Tips for Graduate Study: How to Read an Academic Textbook

Tips for Graduate Study: How to Read an Academic Textbook.

Hello and welcome back!  My name is Dr. Cheryl Lentz, owner of The Refractive Thinker® Press. Today our focus is on Tips for Graduate Study: How to Read an Academic Textbook.

When you begin any class, let me invite you to spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the specific learning outcomes and course objectives for which the textbooks have been selected for your course.  Perhaps simply sit with your syllabus and your textbook(s) one afternoon and look at the overall course for the big picture.  Review the bullet points in your syllabus for the main points, week-by-week, and then review the Table of Contents for each of your textbooks.  Our goal is merely to get an initial feel for your course content that will be covered in the coming weeks.

Our next step is to begin your first week’s readings. We will begin with the end in mind. Most academic textbooks offer (1) a summary in narrative form, (2) bullet points or definition of terms for understanding, and (3) discussion questions that highlight the important elements that the text authors intend for the student to learn.  By reading with the end in mind, you know where you need to end up.

Next, review the titles and subheadings within your specific chapter.  Again our goal is to now dig deeper to one additional level of detail.  By reviewing your chapter titles and subheadings, as well as any graphs, charts, or pictures, you now get a deeper sense of understanding with regard to your big picture take aways.

The final step is to now to go back and read the chapter in detail.  By reviewing the big picture framework, you now have a much firmer sense of the important content both your text authors and your course intends for you to learn.

A few final tips for you to consider.  First, limit your study sessions to only 20 or 30 minute sessions.  Research shows that shorter study sessions are far more effective –learning in short bursts—than long marathon sessions.  You’ll retain far more with more efficient effort.  Remember to work smarter, not harder.

You may also want to consider reviewing your homework assignments before beginning your reading.  If you have a paper to write for example, then you will be able to keep the writing objectives within the forefront of your reading efforts.

Congratulations on designing an effective study plan for your academic journey. By creating these individual systems, you are on your way to more effective use of your time with more effective learning outcomes for your efforts.

For more tips on effective academic writing and studying, please visit me at my blog at  Thank you for joining me.  My name is Dr. Cheryl Lentz and I hope you find these suggestions within this video helpful. Good luck to you in your academic writing pursuits.  Cheers!


With respect,


Dr. Cheryl Lentz

Chief Refractive Thinker®
The Refractive Thinker® Press, where discriminating scholars publish.

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February 19th, 2011 by admin

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