Reading is a skill we use daily. We read our clocks and watches, menus for meals, the daily news, novels, magazines, television advertisements, and more. For each of these tasks, we apply different reading skills and strategies. In college, reading is content-focused; you need to understand the big pictures presented in textbooks or scholarly articles along with individual words.
Below you will find a few reading strategies to help you comprehend the assigned
literature for your classes:
Previewing a text allows you, the reader, to grasp the basic concepts that will be covered in a text. This contextual knowledge of what you are about to read will help you begin to make connections to knowledge you’ve already gained, and it will prepare you to learn more.
- Look at the headings and subheadings.
What topics do you know will be addressed? What is the focus of the text?
- Read the introduction and conclusion.
What is the entire chapter about? How does this relate to what is happening (or what will happen) in class?
- Read any questions at the end of the chapter.
Reading these questions will guide you to understand the purpose of the text.
One strategy for improving your comprehension is making connections. There are three types of connections you can make.
- text-to-text: Making connections between texts and concepts supports your understanding of the text. For example, if you have already read about Marxism in a Social Theory class and this theory is mentioned in your education class, then you have background knowledge you can apply to your education readings.
- text-to-self: When you connect an idea from a book to an experience in your life, then you can better relate to the concepts in the book . This paves the way to understanding. For example, if you have a dog and read a book about dog care, then you can apply your prior knowledge of dogs to the book’s discussion of how to take care of dogs.
- text-to-world: The world constantly presents you with information–think about news on the television or online. When you process this data and apply it to what you’re reading, or when you analyze what you’re reading and connect it to what is happening or has happened in the world, then you are making a text-to-world connection. With this type of connection, you look at the world or a story through another’s perspective. Your understanding of yourself and the world will broaden through your reading.
Below are additional resources and tips for reading textbooks.
Dartmouth’s Academic Skills Center
provides various reading strategies
to help you read your textbooks.
Salisbury University showcases
techniques to help you improve
your critical reading skills.