Through "Reading University Level Materials" you have encountered a number of principles and strategies related to reading effectively at university.  You have learned about the importance of reading actively through setting reading goals, developing a purpose for reading, using the Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review (SQ3R) strategy, thinking critically and analytically about the notes and summaries you make from your various readings, and about reviewing and reciting in preparation for exams.  As well, you have read about the intentional use of question frames which prompt you to read and think at a variety of levels, including: summary and definition, analysis, hypothesis, and critical judgment.  Throughout, I have tried to underscore the importance of reading with a strategy that matches your purpose for reading, in a way that is "thinking intensive", with the aim of assisting you in becoming an effective and efficient reader.  Remember, no strategy can guarantee that readings will proceed without difficulty.  As you continue to apply these new-found strategies, endeavor to remain flexible in your approach to reading and to always read with a view of improving your skills.

  • Be an active reader.  Being an active reader means setting reading goals, having a personal purpose for reading, developing an understanding of the organization of the reading, reading selectively, reading to link key ideas to important details and with a view to connecting ideas to a context, and reading thoughtfully and critically.

  • Use a strategy.  We have discussed a strategy that involves surveying, questioning, reading, reciting and reviewing. If you choose not to subscribe to any particular strategy, use the principles that underlie them: previewing for an overview, questioning, summarizing, recording ideas in key word form, reciting ideas, reflecting about what was read, reviewing learning regularly.

  • Skimming and scanning processes have specialized applications for reading.  The process of skimming is helpful for establishing general awareness about the contents of a specific reading.  Skimming the structural elements of a reading (headings, sub-headings, topic sentences etc.) is a common way to preview a reading.  The process of scanning is used to identify the organization of a reading and then to locate specific information quickly and accurately.  Finding a number in a phone book is an example of scanning.

  • Record the ideas you find important.  In your readings and reflect on and review these regularly.  Taking notes provides us with a fairly permanent, abbreviated record to return to so that we can continue to process and think about the ideas we have read.  Reviewing these notes regularly helps to keep us thinking and helps support our memory of the knowledge we have encountered.

  • Apply questions to what you read.  Reading is a tool of thinking.  Questioning at various levels moves you to thinking at those various levels.  When we ask only the most basic questions, we think only the most basic thoughts.  When we question at deeper levels, we think more deeply.  The four levels of questions that we discussed were (1) fundamental questions; (2) part-whole-connection questions; (3) hypothesis questions; (4) critical questions.

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Dr. Polly MacFarlane