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Learn how to ask questions about a text before, during, and after reading to improve your understanding of the text. Topics covered include using questioning to examine your purpose, expectations, attitude, and understanding of the topic; writing guide questions; using questioning to monitor your understanding as you read; and using questioning to evaluate what you’ve read.

Video Transcript
Video Reference Guide

0:00 Owl: Welcome to How to Use Questioning to Improve Reading Comprehension, an instructional video on reading comprehension brought to you by the Excelsior University Online Writing Lab.
0:23 Hold on there!
Displayed on screen Student: Huh? What’s the problem?
0:28 Owl: That’s a good question!
0:30 Before you read that book, let’s talk about Questioning.
0:34 Questioning is a skill that readers use before, during, and after they read.
0:40 There are different reasons for asking questions before, during, and after reading.
0:46 For instance, you might ask questions
0:49 to be clear about what you know or want to know,
0:53 to clarify the meaning of what you are reading,
0:56 to speculate about the text,
0:59 to focus on a particular part or idea in the text,
1:03 to locate an answer to a specific question,
1:06 or, to reflect on what you’ve read.
1:11 Let’s talk about some different kinds of questions you should ask yourself before reading.
1:16 Later, we’ll talk about asking questions during and after reading, too.
Displayed on screen Student: OK. I’m interested. Tell me more!
1:22 Owl: One important question to ask yourself before reading has to do with your purpose.
1:27 Ask yourself: What is my purpose for reading?
1:30 Your purpose will change how you go about reading the text.
1:35 For instance, if you are preparing for a multiple-choice test, your goal might be to identify important facts to memorize.
1:44 However, if you are writing a research paper, your goal might be to highlight important sections to quote or paraphrase.
1:53 On the other hand, if you are preparing for a discussion, your goal might be to make a note of important thoughts and questions that come up as you read.
2:03 Being aware of your purpose for reading will help you to make the best use of your time and effort.
2:09 Next, ask yourself: What do I predict the text will be about?
2:13 This helps you identify your expectations and preconceptions about the text.
2:19 Some other questions to ask yourself before reading have to do with your attitude toward the topic.
2:25 For instance, ask yourself…
2:27 How do I feel about the topic?
2:29 What biases might I have about the topic because of my feelings towards it?
2:35 Think about a time when your pre-conception about something turned out not to be accurate.
2:40 Before reading, you should also ask yourself what you know about the topic.
2:46 What do I already know or think I know about the topic?
2:50 What do I need to know about the topic?
2:53 What do I want to know about the topic?
2:56 and
2:57 What do I predict the text will tell me about the topic?
3:02 If you’ve already previewed the text, you should also ask yourself the following questions about it in order to prepare yourself to read it:
3:10 What do the title or section headings reveal about the text’s topic or argument?
3:15 What sections seem familiar?
3:19 What sections seem difficult or unfamiliar?
3:24 Does the text contain any special features that highlight important ideas, such as bold-faced terms, or visual aids?
3:31 Does the text include a summary, abstract, outline, or list of objectives that can help you identify and remember key ideas?
3:41 Does the text provide discussion questions to help you focus your attention as you read?
3:47 Finally, you should also use what you learned from previewing the text to write guide questions in the margins.
3:53 Guide questions help you improve your reading comprehension by focusing your attention on the most important information you need to gather.
4:01 For instance, if a chapter title is called “Ten Principles of Effective Leadership,” you might write down the following question in the margin:
4:10 “What are the ten principles of effective leadership?”
4:14 Then, when you go on to read the chapter, try to answer the question by identifying each of the ten principles.
4:22 Questioning is also something you do while you read.
4:25 By asking questions about what you are reading as you read, you can monitor your comprehension of the text and clarify meaning.
4:33 If it turns out you didn’t understand something, you can go back and read it again with your questions in mind.
4:39 You can construct your questions using one of these six basic question types: who, what, when, where, why, or how.
4:56 For instance, you might ask:
4:59 What does the author mean by _____?
5:03 or
5:04 How does this relate to _____?
5:07 or
5:08 Why is this _____?
5:12 Making statements such as
5:14 I don’t understand _____?
5:16 or
5:17 I was confused by _____.
5:20 can also help you to monitor your comprehension and clarify meaning.
5:25 You can jot down your questions and statements in the margins and come back to them later.
5:31 I’ll cover more about questioning while you read in the video on Annotating.
5:38 Finally, questioning is also something you do after reading.
5:44 The point of questioning after you read is to reflect upon and evaluate what you’ve read.
5:50 Ask yourself:
5:51 What did I learn?
5:54 Is there anything that was unclear?
5:56 If so, write down some guide questions and go back and reread difficult passages with these questions in mind.
6:05 Did I find what I needed?
6:06 If not, what else do I need to know?
6:10 Did I find the author’s style persuasive?
6:13 Why or why not?
6:17 Do I agree with what I read?
6:19 Why or why not?
6:23 How does what I read compare to other things I’ve read on this topic?
6:28 What ideas stuck with me?
6:31 Which ones do I want to investigate more?
6:35 We’ll cover more about evaluating a text in videos on Analyzing and Synthesizing what you’ve read.
Displayed on screen Student: Wow, I can really see how questioning before, during, and after reading can help me become a stronger reader. Thank you!
6:47 Owl: You’re welcome!
6:50 Thanks for listening to this instructional video on How to Use Questioning to Improve Reading Comprehension!
6:57 Visit the Excelsior University Online Writing Lab for more support with reading and writing skills.

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The following text was sampled in this video:

OpenStax College, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax College. 25 April 2013. <>.