Textbook Appreh... Comprehension

It’s 11:00 at night and you’re just starting that 40-page reading assignment for Chemistry class tomorrow morning at 8:00 (and you have an i-Clicker Quiz over the reading). You get two pages in and you realize you have no idea what you have just read. You read it from the start again; same thing – nothing. So, you decide that doing poorly on just this one i-Clicker Quiz won’t completely ruin your GPA , and you hit the pillow. Now, considering the situation, this was  probably the right choice to make. (Click here to feel good about indulging in that extra hour of sleep rather than studying.) And I don’t say that just to rationalize that I,  might have been in this position once or twice…

So, the first thing to fix is to get some sleep. You already know that. If you need evidence, “google it” or read the above hyperlinked article. Essentially, you actually learning the lesson material in your classes the next day is worth possibly losing 5 points on that one i-Clicker Quiz; just don’t make a habit out of this. Thus, why you’re reading this post.

Second, it’s all about attitude. I often don’t enjoy reading my Chemistry assignments, but I have a much better attitude towards it if I do the following:
  • Start reading before 11:00 PM, preferably even before 10:00 PM – Yes, another plug about sleep.
  • Find the parts about the subject I do like and relate them to the rest of the things I must read and learn
  • Understand prior reading before plowing forward

It can still be hard to find a genuine interest or positive attitude even when being reminded of these things. So, I also suggest you study with other students and get their perspectives on things. Feeling the need to contribute to a study group will help drive your reading prior to that discussion, so that you don’t look – ummm – “ill-prepared,” for lack of kinder words. Also, you just may find a student who legitimately is a Chemistry enthusiast, which will only help share the good feelings and joy with the rest of the group J If you’re still feeling at a loss, talk to your TA or professor. They will have enough experience to give you some ideas of the long-term perspective to keep in mind as a motivational force for consistent effort.

Finally, try the following handy tools and ideas as you continue reading:

Marking/Side Notes


Vocabulary definitions in your own words

Survey and skim the material before jumping in

Associations that help you understand concepts

Questions you need answered before and during

Principles, rules, and lists

Read looking for answers and different questions

Similarities and differences

Recite and summarize small sections of reading

Experiments and key events of discovery or impact

Reflect and connect with what you already know

Illustrations and diagrams

Review soon and regularly

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