Monday, October 24, 2011

Reading Speeds

Question: What are the various speeds in reading and what are they for?

Answer/Quote: “Actually, when I say skimming, I mean skipping—just passing over whole paragraphs. Skimming is reading quickly, about 450 words a minute for a proficient reader; scanning—the way we read dictionaries or telephone directories—is done at about 600 words a minute. These are the first two reading levels of the five hypothesized by Ronald P. Carver, a professor of educational psychology. The middle level, which Mr. Carver called "rauding," is the level at which we read literary fiction, or letters or long magazine stories. To oversimplify his theory, when we raud we are not only reading every word but comprehending their meaning in the context of sentences and paragraphs. (Mr. Carver's other two levels are reading to learn—studying—at about 200 words a minute and reading to memorize, 138 words a minute.)”

Comment: My definition of skimming is spinning through dictionaries or telephone directories. My definition of scanning is reading the title, first sentences of paragraphs and last paragraph in order to raise questions to answer when reading a textbook chapter. Mr. Carver’s definition of “raiding” sounds like Sir Francis Bacon’s “…others to be swallowed…that is…to be read, but not curiously” [“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested”]. That means to me detective fiction, Westerns and “Chick Lit.” RayS.

Title: “Skimming Vs. Reading.” Cynthia Crossen. Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2011. Internet Version.

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