Discussion on formal business report

GENRE ANALYSIS REPORt
Write a formal business report that researches, analyzes, and reports on your investigation into one business-related genre. Reflect on your choices and techniques.To be a successful business writer, you must think rhetorically about the writing situations in which you find yourself. Understanding these rhetorical situations is a crucial aspect of your development as business writers.One way in which we understand these rhetorical situations is by becoming familiar with the genres used and how these genres follow certain patterns as well as are flexible in specific rhetorical situations.The purpose of this assignment is to apply your knowledge of genres and rhetoric by performing an investigation and analysis of business related genres.Your audience for this report will be business writers.Your purpose will be to introduce them to your chosen genre and provide information that will help them to become more aware of how the genre can be flexible in different rhetorical situations so that they can become more effective writers.You may choose a more specific audience and purpose depending on the genres you analyze; however, you must still write to business writers (not your classmates, not students, and not your instructor).FORMAT & LENGTH

Module Nine:  Writing Strategies

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College Success

Lumen Learning

 

A project created by ISKME. Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 License.

https://www.oercommons.org/courses/college-success-2/view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Strategies

 

It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it. —Jack Kerouac, author

Why Do Writing Skills Matter?

Obviously you can write. And in the age of Facebook and smartphones, you may be writing all the time—perhaps more often than speaking. Many students today are awash in text like no other generation before.

So why spend yet more time and attention on writing skills? Research shows that deliberate practice—that is, close focus on improving one’s skills—makes all the difference in how one performs. Revisiting the craft of writing—especially early in college—will improve your writing much more than simply producing page after page in the same old way. Becoming an excellent communicator will save you a lot of time and hassle in your studies, advance your career, and promote better relationships and a higher quality of life off the job. Honing your writing is a good use of your scarce time.

Also, consider this: a recent survey of employers conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 89 percent of employers say that colleges and universities should place more emphasis on “the ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing.”[1] It was the single-most favored skill in this survey. In addition, several of the other valued skills are grounded in written communication: “Critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills” (81 percent); “The ability to analyze and solve complex problems” (75 percent); and “The ability to locate, organize, and evaluate information from multiple sources” (68 percent). This emphasis on communication probably reflects the changing reality of work in the professions. Employers also reported that employees will have to “take on more responsibilities,” “use a broader set of skills,” “work harder to coordinate with other departments,” face “more complex” challenges, and mobilize “higher levels of learning and knowledge.”[2]

If you want to be a professional who interacts frequently with others, you have to be someone who can anticipate and solve complex problems and coordinate your work with others,[3] all of which depend on effective communication.

The pay-off from improving your writing comes much sooner than graduation. Suppose you complete about 40 classes for a 120-credit bachelors’ degree, and—averaging across writing-intensive and non-writing-intensive courses—you produce about 2,500 words of formal writing per class. Even with that low estimate, you’ll write 100,000 words during your college career. That’s roughly equivalent to a 330-page book.

Spending a few hours sharpening your writing skills will make those 100,000 words much easier and more rewarding to write. All of your professors care about good writing.

 

It’s Different from High School

Because most professors have different expectations, it can be tricky knowing what exactly they’re looking for. Pay attention to the comments they leave on your paper, and make sure to use these as a reference for your next assignment. I try to pay attention and adapt to the professor’s style and preferences. —Aly Button, SUNY student

By the end of high school you probably mastered many of the key conventions of standard academic English, such as paragraphing, sentence-level mechanics, and the use of thesis statements. The essay portion of the SAT measures important skills such as organizing evidence within paragraphs that relate to a clear, consistent thesis, and choosing words and sentence structures to effectively convey your meaning. These practices are foundational, and your teachers have given you a wonderful gift in helping you master them. However, college writing assignments require you to apply those skills to new intellectual challenges. Professors assign papers because they want you to think rigorously and deeply about important questions in their fields.

To your instructors, writing is for working out complex ideas, not just explaining them. A paper that would earn a top score on the SAT might only get a C or D in a college class if it doesn’t show original and ambitious thinking.

Professors look at you as independent junior scholars and expect you to write as someone who has a genuine, driving interest in tackling a complex question. They envision you approaching an assignment without a preexisting thesis. They expect you to look deep into the evidence, consider several alternative explanations, and work out an original, insightful argument that you actually care about.

 

Activity: Examining Your Writing Assignments

Objective

  • Describe the purpose of writing assignments and what an instructor might expect to see from your writing
  • Identify common types of writing tasks in a college class

Directions

  • Review the syllabi for courses you’re taking this term. Make note of the writing-based assignments you’ll be asked to complete for each course you’re taking. For each one, identify the following:
    • what kind of writing task it is (essay, journal, memo, annotated bibliography, online discussion, scientific report, etc.)
    • how much of your course grade it represents
    • how much time you estimate it will take you to complete
    • what the purpose of the assignment seems to be – why it is a graded requirement of the class
  • Compare the list you’ve generated with a small group of your classmates. How do their lists of writing assignments compare to your own? What are some common factors across writing assignments? What are some notable differences?

What to Do With Essay Assignments

Writing assignments can be as varied as the instructors who assign them. Some assignments are explicit about what exactly you’ll need to do, in what order, and how it will be graded. Some assignments are very open-ended, leaving you to determine the best path toward answering the project. Most fall somewhere in the middle, containing details about some aspects but leaving other assumptions unstated. It’s important to remember that your first resource for getting clarification about an assignment is your instructor—she or he will be very willing to talk out ideas with you, to be sure you’re prepared at each step to do well with the writing.

Most writing in college will be a direct response to class materials—an assigned reading, a discussion in class, an experiment in a lab. Generally speaking, these writing tasks can be divided into three broad categories.

 

Summary Assignments

Being asked to summarize a source is a common task in many types of writing. It can also seem like a straightforward task: simply restate, in shorter form, what the source says. A lot of advanced skills are hidden in this seemingly simple assignment, however.

An effective summary does the following:

  • reflects your accurate understanding of a source’s thesis or purpose
  • differentiates between major and minor ideas in a source
  • demonstrates your ability to identify key phrases to quote
  • demonstrates your ability to effectively paraphrase most of the source’s ideas
  • captures the tone, style, and distinguishing features of a source
  • does not reflect your personal opinion about the source

That last point is often the most challenging: we are opinionated creatures, by nature, and it can be very difficult to keep our opinions from creeping into a summary, which is meant to be completely neutral.

In college-level writing, assignments that are only summary are rare. That said, many types of writing tasks contain at least some element of summary, from a biology report that explains what happened during a chemical process, to an analysis essay that requires you to explain what several prominent positions about gun control are, as a component of comparing them against one another.

 

Defined-Topic Assignments

Many writing tasks will ask you to address a particular topic or a narrow set of topic options. Even with the topic identified, however, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what aspects of the writing will be most important when it comes to grading.

Often, the handout or other written text explaining the assignment—what professors call the assignment prompt—will explain the purpose of the assignment, the required parameters (length, number and type of sources, referencing style, etc.), and the criteria for evaluation. Sometimes, though—especially when you are new to a field—you will encounter the baffling situation in which you comprehend every single sentence in the prompt but still have absolutely no idea how to approach the assignment. No one is doing anything wrong in a situation like that. It just means that further discussion of the assignment is in order. Below are some tips:

  1. Focus on the verbs. Look for verbs like compare, explain, justify, reflect, or the all-purpose analyze. You’re not just producing a paper as an artifact; you’re conveying, in written communication, some intellectual work you have done. So the question is, what kind of thinking are you supposed to do to deepen your learning?
  2. Put the assignment in context. Many professors think in terms of assignment sequences. For example, a social science professor may ask you to write about a controversial issue three times: first, arguing for one side of the debate; second, arguing for another; and finally, from a more comprehensive and nuanced perspective, incorporating text produced in the first two assignments. A sequence like that is designed to help you think through a complex issue. If the assignment isn’t part of a sequence, think about where it falls in the span of the course (early, midterm, or toward the end), and how it relates to readings and other assignments. For example, if you see that a paper comes at the end of a three-week unit on the role of the Internet in organizational behavior, then your professor likely wants you to synthesize that material in your own way.
  3. Try a free-write. A free-write is when you just write, without stopping, for a set period of time. That doesn’t sound very “free”; it actually sounds kind of coerced, right? The “free” part is what you write—it can be whatever comes to mind. Professional writers use free-writing to get started on a challenging (or distasteful) writing task or to overcome writer’s block or a powerful urge to procrastinate. The idea is that if you just make yourself write, you can’t help but produce some kind of useful nugget. Thus, even if the first eight sentences of your free write are all variations on “I don’t understand this” or “I’d really rather be doing something else,” eventually you’ll write something like “I guess the main point of this is . . . ,” and—booyah!—you’re off and running.
  4. Ask for clarification. Even the most carefully crafted assignments may need some verbal clarification, especially if you’re new to a course or field. Try to convey to your instructor that you want to learn and you’re ready to work, and not just looking for advice on how to get an A.

