reading [and writing] skills for academic work
Students in higher education probably spend more time reading at university than doing anything else – at least in terms of studying. And the same is probably true for their teachers as well. But do we always read as efficiently as we might? This book sets out to explore all aspects of this key technique of reading skills. The Fairbairns (Mr and Mrs) very wisely point out that reading is not just one, but a set of skills – and they encourage choosing your reading approach according to the nature of the task.
It is certainly true that many inexperienced students are hampered by the unconscious habit of reading everything at the same speed and with the same degree of attention. They also encourage readers to become more aware of what they are reading, why they are reading, and what is the academic objective of their reading task. They trace the development of reading skills and discuss the pros and cons of different types of reading – such as speed reading, skimming, searching, scanning, and sampling.
There are some useful tips on analysing academic books and reading lists, as well as how to take notes whilst reading. They even include a chapter which explains how to quote and cite references in academic writing; and another called ‘Reading your Own Work’ which is effectively how to edit and proof-read your writing before submitting it for assessment.
All this advice is aimed at undergraduate students – but most of it will be just as useful to other groups, such as trainee teachers who need to unravel some of the mysteries of the learning process at the same time as sharpening their own study skills.
© Roy Johnson 2001
Gavin J. Fairbairn and Susan A. Fairbairn, Reading at University: A Guide for Students, Buckingham/Philadelphia: Open University Press, 2001, pp.209, ISBN: 033520385X