Follow Up 3: Jumping the hurdles, glimpsing the light at the end of the page !
Following my last posts and updates, I have started the dreaded task of ‘Reading for the Dissertation’.
Having a huge number of articles to read from has, and is a daunting task for me. Even though I have been improving my technique with the plethora of assignments the last 4 weeks were littered with, just the thought of reading at least a minimum of 30 articles/journals alongside other still worries me.
This update will illustrate my findings from the last 4 weeks as well as my progress on dissertational reading. Emphasising some effective techniques that I have instilled include ‘Guide: Green Pointer’, ‘Reading in smaller chunks’, ‘Supporting reading with key note taking’ as well as the ‘10 Second Gap between pages’(Allowing all the read information to sink in as well as giving a small breaking between sections).
Following the practice and use of these key techniques over the last few months, I feel I read significantly faster. This progress however was riddled with issues I have highlighted in my previous posts, the prominent of which was comprehension.
“HOW MUCH OF THE TEXT DID I UNDERSTAND AND RETAIN ! ”
This was one of my biggest areas of concern as it is vital to be able to read fast as well as understand the text enough to make a good stab at explaining about it correctly. Adding to this was the task of E-Reading. Having to read numerous journals online is an issue, as I found that I lost focus very easily whilst reading electronic material compared to using hard copy. Specifically for the electronic copy I have resorted to changing background colours to help reading, highlighting a paragraph at a time to read to avoid being overwhelmed as well as concentrate on the text, and finally using an electronic pointer.
As always I have focused on the use of instrumental music, in specific music by “Ludovico einaudi” really helps to maintain focus and elevate the effects of extended sub-vocalisation, which I have noticed I tend to do at times, when I’m tired or have been working/reading for some time. The other tools in my arsenal have included occasional use of ‘Spreeder’. However seeing that the music seems to work better I have reduced its use.
A key area that I have tried to work on over the weeks is “Peripheral Vision”. Improving in this particular area poses great benefits as using peripheral vision to the fullest would mean faster reading, which has proved useful when searching for journals and quick reading the abstracts to see how good they are. Considering I am having to reading at the very least 30 abstracts for the assignments I have had to write, the numbers for a 15,000 word dissertation would be prominently higher. Thus I extended using an online tool called “Shultz tables” to improve my peripheral vision, as it provides exercises.
Thus to summarise, my experiences can be characterised into effective and ineffective segments, some work and some don’t. It is the effective ones I will thoroughly pursue to develop and implement to establish this invaluable skill to speed read. I know that the techniques are numerous so we can choose what fits us. Hence the techniques that didn't work for me might work for others, moreover, they might work for me sometime in the future, who knows!
In the interim, I have found my own approach to reading effectively with the help from the Speedy Reading workshop. I hope to thoroughly develop these and continually improve my speedy reading ability, by making some of these a daily practice (using guides, focus key words, no back-skipping, and review after reading)
Hence current dissertation reading strategy, especially for the journals and articles, I follow a framework as shown below.
1. Analyse the title to pick out key words and consider the subject of the paper, as well as what it is going to say. “Set a frame of mind for the topic”
2. Read the abstract/introduction and conclusion first. Underline the key words. At this stage, I can grasp the whole structure of the article, therefore having a clear guideline for reading the whole paper. “Critique article with an overview”
3. Reading the subtitle, to find my reading target, or what I am expecting from reading this article. With a clear goal, concentration and effectiveness will guide me to read with efficiency. “Find out what I need the most from the paper”
4. Make a few notes if necessary. “Support reading and comprehension at each stage”
5. After reading the whole article, ask myself what did I get from it, does it meet my expectation, which part should be useful for my study, etc. “Question understanding to analyse how effectively you have read!”
6. Give a brief summary of this article: citation information, key summary of this article, and categorize it into different subject (e.g. this paper is about leadership, I will market it and add it into the leadership category list, which is easy to find it and useful for collecting resources for a specific area study in the future). “Summarise”
Finally, I believe “Speedy Reading” is not only a useful tool for academia, but a tool with a substantial impact on life itself, particularly in the years to come that will see a new job as well as substantially higher corporate responsibility. Therefore continuous improvement is of highest priority to continue improving my reading skills, with my long term goal to include practicing once or twice a day. All in all why wouldn't I?, I'm sure to achieve improvements, although not as dramatic as how they have been so far, but an improvement nonetheless. It was a journey in the unknown before the workshop but now I have the feeling I travel not alone and have the means to tackle the issues.
"These learning skills from the workshop are just the “STARTER”, practice is the “MAIN COURSE” and only if you can complete those two can you have the “DESERT”, the uplifting results of your hard work. ”
To me this is not the end, but the beginning of honing my reading skills with continuous leaning practice to develop myself, truly for the better. Although this will be my last blog post for this workshop, I will keep you up to date on my progress through my other blogs and hopefully if I’m allowed access to Warwick blogs after graduation too. A sincere thank you to you Han-Na for the workshop, an priceless opportunity to be missed, something I was lucky to attend during my year at Warwick.