Although the topic may be defined, you can’t just grind out four or five pages of discussion, explanation, or analysis. It may seem strange, but even when you’re asked to “show how” or “illustrate,” you’re still being asked to make an argument. You must shape and focus that discussion or analysis so that it supports a claim that you discovered and formulated and that all of your discussion and explanation develops and supports.

Defined-topic writing assignments are used primarily to identify your familiarity with the subject matter.

 

 

 

Undefined-Topic Assignments

Another writing assignment you’ll potentially encounter is one in which the topic may be only broadly identified (“water conservation” in an ecology course, for instance, or “the Dust Bowl” in a U.S. History course), or even completely open (“compose an argumentative research essay on a subject of your choice”).

Where defined-topic essays demonstrate your knowledge of the content, undefined-topic assignments are used to demonstrate your skills—your ability to perform academic research, to synthesize ideas, and to apply the various stages of the writing process.

The first hurdle with this type of task is to find a focus that interests you. Don’t just pick something you feel will be “easy to write about”—that almost always turns out to be a false assumption. Instead, you’ll get the most value out of, and find it easier to work on, a topic that intrigues you personally in some way.

The same getting-started ideas described for defined-topic assignments will help with these kinds of projects, too.  You can also try talking with your instructor or a writing tutor (at your college’s writing center) to help brainstorm ideas and make sure you’re on track. You want to feel confident that you’ve got a clear idea of what it means to be successful in the writing and not waste time working in a direction that won’t be fruitful.

 

The Writing Process

The following video provides an excellent overview of research essays, one of the most common kinds of writing assignments you’re likely to encounter in college.

https://youtu.be/6Jgwc3sXLCc

No writer, not even a professional, composes a perfect draft in her first attempt. Every writer fumbles and has to work through a series of steps to arrive at a high-quality finished project.

You may have encountered these steps as assignments in classes—draft a thesis statement; complete an outline; turn in a rough draft; participate in a peer review. The further you get into higher education, the less often these steps will be completed as part of class.

That’s not to say that you won’t still need to follow these steps on your own time. It helps to recognize that these steps, commonly referred to as the writing process, aren’t rigid and prescribed.  Instead, it can be liberating to see them as flexible, allowing you to adapt them to your own personal habits, preferences, and the topic at hand.  You will probably find that your process changes, depending on the type of writing you’re doing and your comfort level with the subject matter.

Consider the following flowchart of the writing process:

 

The flowchart is a helpful visualization of the steps involved, outside of the classroom, toward completing an essay.  Keep in mind that it isn’t always a linear process, though. It’s okay to loop back to earlier steps again if needed. For instance, after completing a draft, you may realize that a significant aspect of the topic is missing, which sends you back to researching.  Or the process of research may lead you to an unexpected subtopic, which shifts your focus and leads you to revise your thesis. Embrace the circular path that writing often takes!

 

Revision and Proofreading

These last two stages of the writing process are often confused with each other, but they mean very different things, and serve very different purposes.

Revision is literally “re-seeing.” It asks a writer to step away from a piece of work for a significant amount of time and return later to see it with new eyes.  This is why the process of producing multiple drafts of an essay is so important.  It allows some space in between, to let thoughts mature, connections to arise, and gaps in content or an argument to appear. It’s also difficult to do, especially given that most college students face tight time lines to get big writing projects done. Still, there are some tricks to help you “re-see” a piece of writing when you’re short on time, such as reading a paper backward, sentence by sentence, and reading your work aloud.  Both are ways of re-conceptualizing your own writing so you approach it from a fresh perspective. Whenever possible, though, build in at least a day or two to set a draft aside before returning to work on the final version.

Proofreading, on the other hand, is the very last step taken before turning in a project. This is the point where spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting all take center stage.

 

Learn these rules, and if you hate them, learn to love them. In college, writing stops being about “how well did you understand fill-in-the-blank” and becomes “how professionally and strongly do you argue your point.” Professionalism, I have found, is the key to the real world, and college is, in part, preparing you for it. If you do not learn how to write in a way that projects professionalism (i.e., these rules), then expect to get, at best, Cs on your papers. —Kaethe Leonard, SUNY student

A person can be the best writer in the world and still be a terrible proofreader. It’s okay not to memorize every rule out there, but know where to turn for help. Utilizing the grammar-check feature of your word processor is a good start, but it won’t solve every issue (and may even cause a few itself).

Your campus tutoring or writing center is a good place to turn for support and help.  They will NOT proofread your paper for you, but they will offer you strategies for how to spot issues that are a pattern in your writing.

Finding a trusted person to help you edit is perfectly ethical, as long as that person offers you advice and doesn’t actually do any of the writing for you. Professional writers rely on outside readers for both the revision and editing process, and it’s a good practice for you to do so, too.

 

Using Sources

College courses offer a few opportunities for writing that won’t require using outside resources.  Creative writing classes, applied lab classes, or field research classes will value what you create entirely from your own mind or from the work completed for the class. For most college writing, however, you will need to consult at least one outside source, and possibly more.

The following video provides a helpful overview of the ways in which sources are used most effectively and responsibly in academic writing.

Note that this video models MLA-style citations. This is one of several different styles you might be asked to practice within your classes.  Your instructors should make it clear which of the major styles they expect you to use in their courses: MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), Chicago, or another.

Regardless of the style, the same principles are true any time a source is used: give credit to the source when it is used in the writing itself, as well as in a bibliography (or Works Cited page, or References page) at the end.

 

Resources for Academic Writing

 

 

College Success

Lumen Learning

 

A project created by ISKME. Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 License.

https://www.oercommons.org/courses/college-success-2/view

 

Module Eight:  Reading Strategies

 

College Success

Cengage Publishing

 

OpenNow College Success. Authored by Cengage Learning License. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

https://oercommons.s3.amazonaws.com/media/editor/179572/CengageOpenNow_CollegeSuccessNarrative.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading Strategies

 

Introduction

 

Picture yourself sitting at a desk, a book in your hands. Your eyes are open, and it looks as if you’re reading. Suddenly your head jerks up. You blink. You realize your eyes have been scanning the page for 10 minutes, and you can’t remember a single thing you have read.

Or picture this: You’ve had a hard day. You are up at 6:00 a.m. to get the kids ready for school. A coworker calls in sick, and you miss your lunch trying to do his job as well as your own. You pick up the kids and then shop for dinner. Dinner is late, of course, and the kids are grumpy.

Finally, you get to your books at 8:00 p.m. You begin a reading assignment on something called the equity method of accounting for common stock investments. “I am preparing for the future,” you tell yourself as you plod through two paragraphs and begin the third. Suddenly, everything in the room looks different. Your head is resting on your elbow, which is resting on the equity method of accounting. The clock reads 11:00 p.m. Say goodbye to three hours.

Contrast this scenario with the image of an active reader, who exhibits the following behaviors:

  • Stays alert, poses questions about what he reads, and searches for the answers
  • Recognizes levels of information within the text, separating the main points and general principles from supporting details
  • Quizzes himself about the material, makes written notes, and lists unanswered questions
  • Instantly spots key terms and takes the time to find the definitions of unfamiliar words
  • Thinks critically about the ideas in the text and looks for ways to apply them

That sounds like a lot to do. Yet skilled readers routinely accomplish all these things and more— while enjoying the process. Successful students engage actively with reading material. They’re willing to grapple with even the most challenging texts. They wrestle meaning from each page. They fill the margins with handwritten questions. They underline, highlight, annotate, and nearly rewrite some books to make them their own.

Successful students also commit to change their lives on the basis of what they read. Of every chapter, they ask, What’s the point? And what’s the payoff? How can I use this to live my purpose and achieve my goals? These students are just as likely to create to-do lists as to take notes on their reading. And when they’re done with a useful book, successful students share its points with others for continuing conversation. Reading becomes a creative act and a tool for building a community.

One way to experience this kind of success is to approach reading with a system in mind. You can use active reading to avoid mental mini-vacations and reduce the number of unscheduled naps during study time, even after a hard day. Active reading is a way to decrease difficulty and struggle by increasing energy and skill. Once you learn these strategies, you might actually spend less time on your reading but get more out of it.

Active Reading Phase 1—Before You Read

Active reading is a three-phase technique you can use to extract the ideas and information you want. They include strategies to use before, while, and after you read. Using these strategies will help you engage with the material more effectively and therefore remember more of what you read.

Phase 1 happens before you read and includes the following steps:

Step 1: Preview. Before you start reading, preview the entire assignment. You don’t have to memorize what you preview to get value from this step.

