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Academic Strategies Background art courtesy of USU FACT Center.

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1 Academic Strategies Background art courtesy of USU FACT Center

2 Part 1: Reading a Textbook
Textbook reading is a central component of a college education Much of the material you will need to learn will come from textbooks and other assigned readings. Effective reading requires much more than simply sitting down and reading the assigned chapters.

3 Remember Active reading takes practice. The more you read actively, the more skilled you will become. As you develop your skills, both your reading speed and comprehension will improve.

4 Why Annotate? Should I write in my textbook? High school
No writing in textbooks! Bookstore buyback. They won’t give me money. MYTH Besides What you value most: cash or the better grade that marking in your textbooks can help you earn.)

5 Why Annotate? Marking in college texts is not only allowed, it is encouraged. Writing allows you to become fully engaged in the reading process, making it one of the most important aspects of reading. This is ACTIVE reading If you have students who have difficulty reading university texts, you may want to refer them to this idea sheet which describes SQ3R method.

6 The “Three Bears Rule” for Marking Text
Image: This Image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1923 are copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF from the U.S. Copyright Office. Works published before 1923 (in this case 1905) are now in the public domain.

7 The “Three Bears Rule” for Marking Text
Over-marked text Reference: Longman, D.G. and Atkinson, R.H. College and Learning Skills. 6th ed. 2002, Wadsworth Thomson Learning. Chapter 5

8 The “Three Bears Rule” for Marking Text
Under-marked text Reference: Longman, D.G. and Atkinson, R.H. College and Learning Skills. 6th ed. 2002, Wadsworth Thomson Learning. Chapter 5

9 The “Three Bears Rule” for Marking Text
Just right” marked text Source: Carol Rosenthal, Academic Resource Center, Study Skills Instruction Module, Text Book Reading Skills. Reference: Longman, D.G. and Atkinson, R.H. College and Learning Skills. 6th ed. 2002, Wadsworth Thomson Learning. Chapter 5

10 Found after three minutes in USU Bookstore

11 Another way of looking at it:
From Holschuh, J.P, and Nist, S. L. (2007) Effective College Learning, 1st edition. Longman. p. 160.

12 What you can’t do is nothing.
Remember The amount of text you mark will depend on your familiarity with the material. What you can’t do is nothing.

13 Marking and Annotating Text
When Should You Mark and Annotate Your Text? Marking and annotating should be done after a “chunk” or unit of thought has been presented and the information can be viewed as a whole. This may mean marking after only one paragraph or after three pages. If you mark as you read, too much is marked and you are unable to see the “big picture” or main concepts. It takes time for the brain to organize information, so if you read, think, and then mark, the main points will develop, and you can decide what you need to mark to remember later.

14 Marking and Annotating Text
How Do You Mark and Annotate Your Text? You isolate key information by underlining and highlighting topics, main ideas, and important details. You create meaningful organization of that information by annotating. Annotating refers to writing explanatory notes in the margins of your textbook to organize and remember important information. While you read, look for signals that will tell you what information may be important: Headings Illustrations Key terms and definitions Important people Lists Time sequences or dates

15 What Do You Annotate? Headings: Terms and definitions:
Turn headings into a questions. (Who, how, why, what, when) Be sure to write the answers (Use ANS in margin.) Terms and definitions: What terms are important? (italics or bold) Circle terms and underline definitions. In the margin, write the key term. If the key term is also an answer to a question, write ANS above the words in the margin.

16 What Do You Annotate? Important information signaled by lists:
Star words that tell you what a list is about. Circle and number the items In the margin, write what the list is about in a word or two. Then list the points in an abbreviated format. If the list is also an answer to a question, write ANS in the margin.

17 What Do You Annotate? Illustrations such as charts, graphs, and diagrams: Circle titles. If title is absent write one. Summarize next to the illustration.

18 What System of Notation Should You Use?
Highlighting material is not just underlining; it is also circling, starring, numbering, and generally making an effort to put the material into perspective visually. What you can’t do is nothing.

