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Using Libraries

Using Libraries in Person

Reading Skills

Different Methods of Reading

Finding out your Reading Speed

Researching and Writing Assignments

Note Taking

Writing a Research Report







The Learning Game

Using Written Resources

Distance learners will usually receive much of the material needed for their study by mail. A typically posting can include, for example, a study guide, readings and an assignment topic. Often this pack will contain as much information as you need to study or to do an assignment. Sometimes, though, you will need to refer to other sources, such as books or journals.

Three Types of Reading

There are 3 types of reading that you will need to do, each with a different goal.

1. Constant reference

Throughout the period of study there will be information that you will need to refer to constantly. Information about the course such as its structure, due dates for assignments and any necessary text will usually be included in an administration section at the beginning of your study guide. You will also need to take note of administrative information relating to the institution, such as fees, changes in courses, etc. Newsletters, handbooks and administration guides are all examples of information that you need for constant reference.

2. Thorough reading

Individual postings will usually contain study guides, readings and information on due dates for assignments. After reading the study guide, concentrate on the collection of readings supplied with the study guides. This is your core reading material. For some papers, particular those at 100 and 200 level, these readings and your set text book (which you are expected to buy for yourself) are usually sufficient reading to complete the course.

3. General reading

Your second priority should be the bibliographies, or lists of books and journals, articles recommended for further reading. These may be for the course in general, or for specific assignments or essays. If you are working at 300 or postgraduate level you may like to follow up any further references listed at the end of books or articles you have found particular useful. Remember that these can be harder to get hold of than items specifically recommended for your course. You will be able to be more selective about this kind of reading. Recommended reading is reading that will help you understand your subject in greater depth, but because there is usually such a vast amount of material it's easy to get carried away. Just remember that if you do have the time to do some extra reading be selective!

The SQ3R Method of Reading

This method is a useful approach to study reading if you want to thoroughly understand a passage or study guide. This is not a speed reading exercise but careful reading for understanding.

Survey: You first gain a general impression of the book by looking at the contents page, preface and introduction.

Question: Before beginning the section ask yourself why you are reading it and what you expect to learn. This will make you read with a purpose.

Read: Slow and repetitive reading is necessary to understand what the writer is saying. Look for the writer's viewpoint and check evidence and examples. Then you can begin to evaluate the writer's position.

Recall: means to go over what you have read by either orally summarizing what you read or making notes on it. Recalling immediately after reading greatly assists memory. Recalling checks that information is going in, being stored, and is able to be retrieved.

  • Don't stop to recall after every paragraph or two. It interrupts the flow of what you are reading.
  • Don't wait too long to recall if a section is long.
  • Don't underline long passages. Mark only key ideas.
  • Don't underline or make notes as you read. Mark only if you have read a passage and understood it.

Review: Reviewing the material soon after first learning it helps to ensure the memory traces are deepened and storage in long-term memory results. If reviewing is left longer than 24 hours a significant amount of stored material is lost. Reviewing consists of surveying what you have read again but this time you already know what the material is, and you are surveying to see what you remember about the key points.

Look back over your reading and check your recall. Alter or add to your notes if you left something important out. Highlight difficult areas in your notes so that you can fix them in your mind the next time you refer to your notes.

 Use Mind Maps to help to get an overview of the passage. These will help when preparing for assignments.

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The page was designed and edited in May 1998 by Karl Mair.