  • Look over the table of contents and flip through the text page by page, if you are starting a new book. If you’re going to read one chapter, flip through the pages of that
  • Read all chapter headings and subheadings. Like the headlines in a newspaper, these are usually printed in large, bold type. Often, headings are brief summaries
  • Keep an eye out for summary statements. If the assignment is long or complex, read the summary first. Many textbooks have summaries in the introduction or at the end of each chapter.
  • Seek out familiar concepts, facts, or ideas when previewing. These items can help increase comprehension by linking new information to previously learned material. Take a few moments to reflect on what you already know about the subject—even if you think you know nothing. This technique prepares your brain to accept new
  • Look for ideas that spark your imagination or curiosity. Inspect drawings, diagrams, charts, tables, graphs, and
  • Imagine what kinds of questions will show up on a test. Previewing helps to clarify your purpose for reading. Ask yourself what you will do with this material and how it can relate to your long-term goals. Keep your preview short. If the entire reading assignment will take less than an hour, your preview might take five minutes. Previewing is also a way to get yourself started when an assignment looks too big to handle. It is an easy way to step into the

Step 2: Outline. With complex material, you should take the time to understand the structure of what you are about to read. Outlining actively organizes your thoughts about the assignment and can help make complex information easier to understand.

  • Spend some time studying the chapter outline in your textbook, if an outline is
  • Sketch a brief outline in the margin of the book or at the beginning of your notes on a separate sheet of paper, if an outline is not provided. Later, as you read and take notes, you can add to your outline. Headings in the text can serve as major and minor entries in your outline.

The amount of time you spend on this outlining step will vary. For some assignments, a 10- second mental outline is all you might need. For other assignments (fiction and poetry, for example), you can skip this step altogether.

Step 3: Question. Before you begin a careful reading, determine what you want from the assignment.

  • Write down a list of questions, including any questions that resulted from your preview of the

 

  • Turn chapter headings and subheadings into questions. For example, if a heading is “Transference and Suggestion,” you can ask yourself, What

are transference and suggestion? How does transference relate to suggestion?

  • Make up a quiz as if you were teaching this subject to your
  • Write specific questions about a concept if you do not understand it. The more detailed your questions, the more powerful this technique becomes. You don’t need to answer every question that you ask. The purpose of making up questions is to get your brain involved in the assignment. Take your unanswered questions to class, where they can serve as springboards for class

 

Active Reading Phase 2—While You Read, Part 1

Phase 1 of active reading is done before reading, but Phase 2 happens while you read, helping you figure out what you are looking for and setting up some context. This phase includes the following steps:

Step 4: Focus. You have previewed the reading assignment, organized it in your mind or on paper, and formulated questions. Now you are ready to begin reading.

It’s easy to fool yourself about reading. Having an open book in your hand and moving your eyes across a page don’t mean that you are reading effectively. Reading takes mental focus. As you read, be conscious of where you are and what you are doing.

To begin, get in a position to stay focused. If you observe chief executive officers, you’ll find that some of them wear out the front of their chair first. They’re literally on the edge of their seat.

Approach your reading assignment in the same way. Sit up. Keep your spine straight. Avoid reading in bed, except for fun.

Avoid marathon reading sessions. Schedule breaks, and set a reasonable goal for the entire session. Then, reward yourself with an enjoyable activity for 10 or 15 minutes every hour or two.

For difficult reading, set more limited goals. Read for a half-hour and then take a break. Most students find that shorter periods of reading distributed throughout the day and week can be more effective than long sessions.

Visualize the material. Form mental pictures of the concepts as they are presented. If you read that a voucher system can help control cash disbursements, picture a voucher handing out dollar bills. Using visual imagery in this way can help deepen your understanding of the text while allowing information to be transferred into your long-term memory.

Read the material out loud, especially if it is complicated. Some of us remember better and understand more quickly when we hear an idea.

Get a feel for the subject. For example, let’s say you are reading about a microorganism—a paramecium—in your biology text. Imagine what it would feel like to run your finger around the long, cigar-shaped body of the organism. Imagine feeling the large fold of its gullet on one side and the tickle of the hairy little cilia as they wiggle in your hand.

In addition, predict how the author will answer your key questions. Then read to find out if your predictions were accurate.

  Active Reading Phase 2—While You Read, Part 2

Once you have taken the important step of creating your focus and are aware of what you are looking for while reading, you are ready to use Step 5. During this step in Phase 2 of active reading, you use strategies for marking your text to identify the important elements.

Step 5: Flag answers. As you read, seek out the answers to your questions. You are a detective, watching for every clue. When you do find an answer, flag it so that it stands out on the page.

Deface your books. Flag answers by highlighting, underlining, writing comments, filling in your outline, or marking up pages in any other way that helps you. Indulge yourself as you never could with your grade school books.

Marking up your books offers other benefits. When you read with a highlighter, pen, or pencil in your hand, you involve your kinesthetic senses of touch and motion. Being physical with your books can help build strong neural pathways in your memory. You can mark up a text in many ways. For example:

  • Place an asterisk (*) or an exclamation point (!) in the margin next to an especially important sentence or
  • Circle key terms and words to look up later in a
  • Write short definitions of key terms in the
  • Write a Q in the margin to highlight possible test questions, passages you don’t understand, and questions to ask in
  • Write personal comments in the margin—points of agreement or disagreement with the author.
  • Write mini-indexes in the margin—that is, the numbers of other pages in the book where the same topic is
  • Write summaries in your own
  • Rewrite chapter titles, headings, and subheadings so that they’re more meaningful to you.
  • Draw diagrams, pictures, tables, or maps that translate text into visual
  • Number each step in a list or series of related
  • In the margins, write notes about the relationships between elements in your reading. For example, note connections between an idea and examples of that
  • If you infer an answer to a question or come up with another idea of your own, write that down as

Avoid marking up a textbook too soon. Wait until you complete a chapter or section to make sure you know the key points and then mark it up. Sometimes, flagging answers after you read each paragraph works best.

Also remember that the purpose of making marks in a text is to call out important concepts or information that you will review later. Flagging key information can save lots of time when you are studying for tests. With this in mind, highlight or underline sparingly—usually less than 10 percent of the text. If you mark up too much on a page, you defeat the purpose: to flag the most important material for review.

Finally, jot down new questions, and note when you don’t find the answers you are looking for. Ask these questions in class, or see your instructor personally. Demand that your textbooks give you what you want—answers.

  Active Reading Phase 3—After You Read

At the end of Phase 2, your reading is complete, but to get the most out of what you just read, it’s important to complete the final phase of active reading—Phase 3. This phase happens after you read and includes the following steps:

Step 6: Recite. Talk to yourself about what you’ve read. Or talk to someone else. When you finish a reading assignment, make a speech about it. When you recite, you practice an important aspect of metacognition—synthesis, or combining individual ideas and facts into a meaningful whole.

One way to recite is to look at each underlined point. Note what you marked; then, put the book down and start talking out loud. Explain as much as you can about that particular point. To make this technique more effective, do it in front of a mirror. It might seem silly, but the benefits can be enormous. Reap them at exam time.

A related technique is to stop reading periodically and write a short, free-form summary of what you just read. In one study, this informal “retrieval practice” helped students recall information better than other study techniques did (Karpicke and Blunt 2011).

Classmates are even better than mirrors. Form a group to practice teaching one another what you have read. One of the best ways to learn anything is to teach it to someone else. In addition, talk about your reading whenever you can. Tell friends and family members what you’re learning.

Talking about your reading reinforces a valuable skill—the ability to summarize. To practice this skill, pick one chapter (or one section of one chapter) from any of your textbooks. State the main topic covered in the chapter. Then, state the main points that the author makes about the topic.

Step 7: Review. Plan to do your first complete review within 24 hours of reading the material. Sound the trumpets! This point is critical: A review within 24 hours moves information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.

Review within one day. If you read it on Wednesday, review it on Thursday. During this review, look over your notes and clear up anything you don’t understand. Recite some of the main points.

This review can be short. You might spend as little as 15 minutes reviewing a difficult two-hour reading assignment. Investing that time now can save you hours later when studying for exams.

Step 8: Review again. This final step can be very short—perhaps only four or five minutes per assignment. Simply go over your notes. Read the highlighted parts of your text. Recite one or two of the more complicated points.

The purpose of these reviews is to keep the neural pathways to the information open and to make them more distinct. That way, the information can be easier to recall. You can accomplish these short reviews anytime, anywhere, if you are prepared.

Sometimes, longer review periods are appropriate. For example, if you found an assignment difficult, consider rereading it. Start over, as if you had never seen the material before.

Sometimes, a second reading will provide you with surprising insights. Decades ago, psychologists identified the primacy-recency effect, which suggests that we most easily remember the first and last items in any presentation (Pineño and Miller 2005). Previewing and reviewing your reading can put this theory to work for you.

  Dealing With Challenging Texts

Successful readers monitor their understanding of reading material. They do not see confusion as a mistake or a personal shortcoming. Instead, they take it as a cue to change reading strategies and process ideas at a deeper level.