19 Sample annotation Main Idea Word that you must be able to define
Supporting material or definition Numbering of supporting ideas under main Idea Possible exam question Didn’t understand must seek advice Notes in the margin Study guide questions, statements or terms in the margin Indicates a relationship Adapted from: Academic Resource Center, Study Skills Instruction Module, Text Book Reading Skills. Graphic created by: Penny Findlay, Academic Resource Center.

20 This is ACTIVE listening.
Part 2: Note Taking You will spend 12 to 18 hours in class every week. You must find an effective note taking strategy to concentrate on and record information for later review. This is ACTIVE listening.

21 Develop a system Note taking ISN’T just writing down what your professor says in class. Note taking IS a process that involves your active involvement and concentration: BEFORE DURING and AFTER class.

22 Before Class: Get prepared.
Complete any reading or written assignments. Print and read instructor-provided lecture notes. Write down any questions you want answered by the lecture. Prepare your note taking materials (Cornell pages).

23 During Class: Use good listening and note-taking techniques.
Sit as close to the front as possible. Arrive early to get a good seat. Listen for signal words, and watch for cues. Concentrate on the lecture; (ask questions). Record notes. Mark prepared notes. Use chapter notes if applicable.

24 After Class: Deep Learning.
Review and condense your notes within 24 hours. Recite aloud the answers or information triggered by the key terms, questions, or statements you have written. Create a written summary of your notes. Frequently review and recite the information.

25 Sample Cornell Note page
Image from:

26 Cornell Note-taking Method
Developed by Dr. Walter Pauk, a Cornell University professor. Is an effective means for reviewing and organizing your notes into an effective study guide. This is ACTIVE learning

27 There are five stages involved in the Cornell note-taking method.
Record Reduce Recite Reflect Review

28 Let’s Visit the ARC website

29 Practical Exercise Everyone make a blank template and continue taking notes in this lecture using the Cornell Method. This is one way to do it. Another suggested in the manual is to have a visiting lecture and a third might be to have the students watch a video. Here are some good video resources: Here is a particularly good lecture on the Fear of Death

30 Prepare to record your notes as in the diagram.
Stage 1: RECORD Prepare to record your notes as in the diagram. Include diagrams, illustrations, and questions/answers provided by the professor during his/her lecture. You don’t have to use this method, but… YOU CAN’T DO NOTHING

31 Stage 2: REDUCE As soon after class as you can, review and condense your notes in the recall column.

32 The Ebbinghaus Curve If you do not review new information within hours, percent of information is forgotten after the first exposure to the information. Adapted from Wong, L. (2008). Essential study skills. Wadsworth. p. 272.

33 Stage 2: REDUCE Reviewing notes within 24 hours and frequently thereafter will greatly reduce the amount of material you forget. Without consistent reviews, you will actually have to relearn the information before a test. Relearning information in a short amount of time increases your anxiety and decreases your ability to perform. Adapted from Wong, L. (2008). Essential study skills. Wadsworth. p. 272.

34 Reduce Notes Step 1: Write key words and phrases to summarize main points of the lecture. Step 2: Clarify unclear ideas or examples. Step 3: Develop potential test questions. Step 4: Summarize the lecture in your own words.

35 Stage 3: RECITE Cover up the right-hand column where you recorded your notes, and use the key words, phrases, and questions in the recall column to review the information. Put your answers in your own words as much as possible. If you have difficulty recalling the information successfully, do another review of your lecture notes.

36 Stage 4: REFLECT Reread your notes and think about them.
Read your text to supplement and clarify your notes. This helps you to become a more active, critical thinker.

37 Stage 5: REVIEW Briefly review your notes several times per week to retain what you have learned. This “distributed review,” keeps information fresh and decreases your chances of forgetting. Sources: Saunders, L. & N. Call. Your Utah State Experience. IA: Kendall/Hunt (Incl. Alsop, TJ. Principles of Physical Geography: An introduction to Natural Phenomena. IA: Kendall/Hunt References: USU Academic Resource Center, Idea Sheet, “Note-Taking: Cornell Method.” Longman , D.G., & R.H. Atkinson. College Learning and Study Skills. CA: Wadsworth

38 Using Instructor Prepared Notes
Instructors may make notes available on Blackboard/Vista/Canvas. Some notes might be available for purchase in the Bookstore, use them. They are not intended as a substitute for a student’s class attendance. Fill in prepared notes with missing info from lectures. Create a study guide with symbols, underlining and annotation.

