Guest Author - Susan D. Bates
-Have you ever read pages in a textbook and found that you do not know what you just read?
-Have you ever taken a test and realized that you have forgotten all of the information you had learned from the textbook?
If you answered "yes" to either of these questions then you can benefit from learning the steps to getting the most out of a textbook.
Reading a textbook is a very different experience than reading a book for pleasure. When reading a book for pleasure, you are likely to be relaxed. If the book is not interesting to you, you can stop. There is also no pressure to learn information from pleasure reading. However, you are usually reading textbooks to gain specific information and to prepare for tests. Therefore, you are under pressure to determine what information is important in the textbook and to learn the necessary information. Also, regardless of your interest in the material, you are expected to read the textbook.
The format of a textbook is also very different from other books. The layout of a typical textbook is designed to break down material and to help readers easily understand the it. However, to get the most out of the material, you need to know the textbook-reading steps.
When reading a chapter of a typical textbook, follow the steps below to maximize your understanding and recollection of the material:
Step 1: Read the objectives and the section titles that are written in bold. Scanning these pieces of information will give you an idea of what you are about to read. When you sit down to read the text in more detail, it will make more sense and you will have better comprehension of the materials.
Step 2: Read the summary located at the end of the chapter. This will let you know the main points the author wants you to have learned from the chapter. When you go through the reading you will be able to see why this important is important and to be able to gain a deeper understanding of it.
Step 3: Read any discussion questions for the chapter (These are often found at the end of the chapter; however, they may be at the beginning of the chapter in some textbooks.) As you read the chapter, try to answer these questions. This will help ensure that you are finding most important information and will give you a chance to think about the material.
Step 4: Go back to the beginning of the chapter and read the first section title again. This time, turn the sentence into a question. For example, if the heading reads, "Techniques for taking an infant's temperature," you can change it in your mind to "What are the techniques for taking an infant's temperature?" Then, as you read the section, look for the answer.
You may want to highlight the answer or other very important pieces of information. Be careful not to over highlight; if you highlight too much information, nothing will stand out.
Create flash cards as you read to help you study for tests. Write the questions you have made out of headings on one side of a note card and the answers on the back of the note card.
Continue on using this technique until you reach the end of the chapter. If you do not want to read the entire chapter in one sitting, stop at the end of a section and start at the next section when you return to the chapter.
Step 5. Pay attention to new terms Textbooks often contain terminology that is new to students. These are often specific to the subject matter the textbook covers. In many cases theses words will be written in bold. If the word is written in bold, the definition will likely be available at the end of the chapter or at the end of the book.
Create flashcards for the new terms to help you learn them. On one side of a note card the word; on the other side write the definition.
Step 6: Review the section titles of entire chapter. This will help you remember the information later.
Step 7: Use the note cards periodically to ask yourself questions to be able to recollect the information you read.
Step 8: Before your test, review the chapter again and continue to use the note cards as study aids.
Reading a textbook requires you to examine each section strategically. Using the steps above when reading a textbook will help you get the most out of it and help you to retain more information.