By the end of this you will be able to:
- explain what scanning is
- explain the principles of scanning
- scan given passages
- state clearly the advantages of scanning.
What is Scanning?
Scanning refers to taking a close examination of a text or scrutinizing a text for a piece of specific information. It is a technique often used to rapidly cover a great deal of material, in order to locate a specific fact or some information.
When you scan a passage (text), your aim is not to understand the sentences; you only want to find some information.’ In other words, you look at a text quickly without careful or critical reading. The objective therefore is not to understand the whole passage.’ Scanning is used when you first find a resource to determine whether it will answer your questions. Once you have scanned the document, you might go back and skim it.
When you scan, you must begin with a specific question which has a specific answer.
Unlike skimming, in scanning, you look only for a specific fact or piece of information without reading everything. When you look for a programme in a show that is listed in a television guide you scan. Other instances of scanning include looking for your friend’s phone number in a telephone book or looking for the league scores of football in a newspaper or magazine.
For scanning to be successful, you need to understand how your material is structured as well as comprehend what you read so you can locate the specific information you need.
Types of materials appropriate for scanning
There are types of materials appropriate for scanning. These include the following:
- Simple: lists, dictionaries, tables, signs, classified ads
- Less simple: reference works, tables of contents, indices (indexes), web pages
- Complex: continuous prose – documents, articles, books, long descriptions
Why Do We Scan?
- In simple material: to find particular names, facts, words, numbers, and specific information
- In less simple material: to find services, data, resources, when exact wording is not available
- In complex material: to visualize and follow an argument, style, reasons, motifs, patterns, support for inference, evidence of sound logic/ reasoning, evidence of faulty reasoning, propaganda, and/or bias
- On the web: Scanning is a method often employed to sift through the excess of information available on the web.
When and how is scanning useful as a study reading strategy for college students?
Scanning involves moving your eyes quickly down the page, seeking specific words and phrases. As a student, you will find scanning to be a valuable skill for locating information in reference materials.
Scanning is also a fast and efficient way to locate or review material in your textbooks. Scanning enables you to locate the section you need quickly so that you may spend your time re-reading the relevant material more carefully.
When students face a new text they tend to read word by word. This way of reading affects the general understanding of the passage, and the time taken to finish the reading can be too long for the final results. The students can end up reading every word very well, but in the long run the idea of what they have read is lost. To avoid this loss of time and effort a reader can use scanning to help. This type of scanning has to do with running your eyes down the text, searching for important or key words, as well as the most outstanding facts. Scanning can be a preliminary step in reading because, with it you can locate new terms, look up items in a dictionary or a glossary and save time when you actually begin to read. This type of scanning should not take more than a couple of minutes. After that you must decide which terms are the most important and which part of the reading deserves more attention. Do not forget that this is only a comprehension technique designed to help you get into the reading. In order to interpret the author’s intentions and ideas, it is important to read the whole text, and then your analysis of it must be done with more attention to detail.
How To Scan – The Principles
Every day we scan many different types of materials. For this reason it will not be difficult learning more details about scanning. It is essential that before you start scanning, you do the following:
- establish your purpose,
- locate the appropriate material, and ignore all others iii. be very fast
- know how the information is structured.
- when you find the sentence that has the information you seek, read the entire sentence.
When scanning, look for the author’s use of organizers such as numbers, letters, steps, or sentence signals such as, first, second, however, nevertheless or next. Look for words that are bold faced, italicised, or in a different font size, style, or color. Sometimes the author will put key ideas in the margin.
The material you scan is typically arranged in the following ways: alphabetically, chronologically, non-alphabetically, by category, or textually.
Alphabetical information is arranged in order, from A to Z, while chronological information is arranged in time or numerical order. Information can also be arranged in non-alphabetical order, such as a television listing, or by category, listings of like items such as an auto parts catalog. Sometimes information is located within the written paragraphs of a text.
A person’s peripheral vision can help him scan effectively. When your hand moves down a list of names, you see not only the name your finger is pointing to, but also the names above and below. Let your eyes work for you when searching for information.
You probably scanned in the past, without knowing you were doing so. Now, with the information provided in this lesson, you can use scanning more intentionally and frequently. The more you practice, the more effective scanning will become.
How You Can Improve Your Scanning Technique
You can use scanning to help you find information quickly. Here are some tips to help you improve and maintain your scanning speed without reading the text in any depth.
Note carefully the arrangement of the information:
- Begin by previewing the material if you do not already have a “map” (a mental outline or visualization) of how it is structured.
- Use the index/heading/bold type etc. to find the information you require.
- For scanning more complex material, you will need a thorough prior knowledge of the material: the organization, the content, stylistic devices, and rules of rhetoric and logic.
In the case of a dictionary, for example, you know the words are arranged alphabetically. Using the guide words at the top of the page, you can locate the correct page quickly and begin immediately to scan the alphabetical arrangement of words.
Alphabetical arrangements include resource material such as a dictionary, the index of a book, guides and reference listings
- television listings: day and time
- historical data and tables of months and years – they come chronologically
- sports pages by categories: baseball, football, tennis, etc.
- best seller lists numerically according to number of copies sold
- prose material: articles in newspapers and magazines, sections in encyclopedias or other reference materials
Whatever the source of reference you are using, you can be sure it is arranged in some logical way. In order to save reading time, it is important for you to know the arrangement of the material in the resource you are using. Therefore, to prepare for scanning, you must take a few minutes to discover the organizational pattern. This will give you a general idea of the order of ideas and topics. Once you understand the arrangement of thoughts in the selection, you will be better able to predict where the information you want may be located, and you can quickly and efficiently find what you need.
Keep clue words in mind:
- Know your specific question and understand it.
- Create a mental image of the fact, word, or phrase for which you are scanning.
- If the fact, word, or phrase does not appear, be ready to look for synonyms or closely related ideas.
- Use clues provided by the author.
- Stay alert and keep that clear idea in your mind (repeating it to yourself if necessary) as you scan quickly through the text to find the necessary information.
Speed and Accuracy:
- Move your eyes in a scanning pattern and do not stop to read until you find the specific information you are looking for.
- Your goal should be 100% accuracy.
- Use hand/finger movement to help you to move swiftly down the page. This will help you to ignore whole blocks of information which are not relevant to your question.
- “Un-focusing your eyes” or using a soft focus may help you to avoid irrelevant material and see the information you want more quickly.
The Benefits of Scanning
- Scanning helps you to become a more flexible reader.
- Scanning helps to speed up your reading.
- Scanning allows you to find details and other information in a hurry.
Read the following text quickly and answer the questions.
- When were X-rays discovered?
- Who discovered them?
- What are the four characteristics of X-rays?
The Discovery of X-rays
Except for a brief description of the Compton Effect, and a few other remarks, we have postponed the discussion of X-rays until the present chapter because it is particularly convenient to treat X-ray spectra after treating optical spectra. Although this ordering may have given the reader a distorted impression of the historical importance of X-rays, this impression will be corrected shortly as we describe the crucial role played by X-rays in the development of modern physics.
X-rays were discovered in 1895 by Roentgen while studying the phenomena of gaseous discharge. Using a cathode ray tube with a high voltage of several tens of kilovolts, he noticed that salts of barium would fluoresce when brought near the tube, although nothing visible was emitted by the tube. This effect persisted when the tube was wrapped with a layer of black cardboard. Roentgen soon established that the agency responsible for the fluorescence originated at the point at which the stream of energetic electrons struck the glass wall of the tube. Because of its unknown nature, he gave this agency the name X-rays. He found that X-rays could manifest themselves by darkening wrapped photographic plates, discharging charged electroscopes, as well as by causing fluorescence in a number of different substances. He also found that X-rays can penetrate considerable thicknesses of materials of low atomic number, whereas substances of high atomic number are relatively opaque. Roentgen took the first steps in identifying the nature of X-rays by using a system of slits to show that (1) they travel in straight lines, and that (2) they are uncharged, because they are not deflected by electric or magnetic fields.
The discovery of X-rays aroused the interest of all physicists, and many joined in the investigation of their properties. In 1899 Haga and Wind performed a single slit diffraction experiment with X-rays which showed that (3) X-rays are a wave motion phenomenon, and, from the size of the diffraction pattern, their wavelength could be estimated to be 10-8 cm. In 1906 Barkla proved that (4) the waves are transverse by showing that they can be polarized by scattering from many materials.
There is, of course, no longer anything unknown about the nature of X-rays. They are electromagnetic radiation of exactly the same nature as visible light, except that their wavelength is several orders of magnitude shorter. This conclusion follows from comparing properties 1 through 4 with the similar properties of visible light, but it was actually postulated by Thomson several years before all these properties were known. Thomson argued that X-rays are electromagnetic radiation because such radiation would be expected to be emitted from the point at which the electrons strike the wall of a cathode ray tube. At this point, the electrons suffer very violent accelerations in coming to a stop and, according to classical electromagnetic theory, all accelerated charged particles emit electromagnetic radiations. We shall see later that this explanation of the production of X-rays is at least partially correct.
In common with other electromagnetic radiations, X-rays exhibit particle-like aspects as well as wave-like aspects. The reader will recall that the Compton Effect, which is one of the most convincing demonstrations of the existence of quanta, was originally observed with electromagnetic radiation in the X-ray region of wavelengths.
