Skills Hub

Thinking about your purpose for reading

General Principles:

Your approach to reading will depend on the text you are reading, and your purpose for reading it. For example you may be doing some background reading before a lecture, reading a text in preparation for a seminar discussion or doing research for an essay.

Whatever your purpose for reading, it is worthwhile spending some time before you begin reading noting down what you already know about the topic, and any questions that initially come to mind. You may find that you know more than you originally thought! Writing down your initial thoughts helps you to engage with the text as you read. You can refer back to your notes and ask: Do I still think that? Have I found any evidence in this text which supports my initial thoughts? Have I found any evidence which has made me change my opinion?

Activity

This activity will help you think about how to approach reading for essays at university. Choose one of the essay titles below and think about what you already know about this subject. Jot down your initial thoughts and what you'd like to find out in order to answer this question. You can do this on a piece of paper or using the on screen text box.

Essay title: Is capitalism the cause of or solution to environmental problems?

Or

Essay title: What are the influences affecting children's acquisition of gender roles?

For help with this look at our example thoughts on the question

Example thoughts on the question: Is capitalism the cause of or solution to environmental problems?

  1. What is Capitalism? - Can I find a dictionary definition?
  2. Does anyone think that Capitalism is the answer to environmental problems?
  3. I would have thought that consumerism necessarily causes environmental problems.

Example thoughts on the question: What are the influences affecting children's acquisition of gender roles?

  1. What are the possible influences? - social, environmental, biological
  2. Have gender roles changed in recent years?
  3. Is the media very influential?
  4. Are gender roles the result of nature or nurture?
Print Friendly and PDF