Effective Textbook Use

May 30, 2022

Effective Textbook Use

When using a textbook for your course, it is easy to lean on it as the main source of all course material. However, when it comes to assigning reading, it can be a bit too tempting to assign whole textbook chapters. Textbooks are not written to be read like a novel; they function much better like an encyclopedia. Since the writing and the content in a standard textbook are not structured to be read cover-to-cover, the rate of learners completing the reading tend to be low. Below, we outline a few more problems with textbook reading assignments, as well as some solutions that you can implement in your courses today. It is the content of the course that should be challenging for learners, not the methods of engagement.

The problem with assigning whole chapters:Stacked Textbooks

  • The style of textbook writing can add to the density of the topic, which may result in learners disengaging.
  • Does not model for learners how experts utilize collections of information.
  • Does not encourage active engagement with course materials.
  • Learners who are not strong readers may give up early or not try at all because it is a daunting task.

The solution:

  • Model using a textbook as a reference source.
  • Provide active learning activities in class that require using the textbook as a reference source.
  • Prompt learners, especially those who may not be strong readers, to use the textbook during lectures to highlight content, and make outlines.

Remember: with any learning material, you want your learners to not only actively use it, but when possible, you should model how an expert might use these materials to master the learning objectives and succeed in assessments.

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