How To Study

The notion “reading is studying” needs to be removed from everyone’s brain. Reading alone is not “studying.” Reading is part of the Process of Learning and Study. When a student tells me “I read the chapter” I say, “that’s a good start. Now go back and re-read it 2 more times, and this time, pay attention.”

Simply reading the words alone in a textbook contributes almost nothing to the learning experience. The words and their meaning, the principles being related within the conversation textbook authors have with students, cannot be understood in merely one cursory reading. The true Process of Study is a multi-stage process which goes something like this:

  1. First, get familiar with the chapter by looking over the chapter. Look at the charts, graphs, maps, pictures. Consider the layout and formatting. Consider the number of pages in the chapter. Look at the formatting; look at the subject headings and subheadings.
  2. On your second pass through the chapter read the topic headings and subheadings. Read the first sentence or two under each topic.
  3. On your third pass read for content. You’re not really reading for comprehension at this point, you are merely reading to expose your brain to the information.
  4. On your fourth pass you’ll read for context. As you read, you’ll want to make connections between the author’s comments and any graphs, charts, maps, or pictures.
  5. On your fifth pass, you’ll want to return to examine key words and definitions.
  6. On your sixth pass, you’ll want to look for common themes, ideas, theories, relationships.
  7. On your seventh pass, examine the Review Questions, Critical Thinking questions, and Problems/Exercises.

Depending on the course you are studying (my comments hold true for any course, btw) the above items might be collapsed into fewer classes.

One method very helpful in the Study Process involves making your own questions about the content. Pretend you are teaching the course. Ask yourself, after you have studied the content, what portions of the content you feel is important to your students, then develop a battery of questions to reflect the information.

Years ago, a teacher gave me an important bit of wisdom: To learn something, learn it well enough to teach it to someone else.

While you might not appreciate the knowledge imparted by a particular course, you do get to choose how you learn and respond to the course.

Education is not one-way communication between teacher-student. If you elect to view Education from the One-Way perspective, you have undermined your own education. A student’s responsibility to study on his/her own is part of becoming educated. Learning is not simply predicated upon the whims of the teacher.

Everyone must bring a commitment to the table.

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