One simple strategy is to ask students to highlight, underline, circle, or otherwise mark the main idea, explanations, examples, and evidence. Take a look at this passage from a psychology textbook. The student used highlighters to identify the presentation pattern at the paragraph level for improved reading comprehension.

Main Idea

More than 200 years ago, philosophers such as John Locke and David Hume echoed Aristotle's conclusion from 200 years earlier: We learn by association. Our minds naturally connect events that occur in sequence. If, after seeing and smelling freshly baked bread, you eat some and find it satisfying, then the next time you see and smell fresh bread, your experience will lead you to expect that eating it will be satisfying again. And if you associate a sound with a frightening consequence, then your fear may be aroused by the sound itself. As one 4-year-old exclaimed after watching a TV character get mugged, "If I had heard that music, I wouldn't have gone around the corner!" (p. 313-314)

Passage from:
Myers, David, G. (2007). Psychology. 8th edition. New York: Worth Publishers.

As you can see, the student created a color code for the main idea, explanations, examples, and evidence to help visually understand the passage. Remind students to look for key words that signal examples, evidence, and other supporting ideas. Strengthening their awareness of signal words such as "for example, as, like, imagine" can improve their reading comprehension.

Please note that we do not recommend that students do this every time they read. This is a good exercise to do together to help them understand the patterns presented in textbooks. Faculty should also recommend students stop and try this strategy when the reading is especially challenging. However, consistently reading with this strategy will be very time consuming, and some students will be distracted by the task of changing colors.