Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Previewing Your Textbook

As you kick start your fall semester and are setting your intention to be a supercharged and superprepared student, previewing your textbooks can give you that extra edge you need to get your mind in gear for the first day of class. This previewing strategy will give you a philosophy or mindset from which to read the text and relate to upcoming course discussion topics. As a result, you will approach class readings with the intent of mastering the subject matter and help you better understand the author’s point of view. Below are some benefits and strategies for previewing a textbook:

• Identify some the main ideas and challenges to the book. Read the preface thoroughly to get a sense of the author’s intent.

• Identify and write down the degree of difficulty that is contained in the table of contents. What topics do you find interesting and what areas might you struggle with. Why?

• Get familiar with the breakdown of the book with regard to glossary, terminology and definitions, as well as summaries and review questions. It helps to review these areas prior to reading each chapter in enhancing your understanding of the major concepts and principles.

• Ask questions with respect to: who, what, where, when, how and why as they relate to each chapter title.

• Is the copyright date current? Have there been changes in trends since the book was published? Keep these in mind as you compare course discussion topics with the time at which the book was originally written.

• How are the textbook chapters broken down? What can you identify by the textbook headings? How are the chapters subdivided? Understanding the structure of the chapters can help you when organizing your thoughts and ideas while you are absorbing the material.

• Explore the glossary and test yourself to see how many words you can master before you get a general idea about what the book is about. If your syllabus is available online, see what themes from the text tie in to the main areas of study in your book.

• Read the index and identify terms that may be familiar to you; see how many terms you can recall at the end of the index and how many remain fresh in your mind. What associations can you connect to the terms in the index? What life experiences or previous coursework can you tie in to the listed topics?

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