Textbook Reading Strategies for Efficient Learning Outcomes – Timsy Thomas

Let us explore our education system. Textbooks have always played a prominent role in our classroom learning. When we look at our socio-economic background not many schools in India can afford to ask their students to buy reference books. Therefore, textbooks play the role of the holy bible and every student vouches by his textbooks. Even entrance exams are modelled or based on questions taken from the NCERT textbooks, therefore efficient learning from the textbooks becomes the need of the hour. So how do we develop Textbook Reading Strategies for Efficient Learning Outcomes?

Before we move to the reading strategies let us explore a little more on effective learning. Effective learning occurs when we make multiple connections of new ideas to old ones; and think radically. To some extent, students should be able to unlearn or rather discard some prejudices. Every student comes to school with some right and some wrong ideas, therefore mere contradiction is not sufficient, students must be encouraged to develop new views by seeing how such views help them make better sense of the world.

To learn things effectively one must advance from the simple to the complex and Learning best happens when we proceed from the Concrete to the Abstract. Students should be able to identify their best learning style for example if he/she is visual learner or an auditory learner or even kinesthetic learner and modify their learning strategies to best suit their style. Learning often takes place best when students have opportunities to express ideas and get feedback from their peers and teachers. 

Teachers encourage student participation in the classroom discussion and therefore encourage a spirit of healthy questioning which in turn lead to quick learning. Welcome curiosity and reward creativity. Consequently, we now realize the importance of textbooks and strategies that need to be developed for efficient Learning, for textbooks are no doubt the nuclei of the learning process.

Textbooks should be designed keeping in mind the different learning styles and multiple intelligence quotients. The Central Board of Secondary Education introduced some hallmark changes in the examination pattern, in lieu of the National Education Policy coming into being. These changes were introduced to discourage route learning and help students understand key concepts and application-based questions. Therefore, how do we use textbooks as an effective means to learn? And effective textbook reading strategies become the need of the hour. 

How do we develop these Strategies on Reading Textbooks for efficient Learning? 

As little children, we were asked to carry our textbooks to school every day. The idea is each textbook is a personalized copy of the individual. We review the content, underline the important keywords, draw small pictures and graphs anything that can help us learn, recollect and replicate. So reviewing any content will help you identify what’s significant as you read and make it possible for you to retain the detail. Try and recollect what you have learned by drawing a web diagram that can be scribbled on the edges or the white corners.  

Highlight the key concepts using colour markers so that you can visualize information, and decipher it. Reading aloud also helps in the retention of information gathered. Underline the key terms and vocabulary. Writing meanings of difficult words or maybe the theme of the poem in the margin of the textbook helps one remember it later when you are learning the lesson or poem. Write a summary of the central themes and ideas in your notes and prepare short notes or rather note-taking during a lecture is another method to retain and remember concepts taught in class. 

Always revise your notes so that you can remember and recollect key concepts learnt on that particular day itself and never procrastinate. Group studies also help you to understand concepts better and have another perspective or viewpoint on a particular concept or idea. Understanding the key concepts when your reading the text i.e. comprehending the passage using skimming and scanning techniques is another key to understanding the gist of the text.

Once that is taken care of we need to make sure what we need to absorb in detail so always go through the small text boxes, questions given at the end of the lesson and points to ponder. Most textbooks will give you these boxes in different colours, fonts and illustrations and we tend to skip these, but these boxes are very important when it comes to answering application-based or high order thinking questions. Most often students have overlooked or skipped content given in these boxes and have failed to understand and answer questions that are asked from these sections.  

The commencement of an academic year could be taxing for a student, he is introduced to new subjects, new teachers who would probably follow a different teaching style than the one that he was comfortable with, therefore the language used in the textbooks should be clear and lucid. If you are unable to understand a concept or topic that is given in the textbook, please make sure you approach your teacher or try reading about it from a reference book. Make sure you write down what you have learnt in your notebook or jot down points in your textbook, this will help you understand and recollect these at a later point in time when you are revising. 

Find your comfortable corner- Ergonomics plays a very important role in your ability to concentrate and retain the key concepts studied. Make sure you are comfortable, sitting in a place that is well lit and you can concentrate. Always keep your notebook and stationery handy, so if there is something that you need to understand or take down notes you have it all close to you and don’t have to move around searching for them, for this might break your concentration. To improve your concentration, make sure you stop when you are exhausted, for reading without understanding or reading without a purpose is just a waste of time. So take tiny breaks when you are exhausted and come back fresh. 

I am sure you will be able to learn effectively following the above tips, make your schedule and try and stick to it. Invest in active reading and you will soon see effective learning materialize. 

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