Home » Module 8 - Don't read, skim! » Don’t read, skim!

Don’t read, skim!

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all doing okay.

I was today years old when I realized that I’ve never formally thought about “skimming” or “scanning” as a teachable reading technique. 

It’s something I’ve done in shame, in “I’m cheating” or “I’m not paying attention to the author” or “I’m skimming this and what if I miss something important and draw the wrong conclusion”

So still to this day, many years into my academic career, I typically pick up a book or an article and read it from start to finish (aka I don’t get as much reading done as I’d like). My grandmother taught me to be a reader and she was very strict about reading cover to cover and never starting a new book before you finish the one you’re reading. 

I wish I had known that wasn’t an *actual* rule in the world and instead just her preference. My reading trajectory would’ve probably been much less stressful.

So now, for those of you who have never been given this gift, I’m going to tell you that skimming and scanning are acceptable and even promoted reading strategies for getting through lots of different texts.

I tried to find a procedure for scanning/skimming that I liked, but they’re all sort of bland and say the same thing. This link was the clearest, simplest, version I could find after an evening of searching. It comes from the University of North Carolina’s Learning Center and it outlines strategies for academic reading.

Full disclosure: I started thinking about scanning/skimming because the article I want you to read on electronic miniaturization is 22 pages (with sources). The article stays on our topic of thinking about disability and technologies that can/should be inclusive. It’s also interesting because it gives a history of how this type of electronic miniaturization was created by disabled people to support their desire for hearing aids.

Please skim/scan the article attached and tell me something new that you find both from the technique of skimming/scanning and about electronic miniaturization.


  1. As someone who loves reading, I have always read books, articles, and newspapers from start to finish. However, as my workload became more and more difficult to manage starting from my senior year of high school, I realized that my ability to read everything fully and completely was no longer possible. I simply did not have enough time to read something, comprehend it, and complete the assignment for it. And so, It was around this time that I came across the concept of skimming. I’m surprised that you decided to teach us about skimming because it’s not something that most people learn about. Rather, it’s something they do without realizing that they do it when time becomes of the essence. I started to skim when the readings from my assignments changed from being 8-10 pages in high school to 50-60 pages (minimum) in college. I really enjoy skimming because it helps save so much time and during assignments, provides me with the same amount of information that I would have gotten had I read the entire article from start to finish. When skimming, I tend to use the wheat vs. chaff method and usually read from the beginning of the paragraph up until the middle of it before determining if I should read all of it. However, after looking at the other methods, I realized that it would be more appropriate if I used the beginnings and endings method. Since I might miss out important information by skipping the endings of the paragraphs, I realized that I should try out different methods and go with the one that helps me retain the most information.

    In terms of the article on electronic miniaturization, as I was skimming through it, I realized that I focused mainly on the quotes that were used because I found them to be very interesting. In particular, I was interested in Aunt Mary’s words “—‘‘people don’t like to be seen with a deaf person. Makes ‘em feel too con- spicuous.”. I realized that though wanting a device that could easily be carried around and didn’t need to be held up to the ear was one of the reasons why hearing aids got smaller, another reason was that people wanted to use hearing aids without other people noticing that they were using them. This was interesting to me because I never considered how society thought of hearing aids. I assumed that they were made smaller because it was more convenient to wear them than to carry them around. I didn’t consider that at the time, being around someone who was hard of hearing or deaf could be looked at in a negative manner.

  2. Skimming or scanning is the best way to get idea about a topic without reading it line by line and wasting time. It is best suitable for those people who have less patience or do not love to read. While scanning through the text called “Hearing-Aids-and-the-History-of-Electronic-Miniaturization”, I found that the text mainly deals with the evolution of electronic technology. I have already learnt about Moore’s law in my Digital Computer Systems class. The picture on second page shows the hearing aid machine developed in different years. Not just with hearing aid devices but also with all electronic devices, the same thing had happened. The devices are getting smaller in size and the number of transistors used inside these devices are increasing day by day, which makes the device more faster. If we compare the hearing aid device of 1953 with today’s that is Air-pods, then there is no doubt that today’s blue-tooth headphones are the smallest.

  3. I normally skim through literature when it’s too long to read within 15-30 minutes, it’s a fast and easy way to get the information you need without all the bloat. Some of the things I do to help me skim is to look for large or bolded text, most of the time this text is large and bolded for a reason, they’re key details that the author wants you to notice. The article on electronic miniaturization that we were supposed to read really brought up great ideas. Some of which being Moore’s law and how its definition evolved from just the “prediction that the speed of computers will double every year or two” to including improvements in size, density, ruggedness, and reliability. If there’s something that can be improved, then it will be improved. Another interesting detail in this piece of literature is how WWII really kick started the demand for microelectronics, later on this new and improved technology would be released on a commercial scale. If you do some digging on common technologies that we use today, you’ll find that they were initially made for use during war and not for the common mass. All in all, skimming is extremely useful when you’re on a time crunch and don’t have time to read dozens of pages of literature.

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