Questions for critical reading

One component (and a major one) of reading a text intensively is being able to question it, by looking at the content, but also the background information involved in shaping its content. Throughout the ARC roles, readers are guided through ways in which to do so, along with building information literacy, academic literacy, and comprehension co-construction. For example:

  1. Leader = in dividing the text into topical sections, Leaders differentiate between main and supporting points, which contribute to summarising skills, particularly with regard to the overall point (i.e. argument) of a particular text. Additionally, Leaders look at the G/A/P of a text i.e. genre, audience, and purpose, in order to negotiate these with their group members during group work component of an ARC cycle.
  2. Visualiser = by sourcing or creating visual representations of a challenging text concept, Visualisers need to question their understanding of a particular concept and consider how that can be translated into a graphical image. This requires Visualisers to interrogate a particular author meaning or intention regarding that specific area of a text.
  3. Contextualiser = in order to research a useful contextual reference than an author has mentioned, Contextualisers first need to be able to question why the author has referenced it and why the author has not expanded further about it, as well as how that reference is used to support a point being made.
  4. Connector = one type of connection to make is synthesising ideas from multiple sources and explaining how the ideas are related to each other. This requires Connectors to question how two authors agree/disagree/compare/contrast with each other.
  5. Highlighters = an area of lexical focus is author tone. Recognising when an author makes positive and negative commentary about a particular topic raises the Highlighter’s critical awareness of author tone through language.

Supplemental critical questions

While each role encourages learners to practise critical reading skills, as teachers, extra resources are always welcome. For one, check out UEfAP’s set of critical questions to ask while reading texts. They categorise different types of questions readers can ask while reading into four ways:

  • Purpose and background
  • The author and the text
  • Evidence used
  • Assumptions made

UEfAP’s questions are standard and nicely laid together in one spot. They may provide learners with a clear base to consider along with similar tasks within each of their ARC roles.

The example text that follows uses annotations that focus only on noting positive/negative commentary from the author about the topic and the first exercise limits students to practising only this as well (the second exercise seems only to include a sample text), but answers are included and definitely can be a nice supplement, particularly to the Highlighter role.

Beyond this, other areas of the “Reading” section on its sidebar menu, the site provides some comprehensive description and advice that could be helpful in supplementing ARC roles, such as types of structure (e.g. see Understanding your Reading > Structure / Meaning for samples of narrative, classification, description, etc.) and ways of refering to outside sources in texts (e.g. see Understanding your Reading > References).

For more information on ARC roles, including their rationale, their specific duties, how they combine together for strong comprehension of texts, and examples of ways to use them with a text, please check out Academic Reading Circles.

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