Teaching Skimming Reading By Using E-book for Senior High School
by Siti Papat Patimah
I.I Background of the Study
Using E-book is one of the easiest and least stress ways of getting started with technology in the class room. The e-book is source of content which can be used as a window on the wider world outside the student’s class, and of course a readily available collection of authentic material. Such as, it is a much large repository of content than would previously have been readily available to the student. Another Advantage of this tool is that the students do not necessarily have to rely on a constant internet connection if their bear in mind that it possible to save local copies of websites on their computer, or print out potentially useful pages for later use.
Skimming a text for gist can help you formulate questions to keep you interacting with the text. Basically, skimming is the most rudimentary form of reading. The object of skim reading is not to necessarily comprehend all that is being read, but rather to familiarize yourself, as quickly as possible, with the text being read. In this regard, skimming materials, by reading the index, subject headings and sub-headings, allows you to prepare yourself so that when the time comes, you can race ahead and speed read at pace as you are already familiar with the text. Consequently, your overall reading speed will be vastly improved.
The government of Indonesia chooses English as one of the compulsory subject in both senior and junior high school. It is obligatory subject for the student to learn from the first year of junior up to senior high school. Moreover, English has been learned not only by university students but also by elementary students. There are four major language skills that the students should master, namely speaking, listening, reading and writing. Reading skill needs to be developed intensively in the classroom because it is a bridge to understand scientific books that the students have to read. Meanwhile, in English classes in SMA, reading is learned in order to get meaning from a lot of reading passages with various genres of text. The second year students are required to master reading texts with five different genres, namely report, narrative, and hortatory exposition.
When student read a text, they sometimes do not know what the text about. They are not able to understand the idea of the selection of the text they have read. The basic course Outline Supplement for the teaching at English of SMU (GBPP) states that aims of reading are to find the idea of the text, to get general figure about the content of the text, to find main ideas, to find supporting details, to make inferences, to interpret word meaning, phrase, and sentences related to the text, to get enjoyment. In other words, when the student read a text, they have to get information or message from the text.
Using E-book is one of the easiest and least stress ways of getting started with technology in the class room. The e-book is source of content which can be used as a window on the wider world outside the student’s class, and of course a readily available collection of authentic material. Such as, it is a much large repository of content than would previously have been readily available to the student. Another Advantage of this tool is that the students do not necessarily have to rely on a constant internet connection if their bear in mind that it possible to save local copies of websites on their computer, or print out potentially useful pages for later use. Indeed, they can use websites in variety of ways:
As Printed pages, with no computer.
With one computer with one an internet connection.
In a computer lab a set of network and connected computers.
There are three basic ways of searching on the e-book:
• Search Engines
• Subject guides
• Real language searches
It is important that both teacher and learners see the use of the e-book as an interim part of the learning process, rather than as occasional activity which has nothing to with their regularly study program. With some learners there may be some resistance to regular computer use in the class room.
Having ascertained responses on why users might use and read an e-textbook, and cognoscente of their preferences for reading the printed text, the study sought to explore further the issues associated with the difficulties participants encountered when using e-textbooks. Three discrete but inter-related fields are discernable: issues associated with the screen display and display aesthetics, issues associated with distraction due to loss of concentration, issues associated with the physiological and ergonomic factors associated with reading from the screen, and the challenges of managing the use of multiple titles concurrently. It is interesting to note throughout these sections, a general agreement with views expressed by librarians on the software interfaces of the collections, and the authors reiterate their comments in that report that the librarians were largely expressing their perceptions of the use by their users (Armstrong & Lonsdale, 2009, 8).
The only reference in a focus group to an e-book reader came from an academic who was involved with developing the e-ink screen technology. Although he could imagine using a reader for leisure reading, he doubted that it was something to be used for academic work because of the screen size. The issue of editions and currency was raised by the librarians spoken to for the Observatory collection management report, which stated that a “significant theme that emerged was the fact that the textbook provided electronically may be an older edition – sometimes older than print editions already in the collection – affecting its perceived value and, thus, its use” (Armstrong & Lonsdale, 2009, 2.5.2). While the issue of editions did not figure greatly in the user discussions, it is worth including a summary of the points made by users. Although the issue of out-of-date e-books also came up regularly in the Observatory Exit Survey, out-of-date library paper-books were mentioned very many more times – something that is also mentioned in the first focus group excerpts below (in Section 3.4).
The combination of these two methods allows you grater comprehension of what you are reading. Having ascertained that skimming will increase out reading speed, we now need to know how to skim read, whilst there are many different methods adopted to skim reading like read the index of a text means note that it is essential that you do this so that you get the general idea of what the next is about.
• Read the introduction paragraph of the text
• Read each heading in the text
• Read each subheading in the text etc.
