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Strategy #2: Previewing chapter outlines

Take a look at your textbook. Is there a outline at the start of each chapter? Textbooks often include a chapter outline on the first page of each chapter. This outline previews the topics to be covered by listing them in the order of presentation.

Chapter outlines are especially important for students new to a subject area. They serve several functions.

  • A chapter outline helps students determine the focus of the chapter and then their own focus and purpose before they begin to read. Determining a focus for their reading, and thus reading with a purpose, helps students to sustain their attention, read actively, and improve their overall comprehension.
  • A chapter outline also provides a framework to help students contextualize the information to be read. Having established a preliminary framework before they begin reading, students are less likely to miss important concepts.
  • A chapter outline in a well-designed textbook often uses the chapter subheadings. Students can therefore use it to compose a basic outline to fill in as they read.

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Preview Outlines for chapters

If your textbooks include chapter outlines, it is important to point them out to students early in the semester so that they may make full use of them.