Bircham International University
How to study the books?
Now that you have the books...
How do you get started?
You have received the textbooks and the assignments instructions...
You are sitting at your desk and then what? More info...
1. QUICK REVIEW "Text 1"
Start your home study reading the book listed as "Text 1" without concentrating too much on the details. Get a general idea of its contents, and then apply the reading and comprehension techniques explained in this guide (for instance, highlighting central ideas). At times, if you find a concept hard to understand, keep reading – your doubts will probably clear up on the following pages.
TIP: Exploratory reading & goals.
Begin familiarizing yourself with the text by first assessing the length of the chapter, going through titles, charts, bold text, and so on. Try to determine what the structure of the book is and then calculate how much time it will take you to read it in order to establish weekly study goals. Remember: be realistic in your assessment of time and goals for your home study. If you set up objectives that are impossible to reach, you will be frustrated and discouraged.
2. KEY CONCEPTS & TABLE OF CONTENTS
While you read, take notes on the ideas that catch your attention, on the relationships between different concepts and how they compare and contrast to your personal opinions. Instead of memorizing the goal is to end your reading with a written index of main concepts. This written record should not just summarize or sketch the book's main issues, but rather reflect the interaction between those concepts and your own thinking; in other words, a record of how you interpret the points of the book. As you read on and write down your thoughts and opinions, consider how to match these key concepts with your own experience in order to improve the quality of your personal and professional life. Take a brief note of this as well.
TIP: Differentiate what you know from what you do not know.
Take notes about what you already know about the subject under study and what you can learn by reading it. This exercise will prepare you to better associate the newly acquired concepts with those already established. Maintaining clear study objectives will increase your memory and comprehension capacity. Always explore the chapters that come before and after the one being studied. If you develop a broader perspective of the context of the chapter under study, your brain will assimilate concepts faster and more efficiently. If you still have doubts, keep reading. They will surely clear up in the coming pages.
3. ANALYTIC READING "Text 1"
Once you have finished the quickly exploratory reading of the text, read it paragraph by paragraph classifying them according to their degree of difficulty. If a paragraph has been easy to understand write an exclamation mark ( ! ) on its margin; if you have understood it evenly but it seems a little dense, write an "X" on its margin. Finally, if you have not understood what you have read because the paragraph is too complex, write instead a question mark ( ? ) on the margin. Once you have classified all the paragraphs in the chapter, approach the text again in the following way: First, read all the "X" paragraphs, and then read all the "?" paragraphs: you will then realize all the "?" paragraphs do not seem as difficult or complex as they did previously. You may even wonder why you did not understand them in your first reading.
4. REPORT DRAFT WRITING "Text 1"
Use the notes taken during step 2 and develop those key concepts in writing and try to explain them in a coherent and organized style. Base your report on your notes and avoid opening the book as much as possible except for quick and specific reference or data (figures, dates, etc.) that you find hard to remember.
TIP: Draw a Summary Chart.
Focus on organizing ideas, concepts, and formulas in chart form. This will give you the basic structure for the table of contents you will have to present on the first pages of your required academic work.
5. REVIEW READING "Text 1"
Review Text 1 again, concentrating on the sections highlighted during the previous reading. Contrast the explanations from your report draft with the explanations provided in the text. Analyze any differences found and sharpen your comprehension of each key point. Now you are ready to work out the final report and you have to decide what you will or will not include in order to meet the 20-35 pages limit.
TIP: Review Reading
Reread everything and write an asterisk ( * ) on the margin of more relevant paragraphs; write "V" in those paragraphs in which you have encountered new terms and vocabulary. It is always easier to remember a word in its context. When you underline words and parts of the text, you are preparing it for summary and memorization, not for assimilation and understanding.
6. FINAL REPORT WRITING "Text 1"
Each author has different goals when writing a book, thus each text is different. It is your task to decide what is important and what is secondary. At times, the text will only need to be summarized, while at others, it will require a more elaborate conceptualization. After reading a very long and information-packed chapter, you might just end up with a few important ideas, whereas reading an apparently simple chapter might trigger an elaborate report full of personal comments and ideas. In conclusion, what matters are the concepts you decide to develop, not the all data contained in the textbook. This is precisely what must be clearly shown in your report, what Bircham International University most values, and what will imprint the key concepts permanently in your mind.
