Responding to texts in college is different from high school. Professors want you to engage in constructive reading whereby you process the complex ideas and meanings frequently found in scholarly texts.
We read, research, and write about what we have learned. Academic discourse is how we communicate those ideas, or findings. As you become accustomed to source-based writing and reading rhetorically which means that you consider the context of the source: the author’s bias, his audience, writing situation, and use of rhetorical appeals, doing so will become your habit of mind. To complete your assignments, often you will read the text(s) and use the skill sets of academic writing: annotating, summarizing, quoting and paraphrasing to either critique, argue, summarize or synthesize.
The constructive reader or the reflective reader is skeptical. You do not take the text at face value, nor do you believe the meaning can be found strictly in the words. The authors of academic texts are adept at using logos, ethos, and pathos to support their theses.
How do you respond while reading? You must consider the context, writer bias, etc., and that there exists a deeper meaning which you cannot find by reading the text once or even twice. You must reflect on what you have read and consider the broader questions raised by the author. Reading and writing are connected in a way that perhaps you were not taught in high school; in college, writing is thinking on paper.