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Learning how to read, the university way

by Catherine Dube October 25, 2016
Learning how to read, the university way

Concordia holds workshop aimed to help students retain the information they read

Concordia’s Student Success Centre hosted a workshop on Oct. 18 to help students make the most of their assigned readings.

Juliet Dunphy, the manager of Concordia’s Student Learning Services, said retention and proper understanding are common problems for students when it comes to class readings.  She explored tips on how to read and retain textbook material.

“I think students get overwhelmed with the amount of reading they have to do and get discouraged when they don’t remember what they read,” Dunphy told The Concordian. “Reading then becomes a chore, and they equate reading with the time they spent on reading something rather than with how much they actually learned from it.”

The Student Success Centre, located on the fourth floor of the Hall building, has the tools to keep students on track.

“Get the big picture, read actively and selectively, review after by talking [aloud] through [the chapter] or by making notes in your own words,” said Dunphy.  “These steps will help the reader move that information into long-term memory rather than losing it from short-term memory.”

According to Dunphy, an important part of reading and remembering is getting the big picture before you start reading. “[Students] need to get a preview of the whole thing before [they] start to read,” she said. To get a preview, Dunphy said students can flip through the chapter beforehand to get a gist of the content from titles and subtitles. Drawing a map of the chapter this way can be a useful way of getting the big picture.

“Studies show that if you do this preview and then you read the chapter, you actually retain more than if you read the chapter in-depth twice,” Dunphy said, adding that this is “because of our brain’s affinity to seeing the big picture.”

Dunphy stressed the importance of talking to oneself while going through the readings. “We need to get into a routine of questioning what we’re going to read,” she said. She suggested students quiz themselves as they read, in other words, read actively. This way, students can keep themselves in check, and test whether or not they are actually understanding the concepts. “As you’re reading, you’re going to be talking to yourself in your head, in terms of answering the question you’ve come up with.”

Finally, students need to review what they read—right after and later on. This will help students retain the information longer, said Dunphy.

Concordia’s Student Learning Services host more than 200 workshops every year, according to Concordia’s website. “The workshops are important because they give students another way of looking at a skill they might have been using for a while, yet updating that skill in a new way in order to make it a more effective way to study,” Dunphy said.

Graphic by Thom Bell

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