Reading at Erikson: The readings are the assignment!
Understanding the importance of reading assignments while a student at Erikson is a key to your success. Though there is nothing to “turn in” to the instructor, reading everything that is assigned for the week is essential to your ability to understand the content that will be discussed in class and to writing a clear, coherent, and comprehensive paper. Your goal is to be a successful learner. Reading the assigned material is an important and necessary step to reaching this goal.
Once you have gained access to your course syllabus, it is time to get ready to read! After purchasing the required reading materials for the course, you will need to decide how you will read the assigned readings for each week. Erikson students typically choose between printing articles for the semester or saving articles to their computers. Consider your preference for reading and understanding materials. If you are able to read easily on digital devices, saving articles may be a good option. If you prefer to hold the reading in your hand, printing may be the better choice for you.
Whichever method you choose, it is highly recommended that you gather all the readings for the semester and have them ready before the course starts. Organization of your reading materials is a critical first step in getting ready to read and setting yourself up for success during the semester. Many students organize their readings by each week and create a system using digital folders or binders with tabs to easily access readings throughout the semester.
The Study Strategies page provides for additional information creating schedules and time management to help you prepare for reading.
See the handout on the left for additional ideas on how you can prepare yourself before reading.
Why are you sitting down to read this reading? Weekly readings are required for a course; readings may be referred to in class discussions, and they provide necessary information that you will need to fully understand your instructor’s presentation. Use weekly readings to develop your understanding of main ideas and to identify any questions that might be addressed in class.
Many of the assigned readings will be used (and cited) as sources of information in your written assignments. In addition to reading in order to understand main ideas during your weekly classes, you will need to make note of relevant concepts that you may need to easily reference when you write your paper. It is important to develop a note-taking system that works for you—one that allows you to have a shorthand version, cheat sheet, or cover letter that accompanies each reading, so that when it comes time to write your paper, you do not have to go back into the article. Rather, your notes should provide you with easy access to key concepts from the many theorists you will encounter in your graduate studies.
Some readings require a different approach. For instance, a research article may not require as in-depth of reading as a theoretical article. Skimming the research article and focusing on the methods and results sections may be appropriate for this type of reading assignment.
The next two sections share information about reading to understand and reading to inform your writing. Both areas are necessary for being a successful student in graduate school.
There is nothing worse than having to go back through every single reading when it is time to write your paper. Save time by having the assignment instructions handy as you read. If you know what the assignment is asking for, you will be able to make note of the important content as you read. Put a star or a note next to content that you will use in your papers. Better yet, create active reading notes that function as a “cheat sheet” for your reading. Include the author’s thesis, key concepts, and paraphrase the contribution the author makes to the field.
For more tips on how to understand your writing assignments, see Comprehending Assignment.
Make a list of terms you want to become more familiar with. If creating a glossary of key terms from the reading, be sure to include the page number for easy access when referring back to the key term.
In your own words, summarize the main ideas you are reading about to ensure that you understand the content. Write definitions for key concepts. Note how this reading contributes to the question(s) you are being asked in your assignment. Further, consider the larger implications this material has on the ideas in your field.
Create a system for yourself to track the different ideas and concepts you might use for your assignments. One idea includes engaging in active reading while working on an assignment. Part of creating active reading notes includes summarizing key concepts and ideas in your own words, or paraphrasing. The more you practice paraphrasing course content and concepts before you sit down to write your paper, the easier it will be to share your thinking and ideas in your assignments. Paraphrasing is an essential part of the learning process, and it is a key skill to helping you understand the concepts. Additionally, be sure to create a document to keep track of your sources or quotations (along with page numbers!) to use later in your writing assignments.
See the link on the left for some tips about connecting concepts to professional practice.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for engaging in class discussions: