Why Writing Works

Disciplinary Approaches to Composing Texts

Reading in Business Communication

by Dr. Heather Rickgarn

As students enter the business discipline, they need to develop strong reading/comprehension skills. Even with the transition to multi-modal learning, students are going to be expected to read and comprehend information in the workplace. With the presence of multiple generations, the likelihood of having information presented in  a student’s preferred method all the time is limited. Thus, students will need to be able to breakdown information, take articulate notes, and translate that information into tangible take-away pieces.

Ideally, students need to be proficient in reading textbook materials as well as breaking down government agency information. Specific to the Introduction to Business class, I go in with the assumption that students do not know anything on research and break it down into manageable pieces. I want to show students how to find sources that are credible and scholarly. 

While scholarly sources are essential to the field, students need to be able to pull information from those sources to help support/contradict their research points. To become proficient in these areas, students need to practice reading in each area. Becoming inquisitive through asking questions and engaging in active learning practices can help in developing reading proficiency.     

Reading Habits 

As a student new to the discipline, it is helpful to read for content to gain a broader understanding of the field. Watch for highlighted options, visuals, question check-points, or cases to help in understanding the information. Students should take notes in  their preferred method as they read to help with retaining information. For example, some students may highlight, some may write down key terms or stats, or some may use notecards.    

As the information is read, students should take short breaks to check their understanding and comprehension along the way. For example, if  a student is unfamiliar with the Hawthorne studies, it may be helpful to do some additional (quick) research to see if they can find it explained differently. Quick research techniques could include using the textbook glossary, Google, YouTube, or SMSU’s library database search.    

Also, during these short breaks, students should see if  they can apply the material to real-world scenarios. For example, if a student is   learning about management techniques, they should see if they can apply the concepts to  real-life experiences from their workplace, participating on a team, or peer-group interactions. All of this can help students with breaking down what they’re reading for better comprehension.   

As a student begins reading, it may be helpful to remember everything doesn’t need to be read in order, but rather a student should focus on the critical sections needed for their reading purposes (University of North Carolina, 2020). Some professors may place a higher focus on the background or literature review, whereas others may be more focused on the outcomes. Students may consider using a note-taking template when they read through the journal article as a way to keep on top of critical points or facts (University of North Carolina, 2020).     

Once students are done reading the critical points of the article, they should try and find a way to explain what they just read, either to themselves or to a friend/family member. The act of explaining it to someone else can help activate memory and answer questions that may be asked by the professor later (University of North Carolina, 2020).    

Resources for Reading 

Dartmouth (2020) is an excellent source for identifying reading techniques, specifically on improving reading rate along with comprehension. While this is not specific to the management discipline, the tips and tricks regarding skimming, rate of reading, and identifying key words can apply to students in the business area.   

With the breadth of the management field, there are two different frames to view scholarly work. One is in the traditional sense through the use of scholarly journals, which include a professional association component. Some examples of scholarly journals include:   

  • Academy of Management Annuals 
  • Academy of Management Journal  
  • Asia Pacific Journal of Management  
  • Business Strategy and the Environment  
  • Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice  


Business Communication Overview

Writing in Business Communication

Research in Business Communication

Documentation in Business Communication