Why It Matters: Reading

Why should we evaluate academic reading strategies?

Reading is fundamental to writing and research at University, but often gets overlooked – lecturers assume that students know how to read, and students assume there’s only one way to read – but neither of these things is necessarily true! There are ways to read that can improve information processing, can help with building an argument, and importantly for many students, can save lots of time!! — Academic Literacy Workshops, University of Cape Town[1]

The passage above makes an important point: most of us assume we know how to read for school. However, methods that may have been fine in the past (skimming, quick reviews, relying upon class lectures or notes) won’t hold up well as we move further into higher education.

This module defines a specific category of reading–academic reading–and discusses a range of skill sets and strategies that are specific to this type of reading.

It’s helpful to remember that academic reading is an act of performance. Rather than sitting back and passively receiving information we read in college, we will be asked to directly act upon that information in some way. We will be quizzed or tested. We will be asked to debate, analyze, or critique what we read. We will need to read closely, remember the text accurately, and compare it to other texts for style and content.

The following video addresses how academic reading is a key component of inter-related skills that demonstrate mastery of critical thinking.

As this video points out, as a reader in college you will be asked to embrace a “healthy skepticism” for every idea you come in contact with. This will take energy and work–it’s much easier to accept what others tell us on face value than to critically assess each idea that comes our way. However, education in the fullest sense means developing the tools for this critical response, building it into an automatic reflex that makes us thoughtful, engaged citizens of the world around us.

Learning Outcomes

  • Evaluate various types of reading material
  • Evaluate general reading strategies
  • Evaluate reading strategies for specialized texts
  • Evaluate vocabulary usage
  • Evaluate thesis ideas of texts
  • Evaluate supporting claims of texts
  • Evaluate use of logic and structure in texts
  • Evaluate summary skills for reading comprehension