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Reading to learn / reading to do

The concepts of 'reading to learn' and 'reading to do' were first researched by Professor Pat Wright. They were later extended by Ginny Redish to include "reading to learn to do". These powerful concepts have become useful in many contexts, for example when teaching purposeful reading.

Sticht, T. G. (2002) "Teaching reading with adults" National Adult Literacy Database, Canada
"In writing, the person "extracts" knowledge from the brain and "collects" (stores) it in graphic displays. Then, through the practice of the skill of reading, the collected knowledge is extracted by the person from the graphic display and reconstructed in the brain...

In reading-to-do, the permanence of the material permits the reader to consult it while performing a task. For instance, in filling-out a parts form in an automotive supply store, the part number can be looked-up, held in working memory just long enough to do the task of completing that part of the form, and it can then be forgotten. Because the parts catalog serves as a graphic "memory" device for storing information, the part number can be looked-up again when needed. There is no need for the clerk to memorize or otherwise learn the numbers of the parts in the store.

In reading-to-learn, much of what is taught as "study skills," or "learning strategies" reflects the property of the permanence of graphic displays and their ability to be studied at length and repeatedly read to extract the information collected in the display(s) and to relate it to prior knowledge. "

Build on what they know / "if" before "then"

Steehouder, M. F. and Jansen, C. J. M. (1996) "The Sequential Order of Instructions: Impact on Text Quality" in Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Conference of the Society for Technical Communication

"In written instructions, the sequential order of procedural steps is crucial for effective and efficient performance. ...

  • First things first: put instructions in an order that prevents users from neglecting important steps.
  • Minimize cognitive load: put instructions in an order that allows readers to forget what they read.
  • Save time and effort: put instructions in an order that “on average” requires as little time as possible of the readers. "