The Importance of Reading at University – OurWarwick
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The Importance of Reading at University

Hello everyone! During your time at university, reading takes on a central role as part of your approach to learning. It can seem like so much effort and time is needed in order to complete readings for lectures, seminars, essays and dissertations, but it is very important to read independently and effectively to learn significant portions of a course of study. Sadly, too many students read passively, failing to construct an accurate comprehension with the guidance of a purpose or goal for reading. The result is that too many students begin to dislike their reading and come to view it as a necessary evil. Reading doesn‘t have to be an onerous task that you dread. But, to avoid these ill feelings about reading, you will need to invest a little time to develop more active reading strategies.

Beyond your set readings, there are a variety of options open to you in terms of finding sources to read. The first stop is usually the library, where you can search both broadly or specifically for certain themes and subjects online before going to find the texts. Google Books and Google Scholar are also important resources and you can often find previews or whole books on there that may otherwise be difficult to get your hands on. JSTOR is another great source for secondary literature in the form of articles, theses, and periodicals that are often more specialised and niche in content. Sometimes it is necessary to purchase a book that you may be using very frequently and it means that you will always have a copy to hand should you need it. Be sure to read the contents of a book or have a look in the index if you aren’t sure if it will be useful or not as you can find out quickly by checking through and skim reading sections or chapters and you can also read their references and bibliography to find relevant texts.

Start off with a clear understanding of the sort of topics and issues that you want to read about and make a goal for yourself. Set out with general and broad reading to gain some basic understanding, and as your ideas develop, you can begin to read more specifically about aspects that interest you or are pertinent to your argument. When searching for sources, focus on keywords which will help you narrow down broad topics so that you can find useful information. When you read, try to understand and relate the information to other readings, ideas and themes from your lectures and seminars, and to the goals of your course and your learning. You should also be asking analytical and critical questions about what you have read as these questions enable us to think beyond simply summarising and repeating what a text has said and you can begin to form your own approach and opinion on a topic.

When you are reading something important and relevant, use a form of note taking whilst reading in detail, to keep you concentrating, aid understanding and provide you with a record of your reading. Making notes will make it easier for you to retain information as well as making it much easier to retrieve important information that you may need later for essays, exams, or for your dissertation.Underline or highlight important keywords and phrases and paraphrase text into your own words or write summaries to help you better understand what you have read. All of these aspects will help you to become a successful and efficient reader!

Thanks for reading! Kristie

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