Posts Tagged ‘study methods’


December 16, 2009

The mnemonic techniques posted thusfar on this blog have dealt primarily with learning arbitrary associations.  For example, the posting on learning the Bill of Rights by the number of each right.  Although the Bill of Rights is certainly meaningful, the number associated with each right is not.  Similarly the posting on foreign vocabulary.  Although these words initially will become meaningful at the outset they are arbitrary sounds.  So these techniques provide strategies for converting material that is initially not meaningful into something meaningful and memorable.

 However, when the material you are trying to learn is inherently meaningful, you want to capitalize on that meaning and store they key information so that it is easily remembered.  SQ3R is a proven technique for mastering school coursework and other meaningful information.  SQ3R stands for Survey, Query, Read, Recite, and Review.  Here is how the technique would be applied to a reading assignment you might be given or to reading material you wanted to understand and master.

Survey refers to paging through the material to gather what is being covered and how it is organized.  You will encounter books that use what are termed advanced organizers that describe the topics that are going to be covered.  So you are conducting an initial survey of the information.  Sometimes when you are doing research on a topic this initial survey might indicate to you that it did not contain the information you were seeking, or you did not like the organization of the material, that you already knew this material, or that the material was being presented at either a too advanced or a too elementary a level.  When this is the case and the reading is not required, you can stop here.

 However, if the material appears to meet your needs, or if it is required reading,  the next step is to query, ask questions that you hope will be answered in the material.  Actually, you will encounter texts that do this for you.  They will state that at the end of the chapter you should know this, this, and this.  But if this is not done for you, and it usually is not, then it is good for you to construct questions like this before you start reading.

The next step is to read the material.  This must be done by you.  And you want to read it at a speed governed by the organization you gathered during your survey and by questions you generated during your query.  Do not hesitate to reread sections that are not clear.  Do not just read straight through without considering the organization of  the material or the questions you want answered.

The next step is to recite, that is to try to recall the important points from the text from memory.  When you cannot recall something go back and look for it in the text and make an effort to store the meaning in memory.  This recitation is not a one shot thing.  It should be done repeatedly.  Many students remain being poor students because they simply reread material or mark it with a highlighter and do not practice retrieving the information from memory.  Multiple retrieval attempts are important and it is beneficial if you space these retrieval attempts further and further apart.

The final step is review.  This is a matter of reviewing the material and not only putting it in the organizational structure of the material you are reading, but relating it to the larger body of information you know.  These 3Rs are to be repeated many times until you have mastered the material to the desired level.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.