Skimming is done at a speed three to four times faster than normal reading. People often skim when they have lots of material to read in a limited amount of time. Use skimming when you want to see if an article may be of interest in your research. And skimming is a process of speed reading that involves visually searching the sentences of a page for clues to meaning. For some people, this comes naturally, and usually cannot be acquired by practice. Skimming is usually seen more in adults than in children. It is conducted at a higher rate (700 words per minute and above) than normal reading for comprehension (around 200-230 wpm), and results in lower comprehension rates, especially with information-rich reading material. There are many strategies that can be used when skimming. Some people read the first and last paragraphs using headings, summarizes and other organizers as they move down the page or screen. You might read the title, subtitles, subheading, and illustrations.
Reading lists were mentioned in other institutions as an access route to e-textbooks. The two quotations which follow both additionally highlight access issues to do with library-subscription resources and the use of, and dependence on, them by academics. In one case the problem was to do with concurrent use, and in the other the issue of titles or collections being removed by the publisher or no longer licensed by the library while academic links still existed to them, an issue that was also picked up in the E-book collection management in UK universities: focus groups report (Armstrong & Lonsdale, 2009, 5.5).
Don't read the whole text word-for-word. Use as many clues as possible to give you some background information. There might be pictures or images related to the topic, or an eye-catching title. Let your eyes skim over the surface of the text and, whilst thinking about any clues you have found about the subject, look out for key words.
1. Read the title, subtitles and subheading to find out what the text is
2. Look at the illustrations to give you further information about the topic.
3. Read the first and last sentences of each paragraph.
4. Don’t every word or every sentence. Let you eyes skim over the text.
Taking in keyword.
5. Continue to think about the meaning of the text.
It is clear that multimedia can genuinely add value to an e-textbook that is not possible in paper books. That this has long been understood for some subjects is clear from the enclosed CD-ROMs in numbers of paper textbooks. It is also clear that when e-textbooks are simply facsimiles of the print original, there is little likelihood that this kind of added value will be available. Interactive exercises were discussed as a missed opportunity, for the reason stated above. Where they had been used elsewhere, students found them invaluable.
Although the need for the most recent edition of a textbook may appear to push students towards purchase, there are a variety of other reasons, largely to do with cost, that often militate against purchase. There is a long-standing and fundamental understanding by universities and publishers that students need to buy at least some of their own textbooks. This was emphasised in a recent report, which stated “There remains an expectation at UK universities that students will need to purchase some of their course material, and most prospectuses make mention of this and suggest a notional figure” (Content Complete & OnlyConnect, 2009).
The use of e-books by students for ascertaining facts (as opposed to prolonged reading to increase knowledge) is common. However, the third excerpt demonstrates that in some institutions, at least, students are prepared to read longer pieces. Some students had specific reasons for their decisions to use e-books.
Well, I like e-books more when I’m doing the research, because for my field anyway, most of the books now in print [and in the library?] the topics are kind of limited, but for e-books you find almost everything. (Student)
I use it, well, I’m doing research all the time for the work we have to do, because there is a lot self-directed study. But obviously we are all graduates on this course… We do study sessions [in] problem-based learning (PBL), so we each focus on a specific to research. And also if you want to do background reading for the lectures. But it’s mostly the PBL stuff. (Student)
I would use the e-book, it’s quite good for tutorials, like computer programming. It has a lot descriptions and photos, and you can run it up alongside another window if you are doing the programming… my project on a new computer programming language I’d never done before, so I had to do a lot of background work on it. And so I had some e-books which do tutorials, and then you can have the e-book on half of the screen, and on half have the software you use to write the programme. Then you can run along the steps, and keep track of where you are with it. (Student)
E-books can be useful if you’re researching for an essay and all the print copies are unavailable in the library (Student)
It depends what I’m going to do with the book – if I need a quotation from the book I know electronic is best; but if it’s a book I have to decide if I can read it – if it’s electronic, Yes, I can look through contents, and then I will get paper because I need to read the whole book. (Student)
The ease with which information can be found in e-books, using the search facility, makes them ideal when reference-style queries and the quick extraction of facts are required.
Finding information is much easier with the e-books, mainly because you have a different mode of searching and you’re having to search through the book, so it becomes easier for individual like me to search for some particular keyword and search it through e-books than going through each and every page in a paper-based system. (Student)
But then it’s easier from the electronic version because you can pinpoint, you can search out things very easily. And then actually you can just take a note of those things and just make your own notes with that, so I find it more easy because in the book you have to flip the pages and search across. So that indexing is much better in the electronic version. (Student)
This emphasis on easy access, ease of use and the convenience of having source material in the same place as the assignment is clear.
