Reading and Memory Strategies for Sociology
Reading strategies for sociology include understanding textbook organization, looking for major ideas and emphases, SQ3R, learning vocabulary, margin notes, and study questions.
Sociology texts are often arranged topically or chronologically, the latter in terms of processes or history. Chronological formats, in particular, often require that one read early chapters in order to fully understand later chapters. Pay attention to section headings, subheadings, and italicized words (C. Krause, CAL).
Major Ideas and Emphasis
Sociology readings often stress particular theories with supporting evidence. Be careful not to confuse what is fact and what is theory or opinion (C. Krause, CAL).
The SQ3R approach is a five-step process to reading: survey the assignment, form questions on the material, read one section, recite the main points in the section, and review the entire assignment when all sections are completed. This strategy works well for both textbook chapters as well as research articles in sociology (M. Hartman, CAL).
Pay close attention to terms and concepts introduced in the readings. Familiar words may have new and specialized meanings in the context of sociology, so readers must be careful (C. Krause, CAL).
Instead of highlighting when reading, students might find it useful to record notes from the readings in the margins of the assignment. Many textbooks and journals leave adequately wide margins for writing key terms, names, concepts, dates, and other important information or questions about each section or subsection (M. Hartman, CAL).
Some instructors provide study questions over the readings. Most textbooks have review questions at the end of each chapter. And in some cases, workbooks with study questions are available. For some students, it will most useful to do the reading first, in order to get an overall understanding of the material, and then to consider the details of the answers. For other students, however, looking over the study questions first is more helpful because it focuses their reading. Students should select the approach that most enhances reading comprehension (M. Hartman, CAL).
Repititous review of sociology information aids in registration to and recall from long-term memory. Reread the lecture notes within 24 to 48 hours of class, and weekly after that. Resurvey the reading assignments periodically (M. Hartman, CAL).
Elaboration is a memory strategy that involves creating a relationship between two or more items of information. Visual elaborations are effective and involve linking the information to visual images. Visual elaboration works well for remembering sociology lists or terms and definitions. The list items or the key words in the definitions are linked with visual images (M. Hartman, CAL). An example of an elaborated sociology vocabulary term is shown below.