When beginning a new chapter in a familiar textbook, it is important to look over the entire chapter before reading to get an overview of the new information. This allows the reader to identify the difficulty of the material and decide how it fits into course goals. A preliminary chapter review helps determine how much time to set aside for reading and how to integrate the new information with what was learned previously. If many of the words in the text seem unfamiliar, it is helpful to look up new vocabulary words before reading. Stopping to use the dictionary while reading can disrupt continuity and make it more difficult to see the big picture.
Studies suggest that we learn by making connections between pieces of information and relating them to what we know. Readers can often predict the types of information that will be presented in a chapter. Making a conscious effort to do this will help readers focus on content. Textbook study questions also provide an excellent snapshot of the most important information in the chapter. Reading these questions helps students focus on pertinent material as they read, making reading time more effective.
The act of reading can quickly become passive if the reader simply moves his/her eyes across the pages. To become more actively involved, turn each subject heading into a question. For example, the heading Fundamentals of Nursing can be turned into a question simply by using a question word such as who, what, where, or why. In this case, the question created could become What are the fundamentals of nursing? Readers who use this method are less likely to have their minds wander. If you have ever read a page or two and realized you had no idea what those pages were about, this technique should help. This strategy also focuses concentration on the answers to the created questions. In other words, if your brain asks a question, it is more likely to retrieve the corresponding answer from the reading and to begin the process of putting that information into long-term memory.
One way to make sure you are learning from reading is to stop at intervals to summarize what you have read. This method makes it easier to see how the new material is integrated into the course goals. Students who make notes while reading reinforce the new material and create a written record that can be used as a study aid. Students who recite new information orally reinforce auditory learning. In addition, putting new material into one’s own words is proof of good comprehension. If there is something that needs clarification from the instructor, this method will point that out. Margin notes, highlighting, and underlining are other techniques that help students monitor their reading comprehension. Such strategies also make it easier to predict possible test questions.
Active LearningA Key Component to College Success
What’s so important about active learning?• The brain discards most new input unless that information is actively reinforced.• Active learning techniques shorten the time needed to learn new material in the classroom and in texts.
Human Memory is Very Selective Informative is stored if it is “selected” The mind groups facts according to meaning or relationships The mind looks for patterns When a pattern is identified, we give it a name, e.g. “dog”
Aspects of Memory• Recent memories are stored in the hippocampus• Memory creation requires an anatomical restructuring of the brain 1. Nerve cells grow and make connections to nearby receptors 2. Intensity of emotion connected to a memory pushes the event or fact into long-term memory
How Does This Pertain to College?Students need to: Identify important information Find methods that enhance memory Use reinforcement techniques to retain necessary information
How We Retain InformationWe have 3 basic stages of memorySensory: lasts a few seconds, unlimited capacityShort-term: information stored as sounds, pictures, words; about 7 bits in lengthLong-term memory
Sensory Memory Automatic Outside of cognitive control Decays quickly and cannot be restored
Short Term Memory• More accurate term: working memory• Temporary storage of information• Where all active thinking occurs• Frequently purges old or unnecessary information
Short Term Memory• Holds about 7 pieces of information at a time• The amount we can remember can be increased by “chunking” information• As chunks become more complex, more data can be stored in short term memory
Long term memory• Virtually unlimited capacity• Can hold information for decades• Repository of permanent information
Moving New Information into Long Term Memory Note Taking Practice active listening. Pay attention and maintain eye contact with the speaker. Don’t permit people near you, objects outside the window, noises, and other things to distract you. Listen for main points. Ask questions. Adopt a note-taking system that works for you.
The Outline Method• Perhaps the most common method, the outline organizes text or lecture material into main topics, sub-topics, and supporti9ng details using indentations to make information visually accessible. Example: Main Topic Sub-topic 1 Supporting Detail 1 Supporting Detail 2 Sub-topic 2 Supporting Detail 1
The Cornell MethodMain Ideas DetailsCornell notes Can be used to outline the course, chapter, or lecture Place to organize main ideas and details Can be as detailed as necessary Sequential – chronological and orderly Place to write a summary after class to clarify points and reinforce what was learned Excellent study tool Define terms or explain concepts listed on the left side. Identify the concept or term based on its definition on the right side. Shows “big picture” of the course, chapter, or lecture Organized by main ideas and sub-topics
The Mapping Method• Mapping is an alternative note taking format that involves graphic representation of lecture content. It is an excellent method for visual learners and may help students “see” lecture material more readily than the traditional outline format. ISSUES Political Parties U.S. Pres. Elections Voters Media
Reading Texts – Survey FirstWhen beginning a new textbook, look over the format of the entire book. Determine:• Book layout• Print size• Readability (easy or difficult language)• Presence of pictures and graphs• Resources (glossary, chapter summaries, chapter questions, vocabulary lists• Supplemental materials (websites, CDs, etc.)
Make Predictions Make connections between new information and previous knowledge Predict what will come next This strategy helps with information retention!
Ask/Create Questions Reading can be a passive activity. To make reading more interactive, create questions based on the subject headings. Playing an active role boosts retention of information.
Monitor Reading Comprehension Summarize at the end of chapter headings Take notes. Make notes in the margins. Recite information in your own words.
Form Study Groups• Study group interaction reinforces new information & facilitates real learning.• Active learning allows the brain to synthesize information and retain it well.• Sessions focus on students’ questions & concerns.• Students gain control of their learning.
Use Techniques That Make Learning An Active Process for Better Retention• Active note taking• Interactive reading strategies• Study groups• Awareness of learning styles
Using Active Learning Techniques – Makes more efficient use of your time – Helps you retain information better and long – Makes academic success more attainable
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