Read it again. Somehow, students get the idea that reading means opening a book and dutifully slogging through the text—line by line, page by page—moving in a straight line from the first word to the last. Feel free to shake up your routine. Make several passes through tough reading material. During a preview, for example, just scan the text to look for key words and highlighted material. Next, skim the entire chapter or article again, spending a little more time and taking in more than you did during your preview. Finally, read in more depth.

Read it out loud. Make noise. Read a passage out loud several times, each time using a different inflection and emphasizing a different part of the sentence. Be creative. Imagine that you are the author talking.

Use another text. Find a similar text in the library. Sometimes a concept is easier to understand if it is expressed another way. Children’s books—especially children’s encyclopedias—can provide useful overviews of baffling subjects.

Talk to someone who can help. Admit when you are stuck. Then, bring questions about reading assignments to classmates and members of your study group. Also, make an appointment with your instructor. Most teachers welcome the opportunity to work individually with students. Be specific about your confusion. Point out the paragraph that you found toughest to understand.

  Reading Faster

One way to read faster is to read faster. This idea might sound like double-talk, but it is a serious suggestion. The fact is, you can probably read faster—without any loss in comprehension— simply by making a conscious effort to do so. Your comprehension might even improve. You might try the following suggestions.

Move your eyes faster. When we read, our eyes leap across the page in short bursts called saccades (pronounced “să-käds”). A saccade is also a sharp jerk on the reins of a horse—a violent pull to stop the animal quickly. Our eyes stop like that, too, in pauses called fixations.

Although we experience the illusion of continuously scanning each line, we actually take in groups of words—usually about three at a time. For more than 90 percent of reading time, our eyes are at a dead stop, in those fixations.

One way to decrease saccades is to follow your finger as you read. The faster your finger moves, the faster your eyes move. You can also use a pen, pencil, or 3 × 5 card as a guide.

Your eyes can move faster if they take in more words with each burst—for example, six instead of three. To practice taking in more words between fixations, find a newspaper with narrow columns. Read down one column at a time, and fixate only once per line.

In addition to using the above techniques, simply make a conscious effort to fixate less. You might feel a little uncomfortable at first. That’s normal. Just practice often, for short periods.

Notice and release ineffective habits. Our eyes make regressions; that is, they back up and reread words. You can reduce regressions by paying attention to them. Use the handy 3 × 5 card to cover words and lines that you have just read. You can then note how often you stop and move the card back to reread the text. Don’t be discouraged if you stop often at first. Being aware of it helps you regress less frequently.

Also notice vocalizing. You are more likely to read faster if you don’t read out loud or move your lips. You can also increase your speed if you don’t subvocalize—that is, if you don’t mentally “hear” the words as you read them. To stop doing it, just be aware of it.

When you first attempt to release these habits, choose simpler reading material. That way, you can pay closer attention to your reading technique. Gradually work your way up to more complex material.

Stay flexible. Remember that speed isn’t everything. Skillful readers vary their reading rate according to their purpose and the nature of the material. An advanced text in analytic geometry usually calls for a different reading rate than the Sunday comics.

You also can use different reading rates on the same material. For example, you might first sprint through an assignment for the key words and ideas, and then return to the difficult parts for a slower and more thorough reading.

Another option is to divide a large reading assignment into smaller sections and use different reading strategies for each one. You might choose to read the first and last sections in detail, for example, and skim the middle sections.

As a general guideline, slow down your reading pace for material that’s technical and unfamiliar to you. Speed up for material that’s familiar, staying alert for anything that seems new or significant.

Also remember that reading faster without comprehension can actually increase the amount of time that you study. Balance the desire for speed with the need for understanding what you read.

Finally, remember the first rule of reading fast: Just do it!

  Building Your Vocabulary

Having a large vocabulary makes reading more enjoyable and increases the range of materials you can explore. In addition, building your vocabulary gives you more options for self-expression when speaking or writing. With a larger vocabulary, you can think more precisely by making finer distinctions between ideas. And you won’t have to stop to search for words at crucial times, such as a job interview.

Strengthen your vocabulary by looking up unfamiliar terms. A desk dictionary is an easy-to- handle abridged dictionary that you can use many times in the course of a day. In contrast, an unabridged dictionary is large and not made for you to carry around. It provides more complete information about words and definitions not included in your desk dictionary as well as synonyms, usage notes, and word histories. Look for unabridged dictionaries in libraries and bookstores.

You might prefer using one of several online dictionaries, such as Dictionary.com. Another common option is to use a search engine such as Google.com. If you do this, inspect the results carefully. They can vary in quality and be less useful than the definitions you’d find in a good dictionary or thesaurus.

Construct a word stack. When you come across an unfamiliar word, write it down on a 3 × 5 card. Below the word, copy the sentence in which it was used, along with the page number. You can look up each word immediately, or you can accumulate a stack of these cards and look up the words later. Write the definition of each word on the back of the 3 × 5 card, adding the diacritics—marks that tell you how to pronounce it.

To expand your vocabulary and learn the history behind the words, take your stack of cards to an unabridged dictionary. As you find related words in the dictionary, add them to your stack. These cards become a portable study aid that you can review in your spare moments.

Learn—even when your dictionary is across town. When you are listening to a lecture and hear an unusual word or when you are reading on the bus and encounter a word you don’t know, you can still build your word stack. Pull out a 3 × 5 card and write down the word and its sentence. Or make a note of the word on your cell phone. Later, you can look up the definition and write it on the back of the card.

Divide words into parts. Another suggestion for building your vocabulary is to divide an unfamiliar word into syllables and look for familiar parts. This strategy works well if you make it a point to learn common prefixes (beginning syllables) and suffixes (ending syllables).

For example, the suffix-tude usually refers to a condition or state of being. Knowing this makes it easier to conclude that habitude refers to a usual way of doing something and that similitude means being similar or having a quality of resemblance.

Infer the meaning of words from their context. You can often deduce the meaning of an unfamiliar word simply by paying attention to its context—the surrounding words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or images. Practice looking for context clues such as these:

  • A key word might be defined right in the text. Look for phrases such as defined as or in other words.
  • Authors often provide examples to clarify a word meaning. If the word is not explicitly defined, then study the examples. They’re often preceded by the phrases for example, for instance, or such as.
  • When a word is listed in a series, pay attention to the other items in the series. They might define the unfamiliar word through association.
  • You might find a new word surrounded by synonyms—words with a similar meaning. Look for synonyms after words such as like and as.
  • A writer might juxtapose a word with its antonym. Look for phrases such as on the contrary and on the other hand.

References

Karpicke, Jeffrey D., and Janell R. Blunt. “Retrieval practice produces more learning than elaborative studying with concept

mapping.” Science. www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2011/01/19/science.1199327.abstract (accessed January 21, 2011).

Pineño, Oskar and Ralph R. Miller. “Primacy and recency effects in extinction and latent inhibition: A selective review with implications for models of learning.” Behavioural Processes 69, 5): 223–235.

 

College Success

Cengage Publishing

 

OpenNow College Success. Authored by Cengage Learning License. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

https://oercommons.s3.amazonaws.com/media/editor/179572/CengageOpenNow_CollegeSuccessNarrative.pdf

 

 

Module Nine:  Writing Strategies

 

College Success

Lumen Learning

 

A project created by ISKME. Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 License.

https://www.oercommons.org/courses/college-success-2/view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Strategies

 

It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it. —Jack Kerouac, author

Why Do Writing Skills Matter?

Obviously you can write. And in the age of Facebook and smartphones, you may be writing all the time—perhaps more often than speaking. Many students today are awash in text like no other generation before.

So why spend yet more time and attention on writing skills? Research shows that deliberate practice—that is, close focus on improving one’s skills—makes all the difference in how one performs. Revisiting the craft of writing—especially early in college—will improve your writing much more than simply producing page after page in the same old way. Becoming an excellent communicator will save you a lot of time and hassle in your studies, advance your career, and promote better relationships and a higher quality of life off the job. Honing your writing is a good use of your scarce time.

Also, consider this: a recent survey of employers conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 89 percent of employers say that colleges and universities should place more emphasis on “the ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing.”[1] It was the single-most favored skill in this survey. In addition, several of the other valued skills are grounded in written communication: “Critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills” (81 percent); “The ability to analyze and solve complex problems” (75 percent); and “The ability to locate, organize, and evaluate information from multiple sources” (68 percent). This emphasis on communication probably reflects the changing reality of work in the professions. Employers also reported that employees will have to “take on more responsibilities,” “use a broader set of skills,” “work harder to coordinate with other departments,” face “more complex” challenges, and mobilize “higher levels of learning and knowledge.”[2]

If you want to be a professional who interacts frequently with others, you have to be someone who can anticipate and solve complex problems and coordinate your work with others,[3] all of which depend on effective communication.

The pay-off from improving your writing comes much sooner than graduation. Suppose you complete about 40 classes for a 120-credit bachelors’ degree, and—averaging across writing-intensive and non-writing-intensive courses—you produce about 2,500 words of formal writing per class. Even with that low estimate, you’ll write 100,000 words during your college career. That’s roughly equivalent to a 330-page book.

