I was always told at the beginning of the year by various members of staff that to get the most out of the course and the lectures, we as students should be reading a related chapter before the lecture and again after the lecture. By the sounds of it you may not think of it to be such a large task, or even one that would take up majority of your time. Though, it isn’t only until you consult a text book, find the right chapter, and then half an hour later discover where it ends is where you really questions the pre and post reading advice.
Don’t get me wrong, I can definitely see why lectures say this. In fact I’d probably take comfort in the fact when I can nod to the lecturer as he/she covers points that I went through the night before. I suppose it’s all down to what they mean by ‘reading’. Do they mean just skin through the 30 page chapter, or do they mean pull out your reading glasses, put the kettle on and whip out your note book kind of reading? And to be honest, I would suspect I am supposed to go with the latter.
So why is it so unrealistic?
Well, it’s most likely the fact that it would take a very, very long time. Though, the other half is also knowing you won’t complete it because you’ll lose concentration, get bored, start to skip pages and probably end up putting it off for another day. However, at least it’s good that we are being honest with ourselves. A lot of people who might have tried it probably would have experienced a similar sort of thing the second time round.
So, on top of all that, how do you intend on remembering it all too? Is it just a case of jotting down key points? Well, the other thing is that you’ll have to re-visit this every now and again. Of course, it’s not possible to remember the whole chapter, and you probably won’t have to, but to keep it fresh in your mind those key points you took down will definitely come in handy later.
Other points which contribute to the fact that it might be considered unrealistic is because depending on what year you are in at University, you will certainly have other areas of academic work to concern yourself with. You will be given coursework to complete from time to time, which you will usually spend, doing in the times you aren’t in lectures. So, again, that can throw you off your pre and post reading too.
Perhaps another important area to touch upon is that fact that you won’t just be having one lecture a day, you might be faced with a busy day of 2 or 3 lectures, and the prospect of reading 20-30 pages for each can be impossible. Even just the thought of it is enough to put most students off.
Are there any alternatives?
Naturally, if you can’t seem to handle the reading suggested, there are other ways to get yourself indulged in the principles of psychology:
- Learn how to note take – pulling out the key points can be more efficient then reading books without making any written notes at all. It is usually the key ideas mentioned in lectures that you should be concentrating on, as well as other which might be linked to them. Create a habit of picking out the main points after each lecture on 2 or 3 A4 pages so you can look back at them when it comes round to revise for the exams
- Audio and podcasts – probably an avenue not explored by many students. But you’d be surprised of how much psychology related podcasts you can find in the iTunes store which are completely free. Majority of them are recorded in lectures which usually matches the syllabus in other institutions loosely. Definitely worth a listen whilst doing the laundry.
- Expand on lecture slides – although it’s advised to read more than what is put onto the lecture slides, if you’re strapped for time, you could look into the lecture slides and expand on them by reading into the book on those specific key areas, so you won’t be looking into anything that wasn’t said in the lecture. Nevertheless, those are the points you should be most comfortable with over any other additional principles.
Those are probably the few of the limited number of alternatives there are for reading. They could be as efficient as reading before and after the lecture, but perhaps it depends based on individual. However, they are certainly considered to shave off the time, so you can spend whatever you have left on finishing coursework and taking care of other aspects of your degree.