39 Using Instructor Prepared Notes
Use a pen that will clearly mark the information. *, !, or ____________ = instructor's important points. Mark concepts for follow-up. ? = do not understand. Follow up with text, SI, or instructor office hours. : or  = cause and effect, results. ( ), [ ], circles and squares to group information. EX to note examples from the lecture. Add drawings and charts to illustrate.

40 Using Instructor Prepared Notes
Review your notes within 24 hours. Review again within a few days to store in long-term memory

41 Using Instructor Prepared Notes

42 Part 3: Test Preparation
Test preparation involves a purposeful effort to develop a strong understanding of the course material. You cannot rely on simply looking over your notes or trying to memorize pieces of information. Learning is not the same as memorizing. You must be able to apply your knowledge to problems, examples, issues, or situations that were not discussed in class or in your texts. The ability to use knowledge in new situations requires study activities different from memorizing. This is ACTIVE learning

43 Organizational Strategies
These strategies help you connect material to your prior knowledge and aid you in seeing the connections between different ideas and materials.

44 Concept Maps List the key ideas, concepts, terms, and facts from chapter. Arrange in a hierarchy from most inclusive to least inclusive. Draw lines showing connections between the items. Label each line to show the connection. If you start a concept map and discover a better way to organize the material, do not be afraid to start over.

45 Concept Maps

46 Concept Map Practice Scientists pursuing supermassive black holes suspect that these giants merge somewhere in the universe roughly once a year, but they don't know how to find them. They think the evidence is hidden in the powerful gravitational waves and strong bursts of electromagnetic radiation created when the black holes collide. Using computer models, astrophysicists from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, are tracing electromagnetic signatures back to the impact. They are creating a detailed blueprint that will guide other scientists searching for merging black holes, using ordinary visible light and existing telescopes. Simulated models of these mergers will also aid the discovery of gravitational waves, confirming a key prediction of Einstein's general theory of relativity. From Astronomy Magazine Use a passage that is something you are excited about.

47 Charts Useful for depicting many kinds of information.

48 Matrices Display information where two or more topics are to be compared. List the topics you want to compare along the top of the chart. List the characteristics you want to use to compare them along the side. List the defining characteristics for each topic.

49 Matrices

50 Matrices We see this all the time:

51 Outlines You do not have to use formal outlining techniques.
Develop your own style of organizing the material in a hierarchical structure. If the textbook provides an outline, expand on it to make it your own. YOU CAN’T DO NOTHING

52 Outlines Do not copy text from the book, but paraphrase material in your own words. Integrate material from the readings, lecture, and discussions into one outline.

53 Summaries Powerful way to remember the material
Write without referring back to the reading. Being unable to do this indicates a deficit. Fix it. Summaries take practice. include enough information to capture the argument or significant points, but do not copy the text (plagiarism)

54 Summaries Tips for writing summaries:
Eliminate trivial and redundant information. Use lists. A summary might be a list. Be discerning about what you include Too much detail will not be helpful. Restate the topic sentences in your own words. If a text does not provide topic sentences, then write your own.

55 Flashcards In courses where there are large amounts of FACTUAL information, the use of flashcards may be helpful. Kinds of material that might be considered appropriate for flashcards are vocabulary words, formulas, equations, definitions, dates, names, etc.

56 Flashcards Are conveniently carried Can be reviewed frequently.
Short reviews are more effective. Writing down of the material on the cards is an aid to memory in itself.

57 Hints for making flash cards:
Choose the most important facts or concepts from each chapter you read or lecture you attend. Use your own words unless a specific definition is required. Label the cards with a subject heading and date, so you’ll be able to put them into categories for various types of quizzes and tests.

58 Examples: Put terms on one side with definitions and examples on the other side. Place types of math problems on one side with examples on the other side. Draw an illustration on one side with an arrow pointing to the part you need to know and place the answer on the other side.

59 Flashcard Example

60 Flashcard Example

61 Flashcard Example

62 Venn Diagrams Graphic organizers are powerful ways to help understand complex ideas. By using even a basic Venn diagram, you can recognize complex relationships.

63 Venn Diagram Example

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