Reading Resources for Students

Reading Strategies

Reading is 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.

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.

  1. Look at the headings and subheadings.
    What topics do you know will be addressed? What is the focus of the text?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  1. The premise of the “Say Something” strategy is to have students be actively thinking about their reading and conversing about their understanding of the text.
  2. Using a text, the partners decide how to “chunk” the reading into manageable parts to read. The best recommendation is by paragraphs or small sections. 
  3. Place students in pairs (student A and student B). 
  4. Have the students read the first portion of the text independently and silently (or they can read this aloud to each other), and then have student A “say something” about the reading. When student A shares, one of the following can happen:
    • Make a personal connection to the reading
    • Pose a question about what has been read
    • Summarize the reading
  5. Student B is listening while student A shares.   The time is for student A to verbalize his/her understanding.  The students will naturally engage in a dialogue about the text, and that is ok.
  6. Once student A is finished talking, the pair reads the next portion of the text silently, and then it will be student B’s turn to share one of the following:
    • Make a personal connection to the reading
    • Pose a question about what has been read
    • Make a summary comment about the reading
  7. This process continues to repeat until you feel they have read enough or understood enough of the reading.  Since the purpose of this activity is for students to practice their reading comprehension, students could do this activity outside of class.  Another variation is that students could both read and take turns discussing their talking points but then write a reflection on what they read and discussed. 


Contact Molly Broere for more information about this strategy.

Below are additional resources and tips for reading textbooks.

Reading a Textbook Effectively

Dartmouth's Academic Skills Center provides various reading strategies to help you read your textbooks.

7 Critical Reading Strategies

Salisbury University developed seven techniques to help you improve your critical reading skills.