Spending a few hours sharpening your writing skills will make those 100,000 words much easier and more rewarding to write. All of your professors care about good writing.

 

It’s Different from High School

Because most professors have different expectations, it can be tricky knowing what exactly they’re looking for. Pay attention to the comments they leave on your paper, and make sure to use these as a reference for your next assignment. I try to pay attention and adapt to the professor’s style and preferences. —Aly Button, SUNY student

By the end of high school you probably mastered many of the key conventions of standard academic English, such as paragraphing, sentence-level mechanics, and the use of thesis statements. The essay portion of the SAT measures important skills such as organizing evidence within paragraphs that relate to a clear, consistent thesis, and choosing words and sentence structures to effectively convey your meaning. These practices are foundational, and your teachers have given you a wonderful gift in helping you master them. However, college writing assignments require you to apply those skills to new intellectual challenges. Professors assign papers because they want you to think rigorously and deeply about important questions in their fields.

To your instructors, writing is for working out complex ideas, not just explaining them. A paper that would earn a top score on the SAT might only get a C or D in a college class if it doesn’t show original and ambitious thinking.

Professors look at you as independent junior scholars and expect you to write as someone who has a genuine, driving interest in tackling a complex question. They envision you approaching an assignment without a preexisting thesis. They expect you to look deep into the evidence, consider several alternative explanations, and work out an original, insightful argument that you actually care about.

 

Activity: Examining Your Writing Assignments

Objective

  • Describe the purpose of writing assignments and what an instructor might expect to see from your writing
  • Identify common types of writing tasks in a college class

Directions

  • Review the syllabi for courses you’re taking this term. Make note of the writing-based assignments you’ll be asked to complete for each course you’re taking. For each one, identify the following:
    • what kind of writing task it is (essay, journal, memo, annotated bibliography, online discussion, scientific report, etc.)
    • how much of your course grade it represents
    • how much time you estimate it will take you to complete
    • what the purpose of the assignment seems to be – why it is a graded requirement of the class
  • Compare the list you’ve generated with a small group of your classmates. How do their lists of writing assignments compare to your own? What are some common factors across writing assignments? What are some notable differences?

What to Do With Essay Assignments

Writing assignments can be as varied as the instructors who assign them. Some assignments are explicit about what exactly you’ll need to do, in what order, and how it will be graded. Some assignments are very open-ended, leaving you to determine the best path toward answering the project. Most fall somewhere in the middle, containing details about some aspects but leaving other assumptions unstated. It’s important to remember that your first resource for getting clarification about an assignment is your instructor—she or he will be very willing to talk out ideas with you, to be sure you’re prepared at each step to do well with the writing.

Most writing in college will be a direct response to class materials—an assigned reading, a discussion in class, an experiment in a lab. Generally speaking, these writing tasks can be divided into three broad categories.

 

Summary Assignments

Being asked to summarize a source is a common task in many types of writing. It can also seem like a straightforward task: simply restate, in shorter form, what the source says. A lot of advanced skills are hidden in this seemingly simple assignment, however.

An effective summary does the following:

  • reflects your accurate understanding of a source’s thesis or purpose
  • differentiates between major and minor ideas in a source
  • demonstrates your ability to identify key phrases to quote
  • demonstrates your ability to effectively paraphrase most of the source’s ideas
  • captures the tone, style, and distinguishing features of a source
  • does not reflect your personal opinion about the source

That last point is often the most challenging: we are opinionated creatures, by nature, and it can be very difficult to keep our opinions from creeping into a summary, which is meant to be completely neutral.

In college-level writing, assignments that are only summary are rare. That said, many types of writing tasks contain at least some element of summary, from a biology report that explains what happened during a chemical process, to an analysis essay that requires you to explain what several prominent positions about gun control are, as a component of comparing them against one another.

 

Defined-Topic Assignments

Many writing tasks will ask you to address a particular topic or a narrow set of topic options. Even with the topic identified, however, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what aspects of the writing will be most important when it comes to grading.

Often, the handout or other written text explaining the assignment—what professors call the assignment prompt—will explain the purpose of the assignment, the required parameters (length, number and type of sources, referencing style, etc.), and the criteria for evaluation. Sometimes, though—especially when you are new to a field—you will encounter the baffling situation in which you comprehend every single sentence in the prompt but still have absolutely no idea how to approach the assignment. No one is doing anything wrong in a situation like that. It just means that further discussion of the assignment is in order. Below are some tips:

  1. Focus on the verbs. Look for verbs like compare, explain, justify, reflect, or the all-purpose analyze. You’re not just producing a paper as an artifact; you’re conveying, in written communication, some intellectual work you have done. So the question is, what kind of thinking are you supposed to do to deepen your learning?
  2. Put the assignment in context. Many professors think in terms of assignment sequences. For example, a social science professor may ask you to write about a controversial issue three times: first, arguing for one side of the debate; second, arguing for another; and finally, from a more comprehensive and nuanced perspective, incorporating text produced in the first two assignments. A sequence like that is designed to help you think through a complex issue. If the assignment isn’t part of a sequence, think about where it falls in the span of the course (early, midterm, or toward the end), and how it relates to readings and other assignments. For example, if you see that a paper comes at the end of a three-week unit on the role of the Internet in organizational behavior, then your professor likely wants you to synthesize that material in your own way.
  3. Try a free-write. A free-write is when you just write, without stopping, for a set period of time. That doesn’t sound very “free”; it actually sounds kind of coerced, right? The “free” part is what you write—it can be whatever comes to mind. Professional writers use free-writing to get started on a challenging (or distasteful) writing task or to overcome writer’s block or a powerful urge to procrastinate. The idea is that if you just make yourself write, you can’t help but produce some kind of useful nugget. Thus, even if the first eight sentences of your free write are all variations on “I don’t understand this” or “I’d really rather be doing something else,” eventually you’ll write something like “I guess the main point of this is . . . ,” and—booyah!—you’re off and running.
  4. Ask for clarification. Even the most carefully crafted assignments may need some verbal clarification, especially if you’re new to a course or field. Try to convey to your instructor that you want to learn and you’re ready to work, and not just looking for advice on how to get an A.

Although the topic may be defined, you can’t just grind out four or five pages of discussion, explanation, or analysis. It may seem strange, but even when you’re asked to “show how” or “illustrate,” you’re still being asked to make an argument. You must shape and focus that discussion or analysis so that it supports a claim that you discovered and formulated and that all of your discussion and explanation develops and supports.

Defined-topic writing assignments are used primarily to identify your familiarity with the subject matter.

 

 

 

Undefined-Topic Assignments

Another writing assignment you’ll potentially encounter is one in which the topic may be only broadly identified (“water conservation” in an ecology course, for instance, or “the Dust Bowl” in a U.S. History course), or even completely open (“compose an argumentative research essay on a subject of your choice”).

Where defined-topic essays demonstrate your knowledge of the content, undefined-topic assignments are used to demonstrate your skills—your ability to perform academic research, to synthesize ideas, and to apply the various stages of the writing process.

The first hurdle with this type of task is to find a focus that interests you. Don’t just pick something you feel will be “easy to write about”—that almost always turns out to be a false assumption. Instead, you’ll get the most value out of, and find it easier to work on, a topic that intrigues you personally in some way.

The same getting-started ideas described for defined-topic assignments will help with these kinds of projects, too.  You can also try talking with your instructor or a writing tutor (at your college’s writing center) to help brainstorm ideas and make sure you’re on track. You want to feel confident that you’ve got a clear idea of what it means to be successful in the writing and not waste time working in a direction that won’t be fruitful.

 

The Writing Process

The following video provides an excellent overview of research essays, one of the most common kinds of writing assignments you’re likely to encounter in college.

https://youtu.be/6Jgwc3sXLCc

No writer, not even a professional, composes a perfect draft in her first attempt. Every writer fumbles and has to work through a series of steps to arrive at a high-quality finished project.

You may have encountered these steps as assignments in classes—draft a thesis statement; complete an outline; turn in a rough draft; participate in a peer review. The further you get into higher education, the less often these steps will be completed as part of class.

That’s not to say that you won’t still need to follow these steps on your own time. It helps to recognize that these steps, commonly referred to as the writing process, aren’t rigid and prescribed.  Instead, it can be liberating to see them as flexible, allowing you to adapt them to your own personal habits, preferences, and the topic at hand.  You will probably find that your process changes, depending on the type of writing you’re doing and your comfort level with the subject matter.

Consider the following flowchart of the writing process:

 

The flowchart is a helpful visualization of the steps involved, outside of the classroom, toward completing an essay.  Keep in mind that it isn’t always a linear process, though. It’s okay to loop back to earlier steps again if needed. For instance, after completing a draft, you may realize that a significant aspect of the topic is missing, which sends you back to researching.  Or the process of research may lead you to an unexpected subtopic, which shifts your focus and leads you to revise your thesis. Embrace the circular path that writing often takes!

