Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Embedded Hints Improve Learning

Can we assume that our students come to us already knowing how to read a book? Probably. 

Can we assume that they know how to effectively read and use a textbook? Probably not.

Really? you may wonder. What's special about reading a textbook?

Technically detailed textbooks such as science textbooks are not much like books of popular literature. One cannot just sit down and read a chapter of a health science textbook from start to finish—like you would with a novel—and expect to have learned much. And whatever you did comprehend would probably disappear from your brain by day's end.

No, college reading experts tell us that students must use reading strategies to comprehend what they read in a textbook. But I see that my students come to me without any such strategies or skills. They've gotten by without them until they hit their anatomy and physiology textbook, then wonder why the textbook doesn't seem to be helping them much. Then they limp along on class notes only—missing out on the deeper learning possible with the complementary material in the textbook.

I was an excellent reader when I was an undergraduate. Looking back, however, I realize that I didn't use any special strategies—and I didn't really get a whole lot out of my hours of textbook reading. Not compared to what happens now when I do technical reading employing some of the proven strategies to increase my reading comprehension of technical scientific works.

So what to do? Spend a week teaching our students how to read their textbooks? After getting some training ourselves in college reading strategies?

I've provided a better option in The Human Body in Health & Disease,

To guide students step by step through an effective reading strategy, I've embedded a series of hints that tell students exactly what to do to learn from their textbooks more effectively—and by spending less total study time.

Some of these strategies I've discussed here in previous posts. For example, I've already walked you through the word-study approach to reading vocabulary.

Take a look at any chapter in The Human Body in Health & Disease, to see the embedded hints clearly marked with the Hint icon. If you don't have a copy, just go to this link and request a free review copy now!

Then let's help our students by advising them to follow the directions in the hints to get the most out of their health science textbooks—and reduce their total study time!

Adapted from Anatomy & Physiology

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