Again, for the easy access. It’s the ease of accessibility, and also when you are writing up, I think it’s also the ease of navigation, which I think would sort of tip my scales towards the e-book. (Student)
I would say I prefer reading through the electronic versions, reading it through the laptop rather than carrying the physical book with me. Because I’m always on my laptop most of the time. (Student)
Somewhat at odds with statements made by librarians in the E-book collection management in UK universities: focus groups report that in some institutions there is a “discernible and growing demand from academic staff who do contribute directly to the selection process” – a process often begun by the library (Armstrong & Lonsdale, 2009, 2.2.2), the academic focus groups gave the overall impression that academics do not participate actively or systematically in the selection of e-textbooks for the library. Obviously, there are exceptions to this generalisation, but for the most part academics – despite their involvement in the selection of print titles – felt unable to help with e-books, mostly as they did not possess the skills to do so.
In the absence of promotions for, and trials of, new e-textbooks, and the skills to evaluate them, it not surprising that many academics are not more pro-active. Many of the focus group participants did not know how to find out what was available – where to look in order to find new e-books. There is even a hint in the following excerpt that the reading list may be driven by existing library availability, which would possibly tend to preclude the addition of e-books.
As you know, flexibility is one sign of a power reader. Fluent readers are able to adapt their reading skills to meet the demands of the reading task before them, varying rates of speed and levels of comprehension to suit their purpose for reading. Readers often encounter a great deal of material that they would like to cover either because they are interested in a particular topic or simply because they want to stay current in their field or with local, national, and world events. When good readers want to cover large amounts of material quickly, they skim. To skim is pass quickly over material as quickly as you can while getting a general, holistic view of the content.
Skimming is not for situations where a high level of comprehension is required, but is very useful when it may be appropriate to accept a level of comprehension somewhat lower than that obtained at average reading speeds. You should aim for the main idea(s), the outline, the major supporting details, and an idea of the organizational pattern. Previously we have discussed using skimming to preview material prior to a more in-depth reading. Unlike preview skimming, overview skimming is the mode to use when you are not planning to eventually read the entire work. Overview skimming will be your only reading of the selection and is most useful for relatively easy to moderately difficult material. Skimming is most useful for obtaining a surface understanding and is not recommended for in-depth understanding or analysis.
The importance of the catalogue as a means to locating e-books is evident; indeed, the recent survey by Springer reported that in one university “the average number of eBook chapter downloads per month more than doubled after eBook MARC records were loaded into the library catalog.” (Springer, 2008) The report also highlighted the fact that “users begin their search for eBooks at different places depending on the institution” so that while a second institution was also dominated by the OPAC, in a third the various Google options beat the OPAC into second place by a few percentage points.
The institutional variations may be due to a number of reasons, including library training and induction, and the way in which e-books are presented or made available through the library website or the VLE. In one university, for example, it seems that e-books are only listed by collection, so that there would need to be a subsequent search within the collection.
In several focus groups, such was the confusion of some students over the means of access, that they volunteered to demonstrate the process online in order to clarify their responses. In undertaking the demonstration it was clear that they had not been able to distinguish between the various access routes, for example in one institution, describing the OPAC as the web site and MetaLib as a catalogue. Some users prefer access directly through a list of e-book titles provided on the library web pages or portal, and see the catalogue as a way of alerting the uninitiated to the presence of e-books alongside books.
A key objective of the study was to investigate the ways in which users interrogate e-textbooks in order to locate specific content. The behaviour of academic staff and students in establishing access strategies and using search facilities and tables of contents constituted the major focus. Abdullah and Gibb (2009) have compared back-of-book indexes, tables of contents and search, and conclude that the first is more efficient compared to tables of contents and full-text searching for finding information in e-books, but that there was insufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that it is more effective.
Although back-of-book indexes were scarcely mentioned in the focus groups, their paper makes the important point, of which there is an echo below, that the index is important because it directly identifies and groups together scattered topics in the document, organises the information into an alphabetic structure, and “distinguishes important topics from random occurrences of information,” which a search facility is unable to do.
For most people the decision on how to locate something in an e-book is inextricably bound up with the nature of that something. It is clear that there are those who will always use the table of contents or will always use the search facility, but the message most often repeated was that it depends on what information you need. The perception that whole e-books could not be searched as they were delivered to the workstation on a page-by-page basis resulted in access via the table of contents for one academic and one student (different institutions).
Reviewing all of the focus group transcriptions provides an approximate quantitative analysis. Tables of contents and searching are used equally as a means of access to e-textbook content; only about half of those using the table of contents used the facility to expand chapter headings to subsections, and very few users of the search facility, apparently felt the need to use advanced searching techniques. Two academics and two students spoke of using the back-of-book index, and as few respondents relied on browsing.