 

Revision and Proofreading

These last two stages of the writing process are often confused with each other, but they mean very different things, and serve very different purposes.

Revision is literally “re-seeing.” It asks a writer to step away from a piece of work for a significant amount of time and return later to see it with new eyes.  This is why the process of producing multiple drafts of an essay is so important.  It allows some space in between, to let thoughts mature, connections to arise, and gaps in content or an argument to appear. It’s also difficult to do, especially given that most college students face tight time lines to get big writing projects done. Still, there are some tricks to help you “re-see” a piece of writing when you’re short on time, such as reading a paper backward, sentence by sentence, and reading your work aloud.  Both are ways of re-conceptualizing your own writing so you approach it from a fresh perspective. Whenever possible, though, build in at least a day or two to set a draft aside before returning to work on the final version.

Proofreading, on the other hand, is the very last step taken before turning in a project. This is the point where spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting all take center stage.

 

Learn these rules, and if you hate them, learn to love them. In college, writing stops being about “how well did you understand fill-in-the-blank” and becomes “how professionally and strongly do you argue your point.” Professionalism, I have found, is the key to the real world, and college is, in part, preparing you for it. If you do not learn how to write in a way that projects professionalism (i.e., these rules), then expect to get, at best, Cs on your papers. —Kaethe Leonard, SUNY student

A person can be the best writer in the world and still be a terrible proofreader. It’s okay not to memorize every rule out there, but know where to turn for help. Utilizing the grammar-check feature of your word processor is a good start, but it won’t solve every issue (and may even cause a few itself).

Your campus tutoring or writing center is a good place to turn for support and help.  They will NOT proofread your paper for you, but they will offer you strategies for how to spot issues that are a pattern in your writing.

Finding a trusted person to help you edit is perfectly ethical, as long as that person offers you advice and doesn’t actually do any of the writing for you. Professional writers rely on outside readers for both the revision and editing process, and it’s a good practice for you to do so, too.

 

Using Sources

College courses offer a few opportunities for writing that won’t require using outside resources.  Creative writing classes, applied lab classes, or field research classes will value what you create entirely from your own mind or from the work completed for the class. For most college writing, however, you will need to consult at least one outside source, and possibly more.

The following video provides a helpful overview of the ways in which sources are used most effectively and responsibly in academic writing.

Note that this video models MLA-style citations. This is one of several different styles you might be asked to practice within your classes.  Your instructors should make it clear which of the major styles they expect you to use in their courses: MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), Chicago, or another.

Regardless of the style, the same principles are true any time a source is used: give credit to the source when it is used in the writing itself, as well as in a bibliography (or Works Cited page, or References page) at the end.

 

Resources for Academic Writing

 

 

College Success

Lumen Learning

 

A project created by ISKME. Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 License.

https://www.oercommons.org/courses/college-success-2/view

 

Module Eight:  Reading Strategies

 

College Success

Cengage Publishing

 

OpenNow College Success. Authored by Cengage Learning License. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

https://oercommons.s3.amazonaws.com/media/editor/179572/CengageOpenNow_CollegeSuccessNarrative.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading Strategies

 

Introduction

 

Picture yourself sitting at a desk, a book in your hands. Your eyes are open, and it looks as if you’re reading. Suddenly your head jerks up. You blink. You realize your eyes have been scanning the page for 10 minutes, and you can’t remember a single thing you have read.

Or picture this: You’ve had a hard day. You are up at 6:00 a.m. to get the kids ready for school. A coworker calls in sick, and you miss your lunch trying to do his job as well as your own. You pick up the kids and then shop for dinner. Dinner is late, of course, and the kids are grumpy.

Finally, you get to your books at 8:00 p.m. You begin a reading assignment on something called the equity method of accounting for common stock investments. “I am preparing for the future,” you tell yourself as you plod through two paragraphs and begin the third. Suddenly, everything in the room looks different. Your head is resting on your elbow, which is resting on the equity method of accounting. The clock reads 11:00 p.m. Say goodbye to three hours.

Contrast this scenario with the image of an active reader, who exhibits the following behaviors:

  • Stays alert, poses questions about what he reads, and searches for the answers
  • Recognizes levels of information within the text, separating the main points and general principles from supporting details
  • Quizzes himself about the material, makes written notes, and lists unanswered questions
  • Instantly spots key terms and takes the time to find the definitions of unfamiliar words
  • Thinks critically about the ideas in the text and looks for ways to apply them

That sounds like a lot to do. Yet skilled readers routinely accomplish all these things and more— while enjoying the process. Successful students engage actively with reading material. They’re willing to grapple with even the most challenging texts. They wrestle meaning from each page. They fill the margins with handwritten questions. They underline, highlight, annotate, and nearly rewrite some books to make them their own.

Successful students also commit to change their lives on the basis of what they read. Of every chapter, they ask, What’s the point? And what’s the payoff? How can I use this to live my purpose and achieve my goals? These students are just as likely to create to-do lists as to take notes on their reading. And when they’re done with a useful book, successful students share its points with others for continuing conversation. Reading becomes a creative act and a tool for building a community.

One way to experience this kind of success is to approach reading with a system in mind. You can use active reading to avoid mental mini-vacations and reduce the number of unscheduled naps during study time, even after a hard day. Active reading is a way to decrease difficulty and struggle by increasing energy and skill. Once you learn these strategies, you might actually spend less time on your reading but get more out of it.

Active Reading Phase 1—Before You Read

Active reading is a three-phase technique you can use to extract the ideas and information you want. They include strategies to use before, while, and after you read. Using these strategies will help you engage with the material more effectively and therefore remember more of what you read.

Phase 1 happens before you read and includes the following steps:

Step 1: Preview. Before you start reading, preview the entire assignment. You don’t have to memorize what you preview to get value from this step.

  • Look over the table of contents and flip through the text page by page, if you are starting a new book. If you’re going to read one chapter, flip through the pages of that
  • Read all chapter headings and subheadings. Like the headlines in a newspaper, these are usually printed in large, bold type. Often, headings are brief summaries
  • Keep an eye out for summary statements. If the assignment is long or complex, read the summary first. Many textbooks have summaries in the introduction or at the end of each chapter.
  • Seek out familiar concepts, facts, or ideas when previewing. These items can help increase comprehension by linking new information to previously learned material. Take a few moments to reflect on what you already know about the subject—even if you think you know nothing. This technique prepares your brain to accept new
  • Look for ideas that spark your imagination or curiosity. Inspect drawings, diagrams, charts, tables, graphs, and
  • Imagine what kinds of questions will show up on a test. Previewing helps to clarify your purpose for reading. Ask yourself what you will do with this material and how it can relate to your long-term goals. Keep your preview short. If the entire reading assignment will take less than an hour, your preview might take five minutes. Previewing is also a way to get yourself started when an assignment looks too big to handle. It is an easy way to step into the

Step 2: Outline. With complex material, you should take the time to understand the structure of what you are about to read. Outlining actively organizes your thoughts about the assignment and can help make complex information easier to understand.

  • Spend some time studying the chapter outline in your textbook, if an outline is
  • Sketch a brief outline in the margin of the book or at the beginning of your notes on a separate sheet of paper, if an outline is not provided. Later, as you read and take notes, you can add to your outline. Headings in the text can serve as major and minor entries in your outline.

The amount of time you spend on this outlining step will vary. For some assignments, a 10- second mental outline is all you might need. For other assignments (fiction and poetry, for example), you can skip this step altogether.

Step 3: Question. Before you begin a careful reading, determine what you want from the assignment.

  • Write down a list of questions, including any questions that resulted from your preview of the

 

  • Turn chapter headings and subheadings into questions. For example, if a heading is “Transference and Suggestion,” you can ask yourself, What

are transference and suggestion? How does transference relate to suggestion?

  • Make up a quiz as if you were teaching this subject to your
  • Write specific questions about a concept if you do not understand it. The more detailed your questions, the more powerful this technique becomes. You don’t need to answer every question that you ask. The purpose of making up questions is to get your brain involved in the assignment. Take your unanswered questions to class, where they can serve as springboards for class

 

Active Reading Phase 2—While You Read, Part 1

Phase 1 of active reading is done before reading, but Phase 2 happens while you read, helping you figure out what you are looking for and setting up some context. This phase includes the following steps:

Step 4: Focus. You have previewed the reading assignment, organized it in your mind or on paper, and formulated questions. Now you are ready to begin reading.

It’s easy to fool yourself about reading. Having an open book in your hand and moving your eyes across a page don’t mean that you are reading effectively. Reading takes mental focus. As you read, be conscious of where you are and what you are doing.

To begin, get in a position to stay focused. If you observe chief executive officers, you’ll find that some of them wear out the front of their chair first. They’re literally on the edge of their seat.

Approach your reading assignment in the same way. Sit up. Keep your spine straight. Avoid reading in bed, except for fun.

