Summarize to understand

Activities that summarize the text can be proposed to facilitate understanding, even if the latter is necessary for a good summary. This article discusses these two closely related aspects. Therefore, we will explore why the practice of summarizing texts positively affects understanding of the latter, and we will detail the different methods used in teaching to optimize its effect.

From summarizing activities to “summarizing” objects: a heavy comprehension effort

The concept of a Summary covers too many different products to describe in a few sentences. Summarization can be defined as “a communication project” and cannot be simplified so not a simple text contraction. Therefore, we found different forms of text summaries that vary according to the following parameters:

– Text to be summarized: Narrative text, unlike explanatory or argumentative text, results in a chronological reorganization of a summary of the presented events. The length of the text and its complexity also factor into the activity.

– Purpose of the abstract: The abstract repeats part of the text (open abstract) or the entire text (closed abstract), depending on its motivational or informative purpose. The purpose of the abstract also affects its length and thus the intensity of efforts to reduce information. When a person is forced to summarize with fewer words, he uses more rules to compress the information.

– the viewpoint adopted: the importance of the information to be included and the quality of the writing vary by taking into account the interests of the author of the original text, summaries or recipients of summaries (eg, teachers).

Different normative models related to summarization activities exist in the literature

They more or less integrate the previous parameters and concretize them around reading, analysis and writing. We distinguish three types:

– Functional model. Synthesizing the provisions of this activity in the school textbook, summarizing the work before the actual writing can be broken down into six subtasks: reading the text, understanding vocabulary, distinguishing main and auxiliary elements, identifying paragraphs and their links, identifying keywords, and finalizing the plan for the text.

– Qualitative models. This template focuses more on determining what information to include in the abstract. Therefore, one model proposes to reorganize and shrink Source text only after selecting and eliminating information

Trivial. This should allow the abstractor to promote his writing work. Selection and elimination itself can be initiated by prioritization of information.

– Canonical model. Some templates contain more instructions related to the final form of the abstract. For example, a model specifies a rearranged language system and pronouns (third person, now indicative), restore chronological order, adopt unfocused views, remove diagonals and descriptive sequences.

Unlike the first model, the second model less precisely describes how to proceed in conclusion. The reported steps are more abstract. Furthermore, from a pedagogical point of view, The first model seems more relevant. It makes more adjustments to the processes implemented by the digester. In all models, both processes occur frequently, more Or less explicitly: the hierarchy and transposition of certain ideas in the text – Source in the abstract. Therefore, we are particularly interested in these processes. This is part of the comprehension stage.

Why does summarization promote understanding?

In the previous section, we insisted on understanding the text to be summarized. The quality of abstract semantic content is directly related to the quality of understanding. Research has shown that the activity of summarizing text improves comprehension because it triggers a variety of positive behaviors:

– Stimulate connections between existing knowledge and new knowledge perceptual information. When we wrap up, we keep going back and forth between the source text and the current abstract. We construct a representation text, we assess what is necessary, we reorganize information, let us rephrase it in our own way. These operations inspire internal and external connections, i.e. they reinforce the connection that the information in the text holds between them, and the connection it holds with our prior knowledge, respectively. They improve the organization of information in memory. The study compared summarizing activities with note-taking activities and showed that when information was encoded in summaries, it was recalled better than when it was encoded in notes.

– Monitoring. Just like a proverb, expressing kindness

Obviously, the difficulty of generalizing makes any misunderstood view possible. The problem can then be solved using appropriate strategies (rereading, asking questions). The generation of abstracts then makes it possible to control their understanding.

– The work of remembering the source text. The delay between reading the text and writing the abstract also promotes comprehension. In fact, time helps to forget secondary factors. Summarizing text read a few days ago requires greater effort to remember and reconstruct its meaning than summarizing text immediately after reading.

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