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Strategy #4: Setting up an outline

Many authors provide an outline of the chapter, usually consisting of the boldfaced section headings, on the first page of each chapter, and sometimes it is in the form of a bulleted list. These structural features can make it easy for students to create an outline for themselves as a previewing strategy. Here are some instructions you can give to your students:

1. Before beginning to read, make a formal outline of the chapter using the basic outline at the start of the chapter. Or, go through the chapter and make your own outline using the boldfaced headings. Skip several lines under each heading to leave room for main ideas and major supporting details.

2. Dig deeper into your reading--"How" and "Why" questions generally encourage higher-level thinking.

Faculty can use this previewing strategy to encourage focus on the topics covered in the chapter. However, until students see that this works, they need motivation to invest their time in these strategies. One way to provide this motivation is to give a reading quiz during which they can use their outlines, but not their books. They can also submit their outlines for instructor comments. If there is time in class, students can share their outlines in small groups, perhaps with the goal of producing the "best" outline to be posted on a discussion board. At the very least, a completion grade can be a motivating factor in getting them to try it.