Books, Culture and Society

Fostering Effective Learning with Textbooks

The goal of any college course is to further a student's education, regardless of whether the subject matter will be used "in real life" at a later time. Textbooks have long been a mainstay as course requirements in order to foster effective learning.

Fostering Effective Learning with Textbooks

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The goal of any college course is to further a student’s education, regardless of whether the subject matter will be used “in real life” at a later time. Textbooks have long been a mainstay as course requirements in order to foster effective learning. Book authors are seasoned experts in their fields, and substantial time is devoted to writing the detailed material in each book according to proven teaching methods. A direct connection can easily be established between students’ final course grades and whether they purchased as well as read the required book.

At the beginning of a new semester, college students have several easily-available resources for their textbooks. Many campus bookstores are now offering textbook rental programs as well as books to be purchased. If a certain text is not offered as a rental, a few websites also offer a selection of books to be rented and returned by mail at the semester’s end. If students wish to buy their textbooks ahead of time and the bookstore does not yet have them, a polite email asking their professors for a list of required texts is a simple and effective solution.

Some students believe they will be able to skip buying the necessary book and figure out the course material from lecture notes and from various websites. This tactic nearly always ends up being a costly mistake in terms of grade point average. Material covered in lectures can differ from the text or offer only generalizations while the book delves into deeper detail. Likewise, the validity of online information can vary widely. The best bet for knowing the correct information that appears on exams is to buy or rent the correct book and keep up with all assigned readings.

Once the textbooks have been purchased, the level of the reading material may seem daunting at first. This situation is one in which reading notes are an additional tool. The best method for this type of reading is to take small sections at a time and write down any terms or passages that appear confusing. Not only does this study method offer convenient reference material for asking questions, it is a vital component of active reading versus merely skimming the text.

Students who wish to enlist the help of their school’s tutoring center are usually asked to bring their textbook, reading notes, and any questions about the material. Some who have tried to take shortcuts are initially surprised at this requirement. Obtaining a college education entails a good deal of responsibility for one’s own learning, and the first necessary step in this process is use of the prescribed textbook.

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