Reading comprehension is essential for academic and professional success. Reading can be as relaxing or stimulating as the subject the reader chooses. However, in order to study effectively, a reader must employ certain strategies. This process of becoming immersed in reading material in order to fully comprehend and absorb the information is called “active reading.” Learners benefit from reading with a purpose; active reading engages mindfulness and provides the strategies that identify the intention. Once a learner internalizes the process, it can yield significant rewards.
According to an article in Edutopia, “Adults forget all that they do while reading. We are predicting, making connections, contextualizing, critiquing, and already plotting how we might use any new insights or information. . . .teachers need to train students in each of these skills, and begin to do so early on.” Teachers can incorporate these strategies in the classroom to equip their students with effective learning techniques. The emphasis here is on the “active” portion of the process. Writing assists learning, so prefer marks like brackets or symbols or words on the material rather than simple highlighting.
Steps in the Active Reading Process-
1) Pose questions that will aid learning. When finding the answers in the text, mark them with words or symbols.
Why am I reading this?
What do I already know about this topic?
What am I trying to learn?
What does this mean?
Why is this important?
How and why questions are particularly helpful, as they require more detailed explanations.
2) Pay particular attention to the beginning and end of the pages.
3) Paraphrase the material in short sentences.
4) Write questions in the margins of the book if possible. If not, make notes in a notebook or note papers.
5) Develop charts or diagrams to help understanding.
6) Make up “exam” questions to help with understanding.
7) Teach the concept to someone else. “Research clearly shows that teaching is one of the most effective ways to learn. If you try to explain aloud what you have been studying, (1) you’ll transfer the information from short-term to long-term memory, and (2) you’ll quickly discover what you understand — and what you don’t.”