Strategy #6: Considering sentences

Sentence length
Although overall content of a textbook is your primary concern, it is important to be aware of how sentence length and clarity can effect comprehension, especially for readers new to a subject area. Generally speaking, shorter sentences containing just one subject are easier to understand than longer sentences containing several variations on the subject plus a string of prepositional phrases.

Introduction and conclusion sentences
Some well-written textbooks will include a clearly written sentence or two under the boldfaced headings that introduce the content of the section. Readers can use these to help focus on learning goals for that section.

In addition, a clearly written sentence or two at the end of each section, which summarizes the main idea of that section, can help readers check comprehension and focus.

Concept transition sentences
Many textbooks will include a transitional sentence or short paragraph that explains how the information in the current section links to information in the following section(s). This transition fosters a holistic reading experience rather than an acquisition of isolated facts and ideas.

It is important to show students how these sentence elements work early in the semester so that they may make full use of them in their reading experience.