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Active Reading How to Read with a Purpose

Active Reading How to Read with a Purpose

Author: Kristina Blasen

To offer tips on how to stay active when reading assignments.

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What is your reading PURPOSE?

Thinking dog

“I’m reading…”

[] to understand the material

[] to get a good grade in the class

[] to pass the test

[] to get information for my research paper

[] for pleasure

[] because I’m bored

[] to understand tomorrow’s lecture

[] to get ready for tomorrow’s lab

[] to prepare my presentation

[] because my professor requires me to

[] to fall asleep

[] to understand the topic better

Source: Kristina Blasen, Image from http://moonstarsandpaper.blogspot.com/

Active Reading Tips (Click Play)

This is a 6 minute lecture on active reading with tips on how to be an active reader vs. a passive reader.

Source: Kristina Blasen

“Active Reading” - How to Read with a Purpose

Reading is not just reading the words on the page. When you read, it is important to first know why you are reading – to have a purpose. Without a purpose, students reading for an assignment tend to go on auto-pilot, skimming the pages with no recall of the information.

Pleasure reading is not the same as reading for an assignment. When you read for pleasure you read for the main ideas and for the storyline. You remember only what interests you. When you read for an assignment you are reading to absorb information, this type of reading requires a higher level of focus and takes more time. In essence, active reading is LEARNING the material and not just reading the assigned pages!

A passive reading approach would be sitting down after dinner and starting on the first page of an assigned chapter and reading straight through to the end. Lots of students do this with highlighter in hand, but then the page ends up almost completely highlighted and the reader doesn’t know what is important!

“Active” readers approach reading assignments with a purpose and develop a plan for assignments that increases comprehension and retention while reducing their time and effort to complete the assignment (Slattery, 2005).

Source: Kristina Blasen, University of Minnesota Student Academic Success Services (SASS), Scott Slattery (2005)

Active Reading

Active Reading PowerPoint slide show.

Source: Kristina Blasen, University of Minnesota Student Academic Success Center (SASS)

Questions and Answers

  • Keith
    Answers 0
    Keith — about 1 year ago

    What article or book is the quote from Slattery taken from?

  • Answers 0
    Kaylie Wood over 1 year ago

    If you are reading for pleasure and you find a question about something early on in the series or book that remains unanswered the whole time do you leave it at that or do you infer and then think about why or why not your answer is correct or incorrect?

  • Answer 1
    Montana Barlow almost 2 years ago

    Can i read faster if i can encourage myself to read faster

      Kaylie Wood answered over 1 year ago

      No. If you read slow though you can more easily pick up important details.

  • Answer 1
    T. Harmon about 2 years ago

    Are there any other reading systems that you would recommend to passive readers, other than the SQ3R?

      Lorien Gustafson answered over 1 year ago

      I have used three-column notes.
      Column one: Restate all of the headings in the chapter into questions.
      Column two: Describe all of the pictures, illustrations, diagrams, or charts in the chapter.
      Column three: Answer all the questions from column one.

  • Answer 1
    Heidi Nelson over 2 years ago

    I am curious whether you use individual note cards; mine would be scattered all over the place, or there would be piles of cards in various locations. Another thought that came to mind is regarding note taking. Some material is so tedious that writing notes helps to keep me engaged. Other sources say that it is better to read first, take notes later. What are your thoughts? Heidi

      Kristina Blasen answered over 2 years ago

      Hi Heidi, I'm like that! I use these neat ring binder notecards that come in different colors in the same pack so I might do all the terms and definitions on yellow ones and in the same notecard binder all the blue ones are reading notes and questions and the orange ones are for lecture notes, stuff like that...then I can write on the cards in class, while reading, when studying and just stick the notecards that are all bound together in my bag or in my binder. I keep one for each class and you can glue a different picture to the front of each one if you're visual and want to be able to tell them apart quickly. I usually use these for subjects where it is harder for me to focus and absorb a lot of information like research class!

      As for the read first/ then take notes question, I use the scan method, scan, look at graphs and pull outs, read the intro and conclusions to get a feel before actually reading anything- as for notes, I prefer to annotate (write comments and questions and thoughts and reactions right in the book in the margins) when reading and use a form of Cornell notetaking or Concept mapping in class and for readings depending on the subject.

  • Answers 2
    nancy woodruff almost 3 years ago

    do you feel that the reading technique you described would be difficult to learn for someone with ADHD?

      Kristina Blasen answered over 2 years ago

      Hi Nancy, I think that concept mapping is an especially helpful technique for readers with ADHD. I have a tiny packet on that, but there are scholarly articles on how to use concept mapping for retention that are really good. ~Kristina Blasen

      Mary Anastasi answered almost 3 years ago

      I think that a simplified version of this would be really helpful for someone with ADHD. In my experience, when a person with attention issues is reading, they lose focus while reading and are the ultimate "passive" readers, having absolutely no idea what they just read. If they took notes, or drew pictures, or engaged with the reading in some other way, they might take it in better. I think it is also key for them to read in shorter time segments than the average learner, so that they can stay focused.

      There is another learning packet about active reading that talks more about visualizing what you are reading. http://www.sophia.org/packets/active-reading

Academic Reviews
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