Reading from a textbook is very daunting. Student moan, groan, complain and procrastinate textbook reading. Many times it is simply because they don’t know the best way to learn from one. First — more than the best skills — adapt a new attitude. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t be scared. Simply jump in! Learning from a textbook is a process and a skill that is fine-tuned over time.
The best advice I ever received from an instructor was to start from the end of the chapter and move forward. Seems silly doesn’t it? Yet, the authors put together the most important points and knowledge at the end of the chapter.
Try these tips for your reading strategy:
- Go to the questions at the end of the chapter. Read these.
- Read the summary.
- Read the important points section at the beginning of the chapter. (Not all textbooks have this area.)
- Read the introduction.
- Skim through the chapter, noting the headings and all the subtopics.
- Read the vocabulary words -many textbooks will have these highlighted or listed in the side margins of the chapter.
- Work through any sample problems that are used in the text.
- Take notes from the text. (When studying for an exam, use these notes more than you refer to the text.)
- Don’t be afraid to write in the book!
- Highlight key concepts.
- Choose different colored highlighters for different items -for instance vocabulary words in pink.
- Square, circle, draw, doodle on words. Pay special attention to some items -like if/then statements. Circle ‘if’ and watch for the ‘then’ to follow. If/then statements are key to new information!
What are some of your favorite tips?
By Tracy Atkinson
Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is researching, studying and investigating the attributes related to self-directed learners. She has published several titles, including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.