We have all experienced the following: sitting down to read some coursework only to discover that our minds have wandered away while our eyes have travelled down the page. It is not that we do not wish to learn, but there are many distractions when we read. Or perhaps we are tired, hungry or uncomfortable and cannot concentrate.
Our courses are text based which, for all its benefits, will sometimes mean a student can get lost in all the infomation given.
Enter the SQ3R method, which is the reading and studying system preferred by many educators. It is a very effective method for both comprehension and memory retention. It works because it is a system of active reader involvement. It is simple to learn. Here is how to apply this method to your own studies.
Before reading a coursework section, spend five minutes surveying the material. Check headings in order to understand the author's pattern of ideas to be discussed. Read introductory and summary paragraphs. This preview will enable you to anticipate what the coursework is about. Most Academy for Distance Learning courses have Aims at the start of each lesson and courses also come with a compiler document summarising the course in its entirety. This is where you can easily find a summary to help you get started.
Find meaning in the content by asking: What are the main points of this? Read on, keeping the question in mind, figuring out the most important points. This gives a clear purpose for reading, and helps establish interest.
Read actively for meaning. Before underlining or highlighting, go carefully through the piece. Be selective. Do not highlight unimportant points or omit key features. Summarise main concepts in the margins if using a paper version of your material. If you are using a browser to read this, have a notebook handy where you can make your notes. The more active you are in the doing this, the more you will retain.
After every unit of work, recite aloud the main points to the questions you asked in the Question stage, using your own words. If you can't remember some points, read it again. If you do not understand now, you will not remember it for an examination.
Finally, review the chapter to fix the material in your mind. Read again your margin notes and highlighted text. Review once right after you've finished reading and then every couple of days. This system is time consuming, but research indicates a 70% increase in retention after two months of using the system and, a reduction in time spent preparing for exams.
Ideally, we also need to develop and maintain a great interest in the subjects we are studying. If we regard our studying time as a chore, or merely a stepping stone to better things, then sooner or later, we shall be tempted to find an excuse not to do it. At the Academy for Distance Learning, we encourage all students to enjoy and personally benefit from their coursework, and to regard it as that all-important ‘me-time’ that makes us feel good.
Don't forget, Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review!