Previewing Chapters from Science Texts
Previewing science chapters before reading them enhances comprehension and retention of the material (D. Hurst, CAL). This process helps one to create a "mental map" that is used as the reader moves through the text. The mental map encompasses the general structure of the reading and is used to guide the student as he/she reads. By mentally linking the textual clues, the student is better able to follow the flow of ideas in the reading and to detect the relationships among pieces of information.
Previewing a Chapter
Read the title of the chapter first. This serves to activate general knowledge of the subject.
Then read the headings and subheadings in the chapter. This serves to divide the material into logical learning units and activates specific prior knowledge.
Look over charts, graphs, diagrams, and other illustrations. Be sure to read captions and labels.
Make a note of unfamiliar terms and look up their definitions. Most science texts have glossaries of terms and definitions at the end of the book.
Read the chapter summary. The summary tells the reader what ideas the author thought were important.
Look over the questions at the end of the chapter. The questions usually cover the most important information in the chapter.
Write down any concepts, definitions, and terms that are unclear or confusing. If, after the instructor has lectured on this material, you still don't understand the information, seek help from the instructor, student assistant, or a tutor.
As Your Read the Text
Avoid using highlighters the first time through the text. Use a pen or pencil to take notes in the margins instead.
If you feel the absolute need to highlight, do so on the second time through the chapter, after the instructor has lectured on the material. At this point you should have a much better feel for what is important. Only the most important information should be highlighted.
If example problems are given, which is often the case in physical science books, attempt to work them out on your own. If you can't solve the problems, go back and read the text again, then retry the problems. Again, seek help if you are lost. Book sample problems are typically less difficult than problems on a quiz or test.