Despite the comments above from the academics who use the e-book in the same way as any paper-based book, one paper-based approach, browsing, is not normally perceived as being as easy as with print-on-paper, although in some instances it will work for a particular task. Despite quite elaborate search features which are built into the e-book platforms – usually including the possibility of advanced searching, there remain – as was demonstrated in the Super Book pilot – a few students who either do not notice it, or are so programmed into using browser or PDF-reader ‘Control-F’ searching that they do not see it. While this probably works for them most of the time, it raises the possibility of searches which either produce too many hits or none because the searching has not be undertaken appropriately.
One response to searching – whether simple or advanced – was that it offers an access to the content for which the book and its content was not designed. Textbooks are designed to be read rather than used as a reference tool, and there is an inherent danger in extracting information without the chapter context: Within the literature on defining the purpose of the e-book, there is the implicit belief that e-books are designed to be read on screen (Armstrong, 2008), although anecdotal evidence does suggest that this is frequently not the case, and that users will transfer text to other sources for reading.
Reading on the screen is largely associated with accessing short pieces of text, or for checking details rather than for reading extended textual content. Occasionally it may be associated with scrutinizing an e-textbook, for example when a lecturer is making a decision whether or not to recommend the work to a student: There was little evidence of downloading of sections or whole e-textbooks. Several major reasons were identified, first, the need to download only the more complex illustrative material. Another motive, similar to that associated with the value of printing out, is the ability to highlight/make notes on the electronic copy. Once again, there is a view being imparted that the e-textbook titles which academics and students have used did not permit electronic note taking, although this facility is becoming increasingly common in e-books:
Research undertaken in 1998 identified twelve specific types of added value found in e-books, including: resource links; links to reviews; author biographies; and links to curricula, professors’ or other educational sites (Armstrong and Lonsdale, 1998, p.35). More recent research in the academic sector has emphasised the potential of e-books to offer educational institutions added value such as additional exercises, demonstrations, assessment materials (Education for Change Ltd et al, 2003, p.48), and the great value of these texts as instruments for research and reference. The study investigated the perceptions of the participants as to the perceived value of the various software features that are available in e-textbook platforms.
At the end of the sequence of questions in the focus group interview schedule, we offered participants the opportunity to reflect on the deliberations, and to contribute their ideas and suggestions on ways of enhancing their experience of using e-textbooks. There was a considerable discussion on this question, and responses can be grouped into the following sections:
• issues associated with the content of the e-textbook, it’s interface and design,
• the critical mass of published titles,
• promotion and marketing, and
• The training needs of students and academic staff.
Implicit in the responses of participants are matters that do require the attention of the various stakeholders: e-publishers and aggregators, libraries, academic departments, and the JISC, and recommendations pertaining to these matters are offered in the Conclusion to the report.
Certainly, the value of audio content was also implicit in some of the responses discussed earlier regarding the significance of multimedia content. Whilst the construct of a spoken audio e-textbook may not be viable or even desirable, the following observations offer insights into how some students wish to enhance their time reading, and perhaps afford publishers an opportunity to reflect of the issue.
Students understood the value of citation assistance, but frequently found it was the wrong kind of assistance, either failing to match the institutional citation style or expecting cut-and-paste rather than export to commonly-available bibliographic software. Although a few participants liked the note-taking facility, most did not, or at least did not use it. Some academics were more direct in their condemnation of the systems, on the basis of encouraging poor research skills and plagiarism, and because of system risks associated with scattered notes, convenience and need.
The use of the e-textbooks is primarily related to needs for brief information and quick fact extraction, and there is a clear suggestion that e-textbooks are not being used for extended reading. Consequently the e-textbook is usually preferred to the printed textbook only when it is to be used for short periods of time. High value is placed on the interactive features of e-textbooks, and also on the facility to search for information.
E-book is still perceived as the preferred format for extended reading for several reasons including:
o the powerful attraction of the innate familiarity and of the physical entity that is the e-book;
o it facilitates greater concentration;
o it is more conducive than the e-textbook to certain forms of reading such as scanning; and
o the printed page is also seen to be more conducive to note making, annotation and highlighting.
Although some participants indicated their preference for using multiple printed textbooks, many academics and students were able to accommodate this task with e-textbooks only. This was normally undertaken using multiple browser tabs, although it was acknowledged that multiple screens make the task even easier.
Both students and academics accessed content in e-textbooks using search and tables of contents about equally. Advanced searching and the expanding of the table of contents were almost never used. Simple search (as it is currently implemented) is not an appropriate tool for access because of the tendency to provide much chaff with the wheat. One academic proposed an important hypothesis that using the search facility in a textbook is equivalent to using that textbook as a reference work / encyclopaedia, which is inappropriate use as textbooks are not written as encyclopaedia; they are written to be read rather than mined for facts.
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