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Helping Your Learning by Previewing

"Browsing," as suggested by her boss, is the place for Leslie to begin. However, it must be effective and meaningful browsing. We might refer to this as previewing.

Previewing is a systematic exploration of a reading assignment.

When handed a book to look at, how many of us open to the end of the book and begin to flip pages moving toward the front of the book. We certainly don’t read from the back to the front. Why browse or preview from the back to the front?

Effective previewing requires that you start at the beginning -- not the end! Read the book’s introduction or preface to determine the purpose or objective of the book. Then scan or survey the table of contents. Treat the table of contents as a map that will guide you on your journey through the pages.

Now you understand the purpose of your trip through these pages, and you should have a feeling for the direction in which you will be headed.

Scan the contents of the book itself by reading chapter headings and subheadings. Take a look at any graphics or visuals. If a particular paragraph catches your eye, stop and read it. You may even want to write down an idea or two that you get from reading a paragraph.

Once your mind has an image of the entire contents of the book, you can begin to look at smaller parts of the map by previewing each chapter before it is read. For example, preview chapter one before you begin to read it; then preview chapter two before you read it, and so on. By previewing each chapter, you are now getting focused on specific smaller bits of information.

By systematically "browsing" in this manner, you are relieving some of the anxiety and apprehension caused by the unfamiliarity of your reading task. You also now have an image of what to expect. By previewing this material, you will likely increase your comprehension and retention when you actually begin to read and study.