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Reading Practices for Academic Writing

Reading practices that improve learning and retention do not occur naturally for many students. Rather than passively reading a selection from start to finish, students must actively engage and interact with the assigned reading in order to understand, analyze, and apply what they have learned to their writing. As such, effective reading serves as the springboard to academic writing. Students must develop skillful, critical, and active reading through habits of practice. 

The following resources present strategies, skills, and techniques that will help you develop as an effective reader.

How to Read a Book v5.0 (University of Michigan). This article explains several strategies and techniques that can be applied to all types reading (i.e., books, articles, and websites) in order to gain and retain information as quickly and easily as possible.

Critical Reading Strategies (University of Minnesota, Student Writing Support). This website provides a brief summary of several critical reading strategies focused on textbook evaluation.

Critical Thinking in College Writing: From the Personal to the Academic (Writing Spaces.org). Chapter in Writing Spaces; Readings on Writing, Volume 2, a peer-reviewed open textbook series on writing. This essay defines critical thinking for student writers, explains a process to think, read, and write critically.

Reading Games: Strategies for Reading Scholarly Sources (Writing Spaces.org). Chapter in Writing Spaces; Readings on Writing, Volume 2, a peer-reviewed open textbook series on writing. The essay examines the elements of a rhetorical reading strategy – conceptualizing reading as part of an academic conversation, reading actively (and what this looks like), figuring out primary and secondary audiences, recognizing road maps embedded in the reading, and identifying the main argument and why it matters – make this chapter a powerful tool for starting classroom discussion and/or inspiring written reflection.

How to Read Like a Writer (Writing Spaces.org). Chapter in Writing Spaces; Readings on Writing, Volume 2, a peer-reviewed open textbook series on writing. The essay provides a number of critical questions used to carefully examine what you read in order to understand the choices an author of a piece of writing makes.    

Applying Critical Thinking to Reading (Air Command and Staff College). The lesson introduces a strategic reading protocol known as Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review (SQ3R), which is a step-by-step process for applying critical thinking skills to academic reading in order to extract specific information from an article or textbook.

Guide to Thinking - Intensive Reading (Harvard University). The website presents a number of deliberate and critical reading strategies to retain more information from your reading. 

Reading Techniques (Dartmouth College, Academic Skills Center). The website maintains a number of student handouts on how to use the SQ3R method and other reading techniques to improve your reading comprehension and rate of reading.

Understanding Writing Assignments: Reading Prompts (Purdue OWL). The website provides resources to help students better understand writing assignments and writing prompts. The website also presents an overview of strategies to help with writing assignments and includes three examples of writing assignment prompt analysis (see annotated assignment sheets within the website).

Reading to Write (The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill). Website presents reading, note-taking, and writing strategies when reading assignments as a springboard for writing a paper.



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