Answers: Check to see if these were the same answers you got for the questions asked:
3. a. they travel in straight lines b. they are uncharged c. they are a wave motion phenomenon d. the waves are transverse
Read the following text quickly and fill in the table. What do the numbers given in the table refer to?
Spoon-fed feel lost at the cutting edge
Before arriving at university students will have been powerfully influenced by their school’s approach to learning particular subjects. Yet this is only rarely taken into account by teachers in higher education, according to new research carried out at Nottingham University, which could explain why so many students experience problems making the transition.
Historian Alan Booth says there is a growing feeling on both sides of the Atlantic that the shift from school to university-style learning could be vastly improved. But little consensus exists about who or what is at fault when the students cannot cope. “School teachers commonly blame the poor quality of university teaching, citing factors such as large first-year lectures, the widespread use of inexperienced postgraduate tutors and the general lack of concern for students in an environment where research is dominant in career progression,” Dr Booth said.
Many university tutors on the other hand claim that the school system is failing to prepare students for what will be expected of them at university. A-level history in particular is seen to be teacher-dominated, creating a passive dependency culture.
But while both sides are bent on attacking each other, little is heard during such exchanges from the students themselves, according to Dr Booth, who has devised a questionnaire to test the views of more than 200 first-year history students at Nottingham over a three-year period. The students were asked about their experience of how history is taught at the outset of their degree programme. It quickly became clear that teaching methods in school were pretty staid.
About 30 per cent of respondents claimed to have made significant use of primary sources (few felt very confident in handling them) and this had mostly been in connection with project work. Only 16 per cent had used video/audio; 2 per cent had experienced field trips and less than 1 per cent had engaged in role-play.
Dr Booth found students and teachers were frequently restricted by the assessment style which remains dominated by exams. These put obstacles in the way of more adventurous teaching and active learning, he said. Of the students in the survey just 13 per cent felt their A-level course had prepared them very well for work at university. Three-quarters felt it had prepared them fairly well.
One typical comment sums up the contrasting approach: “At A-level we tended to be spoon-fed with dictated notes and if we were told to do any background reading (which was rare) we were told exactly which pages to read out of the book”.
To test this further, the students were asked how well they were prepared in specific skills central to degree level history study. The answers reveal that the students felt most confident at taking notes from lectures and organizing their notes. They were least able to give an oral presentation and there was no great confidence in contributing to seminars, knowing how much to read, using primary sources and searching for texts. Even reading and taking notes from a book were often problematic. Just 6 per cent of the sample said they felt competent at writing essays, the staple A level assessment activity.
The personal influence of the teacher was paramount. In fact individual teachers were the centre of students’ learning at A level with some 86 per cent of respondents reporting that their teachers had been more influential in their development as historians than the students’ own reading and thinking.
The ideal teacher turned out to be someone who was enthusiastic about the subject; a good clear communicator who encouraged discussion. The ideal teacher was able to develop students’ involvement and independence. He or she was approachable and willing to help. The bad teacher, according to the survey, dictates notes and allows no room for discussion. He or she makes students learn strings of facts; appears uninterested in the subject and fails to listen to other points of view.
No matter how poor the students judged their preparedness for degree-level study, however, there was a fairly widespread optimism that the experience would change them significantly, particularly in terms of their open mindedness and ability to cope with people.
But it was clear, Dr Booth said, that the importance attached by many departments to third-year teaching could be misplaced. “Very often tutors regard the third year as the crucial time, allowing postgraduates to do a lot of the earlier teaching. But I am coming to the conclusion that the first year at university is the critical point of intervention”.
Alison Utley, Times Higher Education Supplement. February 6th, 1998.
Answers: Check to see if these were the same answers you got for the questions asked:
The instruction was for you to read the following text quickly and fill in the table. What do the numbers given in the table refer to?
1% had engaged in role-play
2% had experienced field trips
6% felt competent at writing essays
13% felt A-level courses had prepared them very well for university
16% had used video/audio
30% had made significant use of primary sources
3/4 felt A-level courses had prepared them fairly well for university
86% reported that their teachers had been more influential in their development as historians than the students’ own reading and thinking.
- Scanning has to do with looking for a specific piece of information in a passage by scrutinising that passage.
- In scanning you search for key words or ideas.
- In scanning you also look out for the author’s use of organisers and topic sentences to identify main ideas.
- Scanning increases your reading speed and helps you read through a piece of passage very fast.
William Foli Garr, (Rev.) M.Phil.
Prosper Kwesi Agordjor, M.Phil.
John Tetteh Agor, Ph.D.
Modestus Fosu, Ph.D.