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Academic Success Center

Reading for Grad School

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. 

Getting Ready to Read

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 below for additional ideas on how you can prepare yourself before reading. 

Consider your purpose for 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. 

Reading to Understand

Inforgraphic on what "reading to understand" means

Connecting Concepts to Practice

In addition to using the information from your course readings within your papers, you are expected to begin connecting these concepts to practice through in-class participation and in real world situations. A percentage of your grade for each class includes in-class participation, which includes more than staying awake and listening to your instructor. Engaging in class discussions allows you the opportunity to confirm your understanding of the reading assignments and to ask questions about concepts you did not understand. Extending your understanding of course material to real world situations supports your learning and enables you to apply concepts and theories to your practice with children and families.  

See the link on the left for some tips about connecting concepts to professional practice.


Engaging in class discussions 

Here are some tips to help you prepare for engaging in class discussions: 

  • Be sure to complete your weekly readings. You will have a more difficult time effectively engaging in class discussions if you do not have content to reference.  
  • After completing the readings and before class, consider what you agree and disagree with the author about. What are some ideas you found interesting from the articles and why? Do see any connections to others readings or ideas from previous weeks?  
  • Come prepared with questions from the weekly reading to ask in class. Think about what you did not understand from the reading and be prepared to ask about it. The instructor may clarify your questions during the lecture, but it is good to be prepared to ask for additional information if you are still unsure. 
    • If you engage in taking active reading notes, you will have some of these questions and ideas gathered already.  
  • If possible, have conversations with your peers about the readings before class. This can be a helpful way to practice discussing articles with others before entering the classroom, especially if you are shy or nervous about speaking up.  
  • Remember: the goal of in class discussion is not to demonstrate to your instructor or peers how much you know, but to gather more information about the readings and to ask critical questions.  
  • Also, remember to take good notes during in class discussions. There may be information that is not included in the lecture notes that is raised during a discussion that is useful for your assignments or that can help you connect information together.