Avoid marathon reading sessions. Schedule breaks, and set a reasonable goal for the entire session. Then, reward yourself with an enjoyable activity for 10 or 15 minutes every hour or two.

For difficult reading, set more limited goals. Read for a half-hour and then take a break. Most students find that shorter periods of reading distributed throughout the day and week can be more effective than long sessions.

Visualize the material. Form mental pictures of the concepts as they are presented. If you read that a voucher system can help control cash disbursements, picture a voucher handing out dollar bills. Using visual imagery in this way can help deepen your understanding of the text while allowing information to be transferred into your long-term memory.

Read the material out loud, especially if it is complicated. Some of us remember better and understand more quickly when we hear an idea.

Get a feel for the subject. For example, let’s say you are reading about a microorganism—a paramecium—in your biology text. Imagine what it would feel like to run your finger around the long, cigar-shaped body of the organism. Imagine feeling the large fold of its gullet on one side and the tickle of the hairy little cilia as they wiggle in your hand.

In addition, predict how the author will answer your key questions. Then read to find out if your predictions were accurate.

  Active Reading Phase 2—While You Read, Part 2

Once you have taken the important step of creating your focus and are aware of what you are looking for while reading, you are ready to use Step 5. During this step in Phase 2 of active reading, you use strategies for marking your text to identify the important elements.

Step 5: Flag answers. As you read, seek out the answers to your questions. You are a detective, watching for every clue. When you do find an answer, flag it so that it stands out on the page.

Deface your books. Flag answers by highlighting, underlining, writing comments, filling in your outline, or marking up pages in any other way that helps you. Indulge yourself as you never could with your grade school books.

Marking up your books offers other benefits. When you read with a highlighter, pen, or pencil in your hand, you involve your kinesthetic senses of touch and motion. Being physical with your books can help build strong neural pathways in your memory. You can mark up a text in many ways. For example:

  • Place an asterisk (*) or an exclamation point (!) in the margin next to an especially important sentence or
  • Circle key terms and words to look up later in a
  • Write short definitions of key terms in the
  • Write a Q in the margin to highlight possible test questions, passages you don’t understand, and questions to ask in
  • Write personal comments in the margin—points of agreement or disagreement with the author.
  • Write mini-indexes in the margin—that is, the numbers of other pages in the book where the same topic is
  • Write summaries in your own
  • Rewrite chapter titles, headings, and subheadings so that they’re more meaningful to you.
  • Draw diagrams, pictures, tables, or maps that translate text into visual
  • Number each step in a list or series of related
  • In the margins, write notes about the relationships between elements in your reading. For example, note connections between an idea and examples of that
  • If you infer an answer to a question or come up with another idea of your own, write that down as

Avoid marking up a textbook too soon. Wait until you complete a chapter or section to make sure you know the key points and then mark it up. Sometimes, flagging answers after you read each paragraph works best.

Also remember that the purpose of making marks in a text is to call out important concepts or information that you will review later. Flagging key information can save lots of time when you are studying for tests. With this in mind, highlight or underline sparingly—usually less than 10 percent of the text. If you mark up too much on a page, you defeat the purpose: to flag the most important material for review.

Finally, jot down new questions, and note when you don’t find the answers you are looking for. Ask these questions in class, or see your instructor personally. Demand that your textbooks give you what you want—answers.

  Active Reading Phase 3—After You Read

At the end of Phase 2, your reading is complete, but to get the most out of what you just read, it’s important to complete the final phase of active reading—Phase 3. This phase happens after you read and includes the following steps:

Step 6: Recite. Talk to yourself about what you’ve read. Or talk to someone else. When you finish a reading assignment, make a speech about it. When you recite, you practice an important aspect of metacognition—synthesis, or combining individual ideas and facts into a meaningful whole.

One way to recite is to look at each underlined point. Note what you marked; then, put the book down and start talking out loud. Explain as much as you can about that particular point. To make this technique more effective, do it in front of a mirror. It might seem silly, but the benefits can be enormous. Reap them at exam time.

A related technique is to stop reading periodically and write a short, free-form summary of what you just read. In one study, this informal “retrieval practice” helped students recall information better than other study techniques did (Karpicke and Blunt 2011).

Classmates are even better than mirrors. Form a group to practice teaching one another what you have read. One of the best ways to learn anything is to teach it to someone else. In addition, talk about your reading whenever you can. Tell friends and family members what you’re learning.

Talking about your reading reinforces a valuable skill—the ability to summarize. To practice this skill, pick one chapter (or one section of one chapter) from any of your textbooks. State the main topic covered in the chapter. Then, state the main points that the author makes about the topic.

Step 7: Review. Plan to do your first complete review within 24 hours of reading the material. Sound the trumpets! This point is critical: A review within 24 hours moves information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.

Review within one day. If you read it on Wednesday, review it on Thursday. During this review, look over your notes and clear up anything you don’t understand. Recite some of the main points.

This review can be short. You might spend as little as 15 minutes reviewing a difficult two-hour reading assignment. Investing that time now can save you hours later when studying for exams.

Step 8: Review again. This final step can be very short—perhaps only four or five minutes per assignment. Simply go over your notes. Read the highlighted parts of your text. Recite one or two of the more complicated points.

The purpose of these reviews is to keep the neural pathways to the information open and to make them more distinct. That way, the information can be easier to recall. You can accomplish these short reviews anytime, anywhere, if you are prepared.

Sometimes, longer review periods are appropriate. For example, if you found an assignment difficult, consider rereading it. Start over, as if you had never seen the material before.

Sometimes, a second reading will provide you with surprising insights. Decades ago, psychologists identified the primacy-recency effect, which suggests that we most easily remember the first and last items in any presentation (Pineño and Miller 2005). Previewing and reviewing your reading can put this theory to work for you.

  Dealing With Challenging Texts

Successful readers monitor their understanding of reading material. They do not see confusion as a mistake or a personal shortcoming. Instead, they take it as a cue to change reading strategies and process ideas at a deeper level.

Read it again. Somehow, students get the idea that reading means opening a book and dutifully slogging through the text—line by line, page by page—moving in a straight line from the first word to the last. Feel free to shake up your routine. Make several passes through tough reading material. During a preview, for example, just scan the text to look for key words and highlighted material. Next, skim the entire chapter or article again, spending a little more time and taking in more than you did during your preview. Finally, read in more depth.

Read it out loud. Make noise. Read a passage out loud several times, each time using a different inflection and emphasizing a different part of the sentence. Be creative. Imagine that you are the author talking.

Use another text. Find a similar text in the library. Sometimes a concept is easier to understand if it is expressed another way. Children’s books—especially children’s encyclopedias—can provide useful overviews of baffling subjects.

Talk to someone who can help. Admit when you are stuck. Then, bring questions about reading assignments to classmates and members of your study group. Also, make an appointment with your instructor. Most teachers welcome the opportunity to work individually with students. Be specific about your confusion. Point out the paragraph that you found toughest to understand.

  Reading Faster

One way to read faster is to read faster. This idea might sound like double-talk, but it is a serious suggestion. The fact is, you can probably read faster—without any loss in comprehension— simply by making a conscious effort to do so. Your comprehension might even improve. You might try the following suggestions.

Move your eyes faster. When we read, our eyes leap across the page in short bursts called saccades (pronounced “să-käds”). A saccade is also a sharp jerk on the reins of a horse—a violent pull to stop the animal quickly. Our eyes stop like that, too, in pauses called fixations.

Although we experience the illusion of continuously scanning each line, we actually take in groups of words—usually about three at a time. For more than 90 percent of reading time, our eyes are at a dead stop, in those fixations.

One way to decrease saccades is to follow your finger as you read. The faster your finger moves, the faster your eyes move. You can also use a pen, pencil, or 3 × 5 card as a guide.

Your eyes can move faster if they take in more words with each burst—for example, six instead of three. To practice taking in more words between fixations, find a newspaper with narrow columns. Read down one column at a time, and fixate only once per line.

In addition to using the above techniques, simply make a conscious effort to fixate less. You might feel a little uncomfortable at first. That’s normal. Just practice often, for short periods.

Notice and release ineffective habits. Our eyes make regressions; that is, they back up and reread words. You can reduce regressions by paying attention to them. Use the handy 3 × 5 card to cover words and lines that you have just read. You can then note how often you stop and move the card back to reread the text. Don’t be discouraged if you stop often at first. Being aware of it helps you regress less frequently.

Also notice vocalizing. You are more likely to read faster if you don’t read out loud or move your lips. You can also increase your speed if you don’t subvocalize—that is, if you don’t mentally “hear” the words as you read them. To stop doing it, just be aware of it.

When you first attempt to release these habits, choose simpler reading material. That way, you can pay closer attention to your reading technique. Gradually work your way up to more complex material.

Stay flexible. Remember that speed isn’t everything. Skillful readers vary their reading rate according to their purpose and the nature of the material. An advanced text in analytic geometry usually calls for a different reading rate than the Sunday comics.

