Approaches to reading
Your approach to reading will depend on the text you are reading and your purpose. You may be doing some background research before a lecture, reading a text to prepare for a seminar or working on an essay.
Whatever your purpose, spend some time beforehand noting what you already know about the topic, and any questions that come to mind. You may find that you know more than you think! 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 that supports my initial thoughts?
• Have I found any evidence that has made me change my opinion?
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 an appropriate app on your phone/tablet.
Essay title: Is capitalism the cause of or solution to environmental problems?
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?
- What is capitalism? Can I find a dictionary definition?
- Does anyone think that capitalism is the answer to environmental problems?
- 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?
- What are the possible influences? - social, environmental, biological
- Have gender roles changed in recent years?
- Is the media very influential?
- Are gender roles the result of nature or nurture?