Reading the Text Book

Great ways to get the most out of your book without having to
Lizzie, College Sophomore
Sierra College, Rocklin, CA

The site gives very good tips on how to read biology textbooks in the most effective and least time-consuming way. I especially like the part about "pre-reading the textbook." Most of the time, the professors will tell their students to read the chapter before coming to class. To most people, the task seems to be so overwhelming they decide to ignore it because "the teacher is going to talk about it anyway, so why bother?" The more dedicated but inexperienced students would try to read and understand every word in the chapter before going to the lecture and end up not having enough time to do homework or review the last chapter. Because of that, the tips about pre-reading are very helpful and reassuring. Instead of spending hours trying to understand something that may be not very important, a student can easily gasp the big picture of the whole chapter in 20-30 minutes. That is very good preparation for understanding lectures and all the little details that are important but require time and repetition for students to "digest."

Personally, I think one can force himself to memorize some material to pass a test. However, he can't really force himself to remember it for a long period of time if he is not fascinated with it or if he does not find it useful or relevant to what he is interested in. Thus, the strategy about forming questions and trying to answer them along with the reading is really useful. It engages a student to the material, helping him find out the purposes of the chapter, how pieces of information are related to each other, and how relevant they are to the subject. Because of that, the information does not only remain longer in his memory but is also better understood by the student because many parts of his brain have engaged in the process of "digesting the information.

There is one small point about "marking the textbook" tips that I do not really agree with. One of the tips says that one should not highlight or underline sections of the text. It is time-consuming, distracting and uninformative."" This tip is somehow biased in term of learning preferences. Most visual learners would find highlighting or underlining sentences in the text very helpful because they are more easily impressed by colors or differences in appearance. They remember the information associated with appealing appearance more effectively. Therefore, highlighting and underlining can really help a student read a textbook better if applied appropriately based on learning preferences.

How to read and understand a text book
Kelsey Henderson
Austin Community College, Texas

I thought this was a good way of how to read a textbook. It gave strategies on how to pick out the main topics and how to understand what you are reading.

Reading the Textbook: Alberts Et Al. Molecular Biology of the Cell
Adam Koons
Semmelweis University/Sierra College, Budapest, HU / Rocklin, CA

Though I am unfamiliar with Campbell's Biology, I used similar techniques to study "Molecular Biology of the Cell". The technique I found most valuable was the chapter preview, with a focus on terminology. Knowing and understanding the language structure of Biological terminology greatly helped my understanding of the difficult text. Terminology review and understanding were especially helpful when dealing with enzymes and proteins (since many have working titles). By knowing the naming scheme, I would already have some idea of an enzyme's function when I first encounter it. For example when I come across "Ca++/calmodulin-dependent protein kinases" for the first time, I already have some knowledge of the enzyme function by breaking down the name. This technique allows me to use the protein name to increase my conceptual understanding, whereas stopping to memorize each protein name would detract from my conceptual understanding.

The other techniques listed in this article are sound. Though the "Marking the textbook" suggestions might be helpful for someone that does not already have an effective system for in book notation, I prefer another method.

Thank you for publishing these useful techniques and suggestions. This website is a valuable resource.

Valerie Gurrola, College Freshman
Austin Community Collage, Round Rock, TX

Getting familiar with the text and chapters I think will help me out. Biology is so hard to read out of the book!


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