–James Baldwin (author, playwright).
Once you determine your purpose for reading you can decide how you want to read your text. If your purpose involves a more comprehensive understanding of the text (such as for an exam or essay) you’ll want to read slowly and deliberately, annotating (taking notes), asking questions, and critically thinking about what you are reading. If you’re reading for a class discussion you may want to read slightly faster, focusing on only some of the (most important) details so you can participate and understand the discussion; you should still annotate (take notes) but it won’t need to be as thorough. Use purpose to guide your style of reading and your reading speed.
Previewing:Before reading get an understanding of what the material has to offer you. Spend 10-15 minutes looking over the material, prior to reading it, so you can be prepared to make the most of your reading time. Make mental notes of whether the material is completely new or unfamiliar
Annotating:Once you finish previewing, you can go back and carefully read the article/chapter and annotate it as you go. Your annotation style should be dictated by your purpose for reading, the style you’ve decided to read, how much time you’ve decided to invest, and how familiar (or unfamiliar) you are with the subject.
With all of that in mind, think about what you will need to look for (and annotate):
· A basic understanding of the subject for a quiz or exam? Mark main ideas, topics, key terms, and important ideas.· Writing a paper and using the article as a source? Mark facts, figures, statistics, factual information relevant to your essay.· Class discussion? Mark points of personal interest, ideas you agree or disagree with, questions you have, and points you want to raise to your classmates.
As you read you want to keep these, and other questions, in your mind to help you keep on track with your reading. By zeroing in on the answer to these questions, you will not only find the reading more “meaningful” (and probably less boring) but also more productive.· What is the structure of the text?· What questions is this text trying to answer?· What are the author’s sources?· Is this information opinion or fact? How do you know?· What evidence does the author use?· Is this a primary or secondary source?· Whose perspective are we learning?· What information can one learn from the graphics?· How does this information fit into the class?
Mapping is a visual note taking style that emphasizes relationships between ideas and the “big picture.” Mapping lends itself to the social sciences as it allows the student to see all the details (so often emphasized by instructors) as well as how those details fit into the larger subject, and mapping has many different ways it can be done depending on the material itself. Mapping can be used in either lecture note taking or book note taking.When students think of “maps” they often think of bubbles and arrows that can go all over a page in a (sometimes) very disorganized way. Though this is one kind of mapping, there are many different kinds of maps and you should make a point to be familiar with them so you can utilize them when you need them.Some examples include:· Economics: graphs, flow charts, process graphs.
|This is a map of "Supply & Demand" done from an Economics text. I'm not an Econ major so forgive my simplicity. I do, however, understand supply and demand much better now!|
· History: timelines, Venn diagrams, “comic strip” style pictures, cause/effect charts.
|Taken from Reading Across the Disciplines (Rooney 2010); a map of American history. Note that it is both a timeline (chronology) as well as cause & effect (see the arrow going from May 1773 to December 1773).|
· Behavioral sciences: flow charts, Venn diagrams, process maps, cause/effect charts.
|Done from a Human Services text, maps can help clear up differences (however subtle) between theories, people, or ideas.|
|Maps can also show processes, as this one shows the stages of bullying, clearly with use of color.|
Grid Note taking is another visual style but contains more structure that is “built in” so students find it far more organized than traditional mapping. Grid Notes can be done during a lecture, while reading, or used as a way of studying information as preparation for a test. One great thing about Grid Notes is that it makes clear if there is any information (this will make more sense in a minute).You begin by drawing a grid on your paper (in your note book or on a plain white sheet of paper), or you can create a worksheet for yourself in Excel or Word. Standard Grid Notes use the “5w+h” method: Who, What, Where, When, Why, + How: write those in the very top of your grid. It should look something like this:
For a printable Grid Notes page you can use in your class download it here [pdf] or use the following url: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B7eHp7CwQ2mDQmdFMmhJa3pYdmc
WHO? WHAT? WHERE/WHEN? HOW? WHY?
As you find information, write it in the corresponding box. For example, if your teacher mentions a name, write that name in one of the boxes under the “who” column; when your teacher gives you dates (like when that person was born, when they were active, etc.) write that information in the “when” column. If, at the end of the lecture, you have an empty box you may want to ask your teacher if that’s important information, or double-check you didn’t miss anything.This can also be used while reading or reviewing your text. You can add to your Grid Notes from lecture, or create a grid specifically for your textbook. Either way, Grid Notes is an excellent way to organize your information!
Different texts have different features that you should use in different ways. For instance, peer reviewed articles have several features, including key words, headings, and author introductions that help orient you with the work. Each section of a text provides the reader with important information that you must pay attention to in order to make the most of your reading. For instance, if you’re writing a research paper that requires that you use specific statistics or quantitative information, you will want to locate that information within the paper and spend extra time interpreting it for your own research. If, on the other hand, you must read to gain background information for a class discussion you may want to spend more time on the background, results, and the author motivation areas. In any case, you should always look carefully at who funds the study, why the study is being done, and what kinds of conclusions are being drawn as a result of the study itself.By paying attention to these features you can prepare yourself for the reading you must do and plan your reading time better:
Important because: Explains related studies, background information about the study and/or the researcher(s), and the motivations of the author.
Important because: will usually present the hypothesis of the study, as well as the preliminary evidence that may or may not support the initial hypothesis.
Important because: It explains the way the author set up the study, who was involved (patients, volunteers, etc.), the size of the study, and what data was kept and why.
Important because: goes into detail of results, heavy on numbers but important if you need information to support a hypothesis of your own.
Important because: talks about why the results of the study support or deny the hypothesis including details about statistical analysis, etc.
Important because: there may be other information about the study, including extra data, related arguments, or subsequent additions or thoughts on the study.
Important because: allows the reader to check sources; evaluate the author’s previous research, and connections between ideas.
Important because: may give the reader more information about the motivations behind the study, the author’s background, or other research that’s been done on the topic.
Important because: gives insight into who is behind the study, more motivations for the study, and any other outside influence that may or may not skew the results of the study.