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Working with Textbooks
Working with a textbook is different then reading general text and prose. The latter would amount to reading a chapter from beginning to end. However, one approaches a textbook with the intention of discovering what is important to study in order to bring about the proficient understanding of the knowledge that the textbook has to offer. Thus, rather then reading the chapter line by line and highlighting as one goes along, one might read through a chapter in a textbook 6-8 times while only considering certain elements that the nature of the textbook itself offers as being important each time through.

The authors of a textbook inform the reader as to what is important in many ways such as the table of contents, chapter headings, subtitles, italics, bold prints, diagrams, review questions summaries, etc. By focusing upon these elements one can take advantage of the organization structure and nature of the textbook to facilitate a more economical approach to studying the material.

The primary objective is to identify what is most important and essential for the focus of study rather than giving excessive importance to secondary or tertiary information.

The following process is applied to studying a textbook a chapter at a time.
  1. Look at the table of contents listing the chapter title and see what topics are listed.
  2. Read any summations at the end of sections or the chapter itself.
  3. Read any review questions at the end of the chapter.
  4. Go through the chapter identifying any titles or subtitles in the chapters.*
  5. Go through the chapter identifying the topic sentence in each paragraph.*
  6. Go through the chapter and identify any word that is written in bold.*
  7. Go through the chapter and identify any word that is written in italics.*
  8. Go through the chapter and identify any definitions of terms or processes.*
  9. Answer all review questions at the end of the chapter.
  10. Study any diagrams that are presented
  11. Read through the chapter as desired for further understanding or clarification.
*An effective and helpful practice is to write out the material that is found for each of the above steps using the subtitles as a means of establishing order. This would then provide an excellent study guide or review sheet for chapter tests, midterms and finals. E.g.

Chapter title
  • Subtitle:
  • Topic sentence:
  • Definitions:
  • Processes: