Active Textbook Reading - Lake Washington Institute of Technology

Active Textbook Reading
Lake Washington Institute of Technology
Project Years 2010-2015
Achieving Excellence Together
Table of Contents
Active Reading
SQ3R – Improving Reading Comprehension
Textbook Note Taking
Learning Styles
The enclosed materials were compiled through grants from the U.S. Department of Education. However, the contents have not been
reviewed by the Department and no endorsement should be inferred. The Lake Washington Institute of Technology Student Support
Services TRiO Projects are100% federally funded annually at $444,064
Active Reading
Did you ever fall asleep while playing a game or when watching your favorite movie?
Probably not.
How about when you read a textbook?
Probably so.
What is the difference?
Active involvement, physically or mentally, in an activity causes a person to stay interested
and committed. When you become passive, however, you rapidly lose interest and your
thoughts drift away.
In order to learn and retain information effectively from your textbooks, you must be an active
participant in the process, rather than passively hoping you’ll remember what you read.
Preview the chapter and create questions to answer while you read
Break the chapter into easy to read sections
Read each section actively, looking for answers to your questions
Think about what you read, write down key points that stood out to you
Connect new material to your own experiences and prior learning
Test yourself over what you read to check for understanding of concepts
Review your reading daily and weekly to retain the most important information
Adapted from Rio Salado College © 2012
Preview &
Test Yourself
& Review
Think About
& Connect
Break Down
SQ3R – Improving Reading Comprehension
The SQ3R method helps you to actively study textbooks and readings in order to retain the
concepts of the material.
With this method, you can also set realistic study sessions – keep sessions brief (15-20 minutes)
and free from outside distractions.
Repeat steps 1-4 until you complete the chapter. Save the REVIEW step until you are
done reading.
Quickly examine the major headings in a chapter. These can give you an
idea of the general structure and content. Read the introduction,
summary and review questions (if available).
Take what you learn from the chapter headings to create questions that
you will answer while you read. Keep the questions general, covering
main ideas and important points.
Divide the material into easy to read sections (usually based on the
section headings in each chapter). Read the material section by section
and look for answers to your questions. Pay attention to charts, graphs,
tables, and pictures. Make sure you understand what you read before
moving on to the next step.
Go back through the section you just read and take notes or highlight
key points and main ideas. Taking notes and highlighting after you read
will keep you focused on the most important information so you don’t end
up highlighting too much. Generally, the most important information is in
the first and last sentence of a paragraph.
After finishing the entire chapter, scan over the reading and review the
information aloud or in your head. Try to identify overall themes and
relationships among concepts.
Adapted from WWU Tutorial Center and LWIT TRiO Projects Study Skills Program
Highlighting can be very beneficial to students, especially those who are visual learners.
However, many times students highlight too much, or they are ineffective when it comes to
How to highlight
Read first and then highlight – only after reading can you decide what’s really important
Review headings, charts, pictures, diagrams, and bold words – Headings show what the
most important topics are in a particular section. Use the headings to form questions that
you expect to be answered in the section
After reading a section, go back and highlight the main ideas – usually these are the
answers to the questions you formed
Identify and highlight important facts that explain or support the main idea
Highlight key words or phrases – don’t highlight complete sentences
Only highlight 1-2 sentences per paragraph (about 10% of the page)
Summarize key points – take notes in a separate notebook or write in the margins.
Highlighting by itself is often not sufficient
Review highlighted information within 24 hours to aide in retention
Textbook Note Taking
Many students can’t rely on highlighting as the only method for reviewing key points and
Taking notes on the most important information, key points, and concepts is a must for most
* Remember to only take notes AFTER you read a section
Marginal Notes – write key points and concepts in the margin. Use your own words.
Binder Notes – write important concepts and main ideas into a separate notebook. Use
your own words. Notes can be linear (ex. free form, outline) or visual (ex. concept
mapping, flow chart).
Review – within 24 hours of completing your reading, go back over your notes.
Reviewing on a daily and weekly basis transfers information to your long term memory.
Learning Styles
Visual learners like to study information using charts, pictures, diagrams, flow charts, and any
other visual aide to help them learn new concepts. Using color coding and highlighters is helpful.
Charts, Pictures, Diagrams, Flow
Charts, Colors, Highlighters
Aural learners study by listening to new information and reciting it out loud to themselves or
others. Aural learners will benefit by reading their textbooks aloud to themselves.
Hearing, Reciting, Audio Textbooks,
Explaining to Others
Read/Write learners study by reading their textbooks and re-writing information over again.
They prefer lists and outlines. They will benefit from taking detailed notes on their readings.
Take Notes, Outline, List, Review
Notes/Chapter Summary
Kinesthetic learners like to study by doing, experimenting, and repeating. Many kinesthetic
learners move constantly while studying. Music, movement, or repetition work really well.
Moving, Music, Repetition, Use All 5