Practice Active Reading


As you can see from reading about the SQ3R approach to active reading described above, reading for college is not a passive activity. Important facts, information, and concepts will not just jump off the page and into your brain for instant recollection. In order to comprehend and retain the material you read, look for the intent and the meanings behind the words.

Active reading involves specific critical thinking skills that help you examine meaning and put concepts into context. In essence, you engage in an internal interview with yourself about the material. 

Activity 5: Practicing Active Reading

Here is a passage on the history of Penn State taken from "The Penn State Experience: A freshman guide to life outside the classroom" (Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1999). Read the passage using the Active Reading skills you have learned in this tutorial, then take the quiz to see how you did.

In 1855, the Pennsylvania legislature chartered the Farmer's High School. At the first trustees' meeting, the main order of business was obtaining a location for the school. The board considered proposals from five people who were willing to provide 200 or more acres of land.

Among the offers was that of General James Irvin of Bellefonte, who could provide a 200-acre tract of land from his large holdings. All five locations were visited, and the committee ultimately accepted Irvin's offer after local citizens sweetened the deal pledging an additional $10,000 for the school.

An architect was hired to design the main building, a five-story stone structure composed of three wings, with rooms for up to 400 students, faculty living quarters and classrooms. With $100,000 from various sources, construction began. Tuition and room and board charges were fixed at $100 per year, and on February 16, 1859, 69 students arrived to begin their studies. The school's address was simply, "Farm School."

In 1887, the first student newspaper was published. "Free Lance" was a monthly publication and sold for 15 cents. In 1941, the Nittany Lion Shrine was commissioned with the 1940 Class Gift. Heinz Warnake was selected to sculpt the Lion, and he worked on campus in full view of the students. It was completed in four months, carved from a thirteen-ton block of limestone. In the 1980s, a cast of the lion was made and stored in an undisclosed location after part of an ear was broken off.

In 1947, Henry Varnum Poor finished the first of Old Main's frescoes, depicting the signing of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862 that paved the way for Penn State's land grant mission of outreach to the citizens of Pennsylvania.

In 1982, Penn State won its first NCAA football championship and a second in 1986 to celebrate its 100th anniversary in the sport. Penn State joined the Big Ten Conference in 1992 in all sports and to facilitate academic progress among the Big Ten institutions.

In 1997, Penn State reorganized its Commonwealth Educational System. In its place, it established a "Commonwealth College" with 14 campuses and allowed the formation of three additional colleges: Berks-Lehigh Valley College, Abington College and Altoona College. These new academic colleges can establish a limited number of four-year baccalaureate programs that will benefit their communities.

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