively!
Have you ever noticed yourself drifting off while you're reading?
Have you ever found that you've finished a reading passage but can't remember much or any of what you've read?
Does reading feel boring? exhausting? a waste of time?
If you answered yes to any of the above, it's possible you are a passive reader.
What is ACTIVE Reading?
When you read actively, you are in control of the INPUT of information. When you read actively, you are engaged in a PROCESS of discovery. Reading becomes a quest to find the answer to questions you have posed prior to reading rather than waiting passively for the words to wash over you. This engagement allows you to stay alert and interested. Questioning engages the brain, puts it into gear, which means you are less likely to drift off or get bored.
Students, who might otherwise read actively, can fall victim to passive reading when faced with their course readings. These students feel that academic reading is more difficult and, therefore, requires a more laborious process. However, this is not the case. Due to its demands for higher order thinking skills, academic reading encourages students to take control of the reading process.
Strategies for Active Reading & Comprehension
SURVEY: scan the material for the ‘big picture' understanding
QUESTION: make up questions
READ & RECORD: read for a purpose, i.e. to answer the question; take notes
RECITE: key concepts in your own words
REVIEW look back at your notes
At first the SQ4R approach might seem like extra work. However, when you consider that you don't have to reread, and that you are studying and preparing for exams all at the same time, then you actually save time. Also, you won't end up cramming thus reducing anxiety and feeling more in control.
For a detailed description of the SQ4R active reading model go the TOOLS Sections.
2. ConStruct = Concept + Structuring
Goal: to identify and prioritize important ideas and main points in readings
Method: Use a diagram to show the conceptual relationships in a selection of readings
ConStruct is an excellent approach for students who feel they "get lost in the detail" and when reading word problems in math and science.
The Multipass is similar to ConStruct method but you don't have to read as thoroughly as there is no diagram required.
Goal: to extract enough information from a text without having to read it thoroughly
Method: You need to have a text that has questions provided either in the text or by the instructor/professor.
ConStruct and Multipass methods are sourced from: Crux, S. (1991). Reading Fluency & Comprehension form Learning Strategies for Adults: Compensations for Learning Disabilities. Toronto: Wall & Emerson.
Students have different ways to retain and recall information. Some like to highlight text with coloured markers; others jot down comments in the margins of their books. Highlighting text can be a good start but needs to be followed up by reworking and reviewing the information. Otherwise, you will forget what you've highlighted and end up rereading the text. The most popular, and arguably the best, strategy is making a note while you are reading. Research shows that that process of making a note might aid recall. Regardless, reviewing your notes definitively improves test results. So, the message here is do both for maximum learning.
Other popular retention strategies are:
The Cornell System
The Cornell system produces an excellent note from which you can easily and quickly study.
It incorporates a section for traditional notes with a "Cue Column" and a "Summary" section. The Cue Column, on the left of the page, allows the note-taker to write key terms, concepts, sequences, and/or questions that will cue the brain to remember the detail notes. The bottom quarter of the page is reserved for a brief summary which is very useful when reviewing notes.
It can be used very effectively with the SQ4R system. At the "Q" step of SQ4R, the notemaker writes down his/her question in the ‘Cue Column'. Questions in the Cue Column are then used in the revision and review stages. The Cue Column can be easily folded over to hide the notes thus acting as a natural self-test mechanism.
Mind Mapping for Readings
Why might you choose to make a concept or mind map as your note?
First of all, consider your LEARNING STYLE: visual, auditory, and tactile. Learners who are visual and/or tactile will benefit from constructing a graphic map of the information read. Visual learners like to see a visual representation of the reading materials while tactile learners like to do something when they read. For visual learners, mind mapping appeals to their love of images, pictures, and colors. For tactile learners, constructing a mind map while reading keeps you active so you don't lose concentration and focus. They are fun to make and can be easily redrawn for review purposes. Irrespective your learning style, all readers can benefit from concept/ mind mapping as this type of note making requires the reader to distinguish main ideas from details. It is, therefore, a particularly useful method to employ if you are a reader who "gets lost in the detail".
Making a mind map is a whole brain activity, i.e., it engages both left and right hemispheres of the brain. Try integrating a mind map into your Cornell Notes.
2. Cue or Flash Cards
Why use cue cards?
2. Quick test of understanding
3. Can be done during ‘found time' (small blocks of time in your schedule)
4. Repetition is an effective memory strategy
5. Making them constitutes studying!
How to use cue cards?
1. Always write the questions in complete sentences.
2. Keep the answers short.
3. Prioritize your information.
4. For definitions, write the ‘textbook' definition on one side and a paraphrased version on the flipside.
A strong case for using cue cards for exam preparation and study in courses such as Biology is found at http://msjensen.cehd.umn.edu/1135/Help/HowToStudyDW.htm
3. Study Groups
Studying in a group (2-4 people is a good size) is a great way to retain information. When you discuss and explain your readings to others, you ‘hear' the information again which means you are reviewing. Studies show that students, who recite, i.e. say the information out loud, perform better on tests. Also, when you explain your ideas, it's like teaching and we all know that to teach something well, you have to understand it well first.
4. Weekly Review
A good set of notes is easy and fun to review. Some notes, like mind maps, can be redrawn as part of the review process. The Cue Column in a Cornell note can be folded over to hide the notes section for easy self-testing. The important thing is to put weekly review into your schedule for each course. Ideally, start a new study session by reviewing all past notes (if you have good notes, this doesn't take very long). The more frequently you see your notes, the more you will remember the content when the test rolls around.
5. Reading Out Loud
6. Tape Recording Lectures