You also can use different reading rates on the same material. For example, you might first sprint through an assignment for the key words and ideas, and then return to the difficult parts for a slower and more thorough reading.

Another option is to divide a large reading assignment into smaller sections and use different reading strategies for each one. You might choose to read the first and last sections in detail, for example, and skim the middle sections.

As a general guideline, slow down your reading pace for material that’s technical and unfamiliar to you. Speed up for material that’s familiar, staying alert for anything that seems new or significant.

Also remember that reading faster without comprehension can actually increase the amount of time that you study. Balance the desire for speed with the need for understanding what you read.

Finally, remember the first rule of reading fast: Just do it!

  Building Your Vocabulary

Having a large vocabulary makes reading more enjoyable and increases the range of materials you can explore. In addition, building your vocabulary gives you more options for self-expression when speaking or writing. With a larger vocabulary, you can think more precisely by making finer distinctions between ideas. And you won’t have to stop to search for words at crucial times, such as a job interview.

Strengthen your vocabulary by looking up unfamiliar terms. A desk dictionary is an easy-to- handle abridged dictionary that you can use many times in the course of a day. In contrast, an unabridged dictionary is large and not made for you to carry around. It provides more complete information about words and definitions not included in your desk dictionary as well as synonyms, usage notes, and word histories. Look for unabridged dictionaries in libraries and bookstores.

You might prefer using one of several online dictionaries, such as Dictionary.com. Another common option is to use a search engine such as Google.com. If you do this, inspect the results carefully. They can vary in quality and be less useful than the definitions you’d find in a good dictionary or thesaurus.

Construct a word stack. When you come across an unfamiliar word, write it down on a 3 × 5 card. Below the word, copy the sentence in which it was used, along with the page number. You can look up each word immediately, or you can accumulate a stack of these cards and look up the words later. Write the definition of each word on the back of the 3 × 5 card, adding the diacritics—marks that tell you how to pronounce it.

To expand your vocabulary and learn the history behind the words, take your stack of cards to an unabridged dictionary. As you find related words in the dictionary, add them to your stack. These cards become a portable study aid that you can review in your spare moments.

Learn—even when your dictionary is across town. When you are listening to a lecture and hear an unusual word or when you are reading on the bus and encounter a word you don’t know, you can still build your word stack. Pull out a 3 × 5 card and write down the word and its sentence. Or make a note of the word on your cell phone. Later, you can look up the definition and write it on the back of the card.

Divide words into parts. Another suggestion for building your vocabulary is to divide an unfamiliar word into syllables and look for familiar parts. This strategy works well if you make it a point to learn common prefixes (beginning syllables) and suffixes (ending syllables).

For example, the suffix-tude usually refers to a condition or state of being. Knowing this makes it easier to conclude that habitude refers to a usual way of doing something and that similitude means being similar or having a quality of resemblance.

Infer the meaning of words from their context. You can often deduce the meaning of an unfamiliar word simply by paying attention to its context—the surrounding words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or images. Practice looking for context clues such as these:

  • A key word might be defined right in the text. Look for phrases such as defined as or in other words.
  • Authors often provide examples to clarify a word meaning. If the word is not explicitly defined, then study the examples. They’re often preceded by the phrases for example, for instance, or such as.
  • When a word is listed in a series, pay attention to the other items in the series. They might define the unfamiliar word through association.
  • You might find a new word surrounded by synonyms—words with a similar meaning. Look for synonyms after words such as like and as.
  • A writer might juxtapose a word with its antonym. Look for phrases such as on the contrary and on the other hand.

References

Karpicke, Jeffrey D., and Janell R. Blunt. “Retrieval practice produces more learning than elaborative studying with concept

mapping.” Science. www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2011/01/19/science.1199327.abstract (accessed January 21, 2011).

Pineño, Oskar and Ralph R. Miller. “Primacy and recency effects in extinction and latent inhibition: A selective review with implications for models of learning.” Behavioural Processes 69, 5): 223–235.

 

College Success

Cengage Publishing

 

OpenNow College Success. Authored by Cengage Learning License. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

https://oercommons.s3.amazonaws.com/media/editor/179572/CengageOpenNow_CollegeSuccessNarrative.pdf

Instructions – PLEASE READ THEM CAREFULLY

  • The Assignment must be submitted on Blackboard (WORD format only) via allocated folder.
  • Assignments submitted through email will not be accepted.
  • Students are advised to make their work clear and well presented, marks may be reduced for poor presentation. This includes filling your information on the cover page.
  • Students must mention question number clearly in their answer.
  • Late submission will NOT be accepted.
  • Avoid plagiarism, the work should be in your own words, copying from students or other resources without proper referencing will result in ZERO marks. No exceptions.
  • All answered must be typed using Times New Roman (size 12, double-spaced) No pictures containing text will be accepted and will be considered plagiarism).
  • Submissions without this cover page will NOT be accepted.

 

Leaning Outcomes:

  1. Ability to carry out objective and scientific analysis of consumers’ needs and wants (Lo 2.3)
  2. Ability to collect, evaluate and synthesize consumer’s data to make objective and informed marketing decisions (Lo 2.7)
  3. Ability to deliver and communicate marketing messages in coherent and professional manner (Lo 4.4)

 

Case Study

Read the Chapter Case Study entitled “From the Counterculture to the Runway: How Did Birkenstocks Become Fashionable?” from Chapter- 11 “Product, Branding and Packaging decisions” Page: – 358 given in your textbook – “Marketing” (7th Edition) by Dhruv. Grewal and Michael. Levy (2020) and answer the following Questions:

Assignment Question(s):

  1. Visit the company website (https://www.birkenstockusa.com/) and identify and describe the different product lines that it markets. (1.5 Marks, Minimum 150 Words)
  2. Review the different product categories in each of the company’s product lines. Which has the greatest depth? Which has the least? (1.5 Marks, Minimum 150 Words)
  3. How has the company positioned its brand? How does it go about communicating its position? Explain. (2 Marks, Minimum 250 Words)

Note:  Support your Answers with course material concepts, principles, and theories from the textbook and at least two scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles.

 

 

 

 

Answer:

1.

2.

3.

 

 

 

 

 

FROM THE COUNTERCULTURE TO THE RUNWAY: HOW DID
BIRKENSTOCKS BECOME FASHIONABLE? Hippies wear them. Rebels,
dropouts from conventional consumerism, flower children-all images
traditionally associated with Birkenstocks, the clunky, cork soled sandals
that have been issuing forth from German factories for 240 years.
Although the company has introduced a few variations, such as a clog or
rubberized straps, the look of a Birkenstock is immediately recognizable
and little changed from its humble beginnings. 45
All these features suggest it is a poor candidate as a fashion product.
Rather than changing every season, the footwear has stayed largely the
same. Rather than focusing on the appearance of the offering, the
product design stems solely from considerations of comfort and
orthopedic safety. Furthermore, they continue to be made in relatively
expensive German factories rather than having production shipped
.overseas to lower the costs
Considering these factors, it seems strange that Vogue has called Birks
“sexy” and Glamour named it the shoe of the summer recently.
Explanations for this newfound popularity with fashion’s elite are varied
and unproven. One fashion blogger explained that after years of wearing
only uncomfortable, tight, high-heeled shoes, slipping on a pair of
Birkenstocks was a life changing experiment in comfort, so she could not
imagine going back. Other fashion leaders, including Manolo Blahnikknown for his sky-high heels and creative shoe designs-has offered his
endorsement, asserting that as long as the wearers have nice toes and a
.good pedicure, the sandals can look nice
The approval from these fashion leaders has led more and more famous
people to name drop the brand. In popular magazines that feature
interviews with trendy celebrities like Keke Palmer and Lorraine Pascale,
the Birkenstock name pops up as the shoe of preference on set. 46 The
shift certainly did not result from a conscious effort by Birkenstock
though. Rather, it caught the company somewhat by surprise, because it
had been doing business the same way it had for more than two
centuries. It has a virtually nonexistent marketing budget, does not
advertise widely, and did not pursue the endorsements it has received
from fashion trendsetters. Its CEO asserts that the popularity is a
reaffirmation of a basic, and seemingly outdated, marketing lesson:
Build a great product, and people will seek it out on their own
Still, the company is not immune to the appeal of being known as
fashionable. Accordingly, it is happy to tout its mentions in popular
media on the Birkenstock website. It also has developed a nice collection
of Instagram shots that emphasize its diverse assortment of options.
Along with fashion shots of models wearing its silver sandals with highfashion dresses, it also features hikers in remote locations, sporting its
comfortable looking, well-worn footwear
The combination of great product and strong branding has been highly
effective. Birkenstock’s sales have grown by anywhere from 40 percent
to 50 percent over the past year in different regions of the world, and it
estimates that it will sell 20 million pairs annually by 2020. That’s a lot of
.toes to show

 

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Get professional assignment help cheaply

Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?

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