When you are eager to start on the coursework in a major that will prepare you for your chosen career, getting excited about an introductory college writing course can be difficult. However, regardless of your field of study, honing your writing, reading, and critical-thinking skills will give you a more solid foundation for success, both academically and professionally. In this chapter, you will learn about the concept of critical reading and why it is an important skill to have—not just in college but in everyday life. The same skills used for reading a textbook chapter or academic journal article are the same ones used for successfully reading an expense report, project proposal, or other professional document you may encounter in the career world.
This chapter will also cover reading, note-taking, and writing strategies, which are necessary skills for college students who often use reading assignments or research sources as the springboard for writing a paper, completing discussion questions, or preparing for class discussion.
- 3.1: What Expectations Should You Have?
- In college, academic expectations change from what you may have experienced in high school. The quantity of work expected of you increases, and the quality of the work also changes. You must do more than just understand course material and summarize it on an exam.
- 3.2: What is Critical Reading?
- Reading critically does not simply mean being moved, affected, informed, influenced, and persuaded by a piece of writing. It refers to analyzing and understanding the overall composition of the writing as well as how the writing has achieved its effect on the audience.
- 3.3: Why Do You Read Critically?
- Critical reading has many uses. If applied to a work of literature, for example, it can become the foundation for a detailed textual analysis. With scholarly articles, critical reading can help you evaluate their potential reliability as future sources.
- 3.4: How Do You Read Critically?
- How many times have you read a page in a book, or even just a paragraph, and by the end of it thought to yourself, “I have no idea what I just read; I can’t remember any of it”? Almost everyone has done it, and it’s particularly easy to do when you don’t care about the material, are not interested in the material, or if the material is full of difficult or new concepts.
- 3.5: Now What?
- After you have taken the time to read a text critically, the next step, which is covered in the next chapter, is to analyze the text rhetorically to establish a clear idea of what the author wrote and how the author wrote it, as well as how effectively the author communicated the overall message of the text.