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Reading is easy, isn't it?
Quantity As a student you can find yourself reading for many more hours a week than usual.
Difficulty Instead of the message slipping easily into your mind, as...
1 The experience of reading
The best way to develop your understanding of the reading process is to follow the principles of the Kolb learning cycle,
by doing some reading and then reflecting on your experience. To this end, Activity...
2 Getting round obstacles
2.1 Unfamiliar words
Salim, Erin, Lewis and Kate all mentioned various difficulties encountered as they read the Layard article. Perhaps your experience
was similar. If so, how did you respond? Was your progress held up, or...
2.2 The ‘academic’ style
You might also be put off by the ‘academic’ style of writing. In everyday life, what you read is usually written to grab your
attention and get a message across quickly before you ‘switch channels’. By...
2.3 Coping with difficult parts
Salim and Lewis mentioned that they found some sections of Layard's article difficult. So did I; for example, anyone without
a background in economics would have difficulty grasping the arguments in paragraphs...
2.4 Disagreeing with the author
It is clear from Kate's responses that from the outset she felt hostile to Layard's article and to Layard himself. As she
later explained in a seminar, she felt that he looked down on people with low incomes,...
2.5 Poor environment
Were you held back at all in your reading by the environment you were reading in? Were you reading in bed, in the bath, sitting
at a desk, on the bus, or in the park? Any of these could be a good time...
3 How quickly should you read?
Did you read the Layard article quickly enough, or perhaps too quickly? Reading speed is a persistent worry when you study.
There always seems to be much more to read than you have time for, so you feel...
3.2 Reading to learn
In order to learn you need to follow the argument as you read. With an important text, you should slow right down and take
it bit by bit. Here is a student describing how he tackled a particularly challenging...
3.3 Choosing a reading speed
As a student you cannot afford to read at just whatever speed comes naturally. If you are trying to keep abreast of a course,
you have to push yourself. However, reading speeds range from a lightning skim...
3.4 Time chunks
Apart from sheer speed, there is the question of how to parcel out your study time. With a two-page article you would assume
a single study session, but a chapter of a book might be spread over several...
4 Reading actively
4.1 Underlining and highlighting
To be able to make sense of what you are reading, you need to read actively. One method that can help is to use a pen.Did
you underline or highlight any words as you read the Layard article? If not, go...
4.2 Notes in the margins
4.3 Does writing on a book seem wrong?
Underlining or highlighting words as you read is a powerful study technique:it focuses your attention on the text;it
forces you to think about what the key concepts and issues are;it leaves...
4.4 Questioning what you read
Another way to keep your mind active while you read is to ask yourself questions about what you are reading.For example, when
I read in paragraph 3 of Layard's article that ‘41 per cent of people in the...
4.5 When you get stuck
Sometimes as you read you will get stuck. When this happens, don't sit staring at the page; find a way to tackle the problem.Check
the title, the contents list and the introduction to remind yourself what...
5 Reading critically
5.1 Critical questions
As well as making sense of what you read, you have to think about whether or not you are convinced by the arguments being
presented. At degree level, you don't simply accept what you read – you read ‘critically’,...
5.2 Thinking for yourself
These are the kinds of questions you need to ask in order to read critically. As a higher-level student, you don't read simply
to ‘find out facts’. It is assumed that you will think for yourself and question...
6 Are you a good reader?
6.1 What is a ‘good’ reader?
If you ever worry about:your rate of progress as you readhow much you understandhow much you will remember later
6.2 Specific difficulties
Some students contend with physical difficulties in reading. Here is one:
Reading is a core activity in most courses of study. The purpose of it is to enable you to learn. But learning is not a passive
process, you don't just let ideas wash over you. You have to make sense of...