TIP: Apply and review what you have learned.
Comment on, practice, and develop what you have learned. While studying at home and reading, it is important to develop one's own criteria. Integrate those ideas and review all your summaries before going to bed. Serotonin is produced and released in higher amounts during sleep, so you will assimilate concepts better before going to bed.
7. REPEAT THIS PROCESS: "Text 2" and so on...
Continue your home study with the succeeding texts and reports as they appear on the Academic Evaluation Form (AE Form). The established order is not open to discussion because each book complements the following one, and following this order, you will discard many of the doubts that might otherwise emerge along the way.
For further assistance in your home study, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Tips for effective home study. More info...
The use of published textbooks.
Bircham International University programs employ a remarkable bibliographic selection of published textbooks. BIU prefers to use published textbooks rather than self-designed course materials, or online material, as the main source of knowledge to complete any academic program. BIU believes that: in matter of contents, presentation, information structure, case studies, self-assessment, and diagrams, the quality of published textbooks is superior to all others. Additionally, the resume of the selected textbooks' authors cannot be easily challenged.
About the assigned textbooks.
The material for the academic program consists of a set of published textbooks specifically selected to ensure the expected learning outcomes of the student program. The student should follow the book reading order established in the Assignments Evaluation Form (AE Form)
These books may be assigned in a complementary or dialectical order. The complementary order ensures a progressive in-depth knowledge acquisition. The dialectical order presents different approaches to the study of the discipline so that the student has access to a complete and comprehensive perspective.
Learning from the textbooks.
Is all the information of a text organized in a coherent way? Definitely not! There are poor writers, disorganized authors, and inefficient editors. Also, you may like some books more than others. Use them to develop your own criteria! In any case, all BIU assigned textbooks are carefully supervised to make sure that they are truly functional, practical, and useful to the student. A good distance learning higher education for adults requires a sound foundation material in order to develop critical thinking.
Support books are assigned to further the knowledge of the specialization and to support any necessary research on the subject. The student should read the support books but no reports about them are required. Support books may help clarify some questions raised while studying in depth the other assigned books. BIU recommends each student to be familiar with the support books and read them according to specific needs and preferences. Support books may be included in the tuition and are usually assigned at postgraduate level. Additional support books may be assigned upon student request and at the student’s own expense.
A good education should teach HOW to think, rather than WHAT to think. More info...
TEXTBOOKS VERSUS ONLINE MATERIAL
Bircham International University has conducted a serious research about the efficiency of online learning and textbooks. We concluded the following:
Online learning material has proven to be efficient for short courses or seminars, usually under 40 hours of study. Online learning material is very motivating and pedagogical because of interactive charts and schemata, knowledge trees, etc., but not so efficient as a source of extensive amounts of content material.
Computer screen reading and comprehension exhausts the mind and the eyes after one hour of continuous concentration. Book reading allows three times more continuous work, before reaching the same level of mind and eyes exhaustion.
Online learning time is limited by the availability of a computer and Internet access. Textbook availability is more versatile. One may read a book on a train on the way home, sitting in a park, waiting for someone, etc... The ambiance surrounding the study time also plays an important role in the mind's state of receptiveness.
Concept search is conducted faster through the pages of a book than on a computer screen (for contents equivalent to a 600 pages book), except in the case of exact phrase or word search. Concept comprehension and interrelationship is more important than concrete data search when it comes to the efficiency of adult distance learning higher education.
Despite of the intensive use of computers, our mind feels more comfortable reading a book. Books allow note taking in the book itself, text marking, running through different sections. They are also affordable, portable, and can be read practically everywhere and under most circumstances.
It does not matter how much technology or fancy environments is given to a student, actual and efficient learning will be the direct result of a mental effort and process that no one else substitutes. If you want to learn, you have to do it yourself. And you do not need much except for good books, a good guidance, and, of course, your effort and mental process.
Thinking is free, not thinking may turn out quite expensive.
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