Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reading: The SQ3R Method

Happy Wednesday folks! Wednesday blues got you? That pile of readings you need to do for your classes still at the back of your head, bugging you... but you try to convince yourself you don't need to do it now, because you have been attending the lectures diligently. I have been talking about doing the readings and always emphasizing that you should do your readings BEFORE the lecture. But you are still not convince, then this post is all for you!

You often ask yourself why should I be spending hours reading when my professor will be talking about these topics in class... But an important concept to always take note is that university is not like highschool, where you can go to class and understand everything the instructor is saying without reading further about it. The volume of reading you have to do in university can attest to this.

Professors always assume (or expect!) that you can read the textbooks yourself.. on your own time, so usually they would not teach from the textbook. This is not to say that the readings assigned by the professors are irrelevant to the topics being discussed in the lecture.What the professor is doing in class is expanding on important ideas from the readings and providing new information, which is not covered in class readings.

So why is it important to read before your lectures:
  • It will help you to have a better understanding of what it is going to be discussed in the lecture
  • It will help you take notes more efficiently in class
  • It will help you prepare for the midterms and final examinations better, as this can help you avoid procrastinating a day or two before the exam.
 I know that it is difficult to initially sit down in front of a thick textbook, and start reading (refer to my 5-minute plan blog post). Setting daily goals and cutting your tasks in portions can definitely help make the amount of reading that you have to do manageable. Also, make sure you keep up with your readings weekly, to avoid procrastination for exams.

A couple of tips when covering class readings:

SQ3R Method:
Survey the chapter before you start reading. Make an outline of the chapter, using headings, if the author has not provided one at the beginning of the chapter. Always start by reading the chapter summary first, which will “prime your brain” by giving you a sense of the major themes of the chapter.

Question while you survey. Turn headings, subheadings and/or titles into questions as a way to test your knowledge of the material. Write down any questions that arise as a result of your readings that you would like answered at your next lecture.

Read for comprehension. If your professor has indicated that some chapters are less important than others, you will want to set your priorities accordingly.  Make connections between the sections that you are reading. It may be helpful for you to form visual images if this is a strategy that helps you to learn and remember. Choose a method of recording key information that works best for you. Some methods include underlining or highlighting, making brief notes in the margin or post-its, developing diagrams, making up test questions, and listing key words.

Recite after you’ve read a section. Ask yourself questions about the material you’ve just read. Rephrase the
material into your own words in written form (make notes) as this will help you to better remember what you
have read.

Review your textbook notes within 24 hours. Discuss the material with a classmate or try teaching it to someone else. Try aiming for another major review of your textbook notes once a month until the final exam.

If you need to know your strengths and those that you need further developing, there is a small assessment at the back of this tipsheet that can help you figure out what those are exactly.  Also, for further strategies in reading refer to the tipsheet.

Happy reading,

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