Depending on the class and instructor, “a reading assignment” could mean many things. However, the purpose of most reading assignments is to prepare students for class.
Reading outside the classroom can be a paradigm shift for students, especially first-time college students. Many students expect that the material will be delivered during lectures from the instructor. This is different from the actual expectation of faculty. At the college level, instructors expect that students are learning independently and will come to class with a base knowledge, ready to discuss and apply information.
Most college learning takes place outside the classroom,independent of the teacher. This means instructors expect students to complete learning on their own outside of the classroom. Students are expected to do the reading and practice content.
Your goal is to learn in the highest quality manner over the shortest amount of time. Usually, reading every word is not necessary. Avoid passive learning and any reading that is not high quality learning.
To ensure reading is focused, use active learning strategies. Here are a few:
Have a sacred learning space, and schedule reading early in the day.
Sit up and lean forward at a clean desk.
Hand write your notes for the best learning.
Write test questions and notes in short bullet form.
Answer questions in your own words using three to five words.
Have one finger on the images, and the other with pencil and paper ready to write.
Speak out loud to yourself to stay engaged.
Use the title, images, and figures to reinforce what you are reading. Connect text to images.
Sketch images or even stick drawings to trigger memory.
Do not multi-task, but rather do a short burst of high intensity focused reading.
Have a study plan, and break the assignment into smaller chunks over several days.
As you read, generate test questions.
Connect the new information to your previous knowledge or experience.
Be familiar with the textbook layout and what resources it provides.
Use all resources available including video and online support. Utilize online supplements that comes with the text.
Practice speed reading and skimming pulling out important information.
Teach what you have read to an invisible person or a family member.
Reading for content means you are able to cut to the most important terms and concepts. Do this by reading the headers, figures, and bold terms and turning them into test questions. Read critically, asking questions like:
Who, What, Where, When?
“Why” is the most important critical thinking question. For example: Why is this important?
What is an example?
Asking questions is a skill you will develop with your tenure as a student. Practice questioning everything. The better you become at asking questions of the text, the subject, the connections, the applications, and the purpose, the better and faster you learn.
How to do it?
How to Read to Prepare for Lecture
The secret to spending less time studying is to increase the effectiveness of your reading.
Reading before class is the best kept secret of “A” students. Don’t be afraid to skim the chapter reading headers, bold terms, learning objectives, image descriptions, and then turn those into test questions. It is only important to pull out these big picture concepts, and outline your notes leaving a lot of white space. Two test questions per page gives plenty of white space for writing in additional information in class or drawing an image.
This is the best time-saving technique for using class time as learning time.
Reading with a question in mind helps you look for answers and ignore unneeded material. Also, the learning goals listed at the beginning of each chapter will also help you stay focused on the big picture concepts.
Courses like science do not test on reading. However, you must read to prepare for class and be better able to understand the lecture. If you find yourself falling behind, you may need to read more in detail before class to help keep up.
The goal of most assigned reading is typically to be prepared for class. A good strategy is to read more heavily at the beginning of the course, and as you learn the instructor and the pace of the course, you can adjust your intensity.
Speed reading increases the speed of reading by reducing words that are repeated in your head. Speeding up reading assignments without losing comprehension of material is useful to a student. The voice you hear in your head is limiting the speed of reading. Your mind is capable of reading much faster; you just need practice. One easy way to speed read is to follow your finger pointing across the line of test. Your eyes are good at tracking, and with practice comprehension can follow.
Here are some pointers:
Talking to yourself slows you down.
Reduce the amount of words on a page to reduce distraction. This can be done through an app or by using a paper to cover half the page of text.
If you don’t understand what you’ve read, you are going too fast.
Chunk words together by training your eyes to move less. The more they jump, the less you can read effectively.
Read the introduction, learning goals, and summary.
Scan the titles, figures, and tables.
Identify the purpose of the reading assignment or chapter.
Step 2: QUESTION
Create your notes from the reading in a TEST Format instead of a NOTES format. Do this by generating possible test questions from the headers, bold terms, and images.
Step 3: READ
Read with the question in mind. This is not a passive reading, but an active search for the answer.
Step 4: RECITE
By answering those questions in your own three to five words, you will create a higher level of thinking that will give purpose and increase comprehension.
Connect new information to previously known information.
Practice test questions repeatedly until you feel confident.
Recite the answers out loud to yourself and to others.
Step 5: REVIEW
Review your notes in short bursts over several days. Ask yourself big picture concepts that could be on the test.
The P2R System
Preview the chapter with the question in mind, “What is this chapter about?
Skim the introduction, learning objectives, and summary. Next, read the headings, charts, graphs, diagrams, and pictures. Finally, read the last paragraph.
Read and skim ten pages at a sitting. Plan to space out sessions over days. Hand write notes and test questions.
After reading ten pages, summarize what you have read. Close your book and notes and recall out loud the most important key points from your reading. Take a practice quiz from the end of the chapter. Generate 10 test questions you think will be on the test and answer them in bullet form.
The S-RUN System
SURVEY: First, survey the chapter. Read the title and the introduction, as well as all headings, charts, diagrams, and graphs.
READ: Now read the section.
UNDERLINE: Underline material that explains the section’s heading.
NOTE TAKING: Generate your own notes on the material. Summarize the main points of the section.