"Have you ever sat down to read a chapter and realized you either can't follow the chapter's ideas or can't remember what you've read previously? Set yourself up for success by following a few simple pre-reading tips. First, preview the chapter. Skim the text by reading the chapter introductory remarks, subtitles, italicized print, summary and questions. Second, from your preview ask yourself two very important questions:
What is the chapter about?
What do I already know about the subject of the chapter?
Third, jot down any ideas that you remember from your preview and questioning. These could be words, phrases, or sentences. In the five to ten minutes it takes to pre-read a chapter you've familiarized yourself with the text, made an information connection with what you already know about the subject, and set yourself up for success in comprehending a difficult subject."
- By Mary Jo Campbell
Learning Styles and Reading
"During my years of teaching, I have found that students who incorporate the use of multiple senses in their study habits have better retention of course material. When you read the assignment in the textbook you see the material -- stimulating the visual sense. Along with this, it is important to recognize your particular learning style. Some students concentrate best in a quiet environment. Others function better with background music. Attending class and listening to a lecture stimulates the hearing sense. Note taking, another important activity in lecture based courses, reinforces what is heard during the lecture. Daily review and even rewriting notes helps clarify ideas. If you are taking a clinical or laboratory course, actually performing a procedure or activity will clarify the mental image of the procedure and also help you develop skill in the performance area. This stimulates the tactile sense. Remember, the more senses you use in the learning process, the better your retention of course material."
- By Janice Giltinan
Understanding Jargon in Text
"One study problem I hear students talk about is feeling overwhelmed by the professional jargon in a text. Students give up trying to understand the material and read it passively "just to get it finished." It can be helpful to change your attitude and approach to reading difficult material by viewing yourself as a translator of the material, with your job being to translate the text into your own language. There are many different ways to translate. For example, you can stop after reading every page and in the margin of the text write down your own example or define the terms in your own words. Continue to ask yourself, "How could I express this in everyday language?" If you are unsure, take an educated guess and ask for feedback in class. Getting feedback is important in helping you refine your understanding of the material. Also, viewing your job as a translator instead of a passive reader acknowledges the experiences and strengths you bring to learning the material. In this way new learning is building upon old learning."
- By Sharon Hamilton
Underlining Key Phrases
"Some people love to use their pink or yellow markers to underline everything in their text. I want to suggest to you this is a bad thing. When reading, underline only a keyword or a small phrase. Perhaps one or two items per page. Better yet, don't underline but keep a list of names and ideas you want to remember. Make a note of the page number the idea is on, then when studying you won't be faced with page after page of underlined material that you can't possibly read before the test. A few days before the quiz or test look at your list. Spend an hour or two each night for several nights. When you find something you don't know, which you can't recall, look it up on the page you cited. Study what you don't know. Combined with what you know and remember from a lecture, you should be the most knowledgeable person in the class. This technique is of no value if you're seeing the material for the first time the night before an exam."
- By Don Hoffman
Active Reading Suggestions
"One of the most frequent things I say to my students is be an active reader not a passive one. Reading isn't like watching TV. You just can't stare at a page and expect to remember much. Read an assigned chapter quickly -- first for a general overview -- then go back and seek out the details. Keep a pen or a pencil, not a highlighter, in your hand. Underline important passages. Write notes, questions and reactions in the margins. When you read you should be having a conversation with the text. Don't let it do all the talking -- react to it. Your response helps you formulate the meaning of the text. Mark up your book like crazy. I always tell my classes, the more you decrease the resale value of a book, the more you're probably getting out of it. So remember, read actively."
- By Roger Solberg
Novel Reading vs. Textbook Reading
"I am always surprised by the fact that many students read their textbook the same way they would read a novel, starting on page one and reading straight through to the end. Try reading your textbooks more like you would read a newspaper or magazine. Start by skimming through a section, reading the subject headings and any definitions that appear in boldface print. Study the pictures and figures carefully -- these are chosen to illustrate and highlight the essential points of the text. Next, read the introduction and summary and finally go back and read the text itself. Start with the material that most interests you, but be careful not to skip a section. Keep some scratch paper handy for jotting down important terms and working out problems. Leave your highlighter pens in the drawer. Most importantly, don't try to digest too much information at once. Read in 30 to 45 minute blocks of time with frequent breaks. This will help you to stay alert and focused."
- By Brian Zimmerman
Are You Reading Your Textbook?
"Read your text book. Now for many students this is stating the obvious, but for some students that is a novel idea. Reading your text should be just that--reading. Sometimes students get so carried away with highlighting that it seems their activity resembles coloring more than reading. Read your text before the professor lectures on the material. You'll find it easier to take lecture notes and ask reasonable questions. You'll be a better prepared student and in turn more successful."
- By Cindy Legin-Bucell
Successful Textbook Reading Techniques
"Most college professors select a text as required reading for their courses. These textbooks aren't always laden with interesting information presented in a fascinating manner. But, they do contain important information that will help you succeed in each of your courses. To get the most out of your textbook reading consider the following steps. Before you begin to actually read the assigned chapter, preview it. Read the chapter title, the major headings and the subheadings throughout the chapter. Then read the chapter introduction and the summary. Third, take note of any guiding questions which the author might have included in the beginning of the chapter, as well as any vocabulary words presened before the chapter. Then sit back and read the entire chapter's contents. While reading, pause to refer to illustrations, figures, and graphs which the textbook authors have included in the chapter. Reread the summary again after reading the entire chapter. Once you have completed the detailed reading, review the guiding questions presented at the beginning of the chapter and actively answer them, preferably in writing, but at least orally. This technique requires little practice, will reduce the time you need to spend reading your course assignments, and produces greater understanding of your textbook. Easy to use with maximum results . . . a college student's dream."
- By Dawn Snodgrass