Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Reading Better with SQ3R
I'm a fan of Mindtools.com. I try to hit them up once a month or so for some great ideas about living life more effectively. I will be posting a couple great excerpts from that site below. First, I want to brag about "On Becoming a Man." We've finally finished the editing of the audio book and sent the files to be reviewed. The final time is roughly 1 hour and 48 minutes, with just shy of 200 chapters. Lots of work but the results will blow you away. So without further delay... From http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newISS_02.htm#np SQ3R is an acronym that stands for five steps... Survey. Question. Read. Recall. Review. Step 1: Survey Start by skimming through the material you've identified, to decide if it will be useful and to get an overview of the topic. For example, if you've selected a book, scan the contents, introduction, chapter introductions, and chapter summaries to pick up an overview of the text. For a website, look at the "breadcrumbs," which indicate the relative location of pages within the site. (If breadcrumbs are used, they're usually at the top of the page.) Also use the menus or the site map to see where the article sits within the overall structure of the site. Then, look at typographical elements of the text, such as italics, bold words, subheadings, and boxed text. These often point to words or ideas that are important. Last, explore any images, maps, charts, or diagrams that are embedded in the text. Use these clues to decide whether this text will give you the information you're looking for. If it doesn't meet your needs, look for a different information source. Step 2: Question Now note down any questions that you may have about the subject. These could be the questions that led you to read it in the first place, or ones that you thought of during your survey. Also, think about what else you want to achieve from this reading. What do you need to find out from this material? What are you most interested in learning? And how will this information help you? When you question the material, you engage your mind and prepare it for learning. You're far more likely to retain information when you're actively looking for it. Step 3: Read Now read the document, one section at a time. Make a note of anything that you don't understand – you can use these notes later on, when you explore related materials. You may find that this read-through takes more time than you expect, especially if the information is dense or complex. Keep yourself focused by turning every subheading or chapter title into a question that you must answer before you move on. For example, you could turn the subtitle, "The Advantages of SQ3R" into the question, "What are the advantages of SQ3R?" and run through the answer in your mind before you move onto the next part of the text. Step 4: Recall Once you've read the appropriate sections of the document, run through it in your mind several times. Identify the important points, and then work out how other information fits around them. Then, go back to your questions from Step 2, and try to answer them from memory. Only turn back to the text if you're unable to answer a question this way. Step 5: Review Once you can recall the information, you can start to review it. First, reread the document or your notes. This is especially important if you don't feel confident that you've understood all of the information. Then discuss the material with someone else – this is a highly effective method of reviewing information. Explain what you have just learned as comprehensively as you can, and do your best to put the information into a context that's meaningful for your team, organization, or industry. Finally, schedule regular reviews of the material to keep it fresh in your mind. Do this after a week, after a month, and after several months – this helps to embed the material into your long-term memory. There's a lot more at the source so follow the link above. The next article I want to highlight is http://www.mindtools.com/mnemlsty.html#np Felder and Silverman's Index of Learning Styles One of the most widely used models of learning styles is the Index of Learning Styles developed by Richard Felder and Linda Silverman in the late 1980s. According to this model (which Felder revised in 2002) there are four dimensions of learning styles. Think of these dimensions as a continuum with one learning preference on the far left and the other on the far right. Figure 1 – Learning Styles Index Figure 2: Bringing Your Learning Styles into Balance Sensory Learners – if you rely too much on sensing, you can tend to prefer what is familiar, and concentrate on facts you know instead of being innovative and adapting to new situations. Seek out opportunities to learn theoretical information and then bring in facts to support or negate these theories. Intuitive Learners – if you rely too much on intuition you risk missing important details, which can lead to poor decision-making and problem solving. Force yourself to learn facts or memorize data that will help you defend or criticize a theory or procedure you are working with. You may need to slow down and look at detail you would otherwise typically skim. Visual Learners – if you concentrate more on pictorial or graphical information than on words, you put yourself at a distinct disadvantage because verbal and written information is still the main preferred choice for delivery of information. Practice your note taking and seek out opportunities to explain information to others using words. Verbal Learners – when information is presented in diagrams, sketches, flow charts, and so on, it is designed to be understood quickly. If you can develop your skills in this area you can significantly reduce time spent learning and absorbing information. Look for opportunities to learn through audio-visual presentations (such as video and Webcasts.) When making notes, group information according to concepts and then create visual links with arrows going to and from them. Take every opportunity you can to create charts and tables and diagrams. Active Learners – if you act before you think you are apt to make hasty and potentially ill-informed judgments. You need to concentrate on summarizing situations, and taking time to sit by yourself to digest information you have been given before jumping in and discussing it with others. Reflective Learners – if you think too much you risk doing nothing. There comes a time when a decision has to be made or an action taken. Involve yourself in group decision-making whenever possible and try to apply the information you have in as practical a manner as possible. Sequential Learners – when you break things down into small components you are often able to dive right into problem solving. This seems to be advantageous but can often be unproductive. Force yourself to slow down and understand why you are doing something and how it is connected to the overall purpose or objective. Ask yourself how your actions are going to help you in the long run. If you can't think of a practical application for what you are doing then stop and do some more "big picture" thinking. Global Learners – if grasping the big picture is easy for you, then you can be at risk of wanting to run before you can walk. You see what is needed but may not take the time to learn how best to accomplish it. Take the time to ask for explanations, and force yourself to complete all problem-solving steps before coming to a conclusion or making a decision. If you can't explain what you have done and why, then you may have missed critical details.