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6 Are you a good reader?

6.1 What is a ‘good’ reader?

If you ever worry about:

  • your rate of progress as you read
  • how much you understand
  • how much you will remember later

then join the club. Here is one student offering support to another who expressed self-doubt in an online chat room:

Some approaches to reading are better than others, of course. Research has found that less successful students take a ‘surface’ approach to reading, while more successful students take a ‘deep’ approach.

Surface approach

‘Students who did not get ‘the point’ failed to do so simply because they were not looking for it’.

‘Instead they concentrated on trying to learn discrete bits of information’.

Deep approach

Successful students were ‘more concerned […] to make sense of the article as a whole. [They] focused […] on what the text was about: the author's intention, the main point, the conclusion to be drawn’. Entwistle (1997, p. 18)

Instead of worrying about whether you are naturally a good reader, it is far more useful to work at making yourself the best reader you can be. The secret is to search for meaning as you read, taking the active, questioning approach described in this unit.

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