Unit 1 Academic Skills Introduction

9 Academic Reading Skills

Academic reading involves engaging with a text, thinking critically, and synthesizing information. In this course you will read several articles to develop a basic understanding of the concepts and issues related to a theme.

Characteristics of a critical readeropen book

Developing your critical reading skills—the ability to engage with and question a text—is an important part of reading for academic purposes. A critical reader:

  1. Asks questions about ideas in the text as they read.
  2. Notices the tone of the text they are reading.
  3. Looks for connections between different texts.
  4. Draws connections between what they already know with what they are reading.
  5. Reflects on what they have read.
  6. Uses web-based tools (e.g. translators, AI-based summarizing and paraphrasing tools) judiciously to support understanding — to support the skills of reading, absorbing, synthesizing, and evaluating — not to replace the act of reading.

Exploratory Reading Techniques

Skim the article.

    1. Read the title, subtitles, and any charts or graphs. Pay attention to visual aids.
    2. Read the first and last paragraphs.
    3. Try to understand the article in a general way.
    4. Then read the entire article.

 Identify ideas that interest you.

    1. Highlight ideas that catch your interest.
    2. Highlight ideas that relate to your experiences.
    3. Highlight ideas that relate to your existing knowledge or connect to ideas you are familiar with.

Make annotations in the margins.

    1. Write questions you have about the content.
    2. Write comments, including reactions to ideas you read.

Use web-based tools effectively.

Resource: See the UW’s Library Research Guide on Generative AI for more information.

    1. If you use Google Translate (or another translation tool) to read a text, you must ALSO read the text in English.
    2. When reading with a translator, record important, key words in an online vocabulary notebook or app to expand your vocabulary.
    3. Use AI (e.g. ChatGPT) to engage with a text, by asking clarification questions or asking for examples.
      1. Develop a “bank” of prompts. Many students ask AI to explain information to them at a lower level than where they are academically to more easily grasp a concept. For this reason, you might ask AI to explain something to you “at a 12th grade level” (or even lower!). Some examples include:
        1. Give me an example of X …
        2. Explain the concept of X at a 10th grade level.
        3. Tell me this historical significance of X event in 5 sentences.
      2. Use AI wisely; AI has been known to “hallucinate” (make stuff up!) so use it for general understanding and be wary of using such information in your work.
    4. What other suggestions do you have? Share them with your classmates.


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