Much of the material we have to learn at
university is presented to us in written form, most commonly
in texts and readings from journals. Students may have
problems with both the complexity and the
amount of the material they have to read. We can help
you deal with each of these concerns.
Build active learning activities into each reading session, since
reading is an inherently passive process. Merely
exposing yourself to material is not an effective
learning activity, even if you do it many times.
Get the big picture first, so the details will have a structure
and categories to fit into.
Find out what you don't remember (by reviewing from
memory) to focus future learning.
Figure out what's important. This will include
material that is emphasized by size or other graphical
techniques (boldface, italics) or position (beginning or end of
a section). Sometimes the introduction or concluding paragraph
will highlight the key points. Texts might even include
objectives, study questions, terms, etc. Ask yourself about the
level of detail needed for mastery, keeping in mind that you
probably only need to know the main ideas and supporting
Read what's important. Get the big picture first:
don't try to learn detailed information yet.
Review from memory. Using a concept map, write down
everything you can remember, without looking back at the text.
If you can't remember at least 80% of the key points you have
covered, you read too much before reviewing. (Don't think that
the material that you forgot will magically reappear on the
exam when you really need it -- it won't!)
- Repeat the above steps as many times as necessary, going for
greater detail each time. Stop when you can recall the key
Students enrolled in the Modular Learning Skills Course work
through several modules specifically related to reading.
The following handouts are available free from the Learning
The strategies above will provide you with a good start. However,
if you are still having difficulties with reading, be sure to
appointment with David
Palmer-Stone . Some reading tasks (such as math and the
physical sciences, poetry, and foreign languages) require