Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue

That is a good book which is opened with expectation, and closed with delight and profit.
Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888), American Educator, Social Reformer

Guide to Reflective Thinking: My Use of Information Strategies

Use the following statements to assess your sense of competence with regard to university studies. Any weak areas indicate an attitude, ability or habit that may be worth developing.

  • I explore sources of information in a methodical mannerI know all of the places where I can find documentation relevant to my courses: libraries, documentation centers, archives, etc.
  • I know how to operate Manitou and how to find useful references.
  • I know how to access publications directly, or on the Internet.
  • I take indispensable notes: bibliographical references, interesting web-site addresses, tables of contents, abstracts, lists of key word descriptors, etc.
  • I have a well thought-out and functional information classification system.
  • When the semester starts, I explore pertinent and available resources for each one of my courses: catalogues, periodicals, manuals, specialized dictionaries, encyclopedias, Internet sites, etc.
  • I continually look for the most up-to-date documentation on a given subject.
  • I continually look for leading and recognized authors in the field concerned.
  • I continually verify the validity and reliability of my resource material.
  • I plan my readingsI choose a place, time of day and ambience conducive to efficient reading.
  • Before I start reading, I clearly establish my reading purpose.
  • Before I start reading, I do a preview of the text.
  • I identify text sections by using titles and other text organization cues.
  • I think about the reading method that best suits my purpose: skimming, thorough reading, simultaneous note taking, etc.
  • I plan my reading time and determine my breaks based on the text sections.
  • I read methodicallyI read actively, having a pencil and paper handy for note taking.
  • I highlight significant elements of information: I underline, outline, use asterisks in the margins, etc.
  • I know and use a variety of note taking techniques.
  • I summarize essential ideas as I read them.
  • I write reading summaries on a regular basis.
  • I transfer essential information to my computer as soon as I can.
  • I create summary sheets containing information that is essential for me to keep.
  • I look for meaning in my study content and carefully interpret itWhen I study new material, I start by identifying what I already know.
  • Then I focus on aspects that are new to me.
  • I identify key notions and check my understanding of important concepts.
  • I try to establish links between concepts and real-life or concrete situations.
  • I visualize the practical implications and applications of the study material.
  • I take more than one thing into consideration at a time.
  • I try to catch the coherence and internal logic of the topic.
  • I notice gaps and discrepancies.
  • I compare similarities and differencesWhen relevant, I compare similar concepts, theories and problems in order to better differentiate them.
  • When relevant, I bring together different concepts, theories, and problems in order to understand their commonalities.
  • I compare the similarities and differences of the view points of leading authors specializing in a given field in order to clearly understand their respective streams of thought.
  • I identify the structure of a document (subsets, sections, parts)As soon as a course begins, I situate it within the discipline and within the sum of all my training.
  • As soon as a course begins, I identify the major sections of the domain and main topics covered.
  • When I study a text, I start by identifying the parts, sections and links between ideas.
  • When I study a text, I identify the guiding idea, main ideas and secondary ideas.
  • When I study a text, I differentiate statements of ideas from statements of fact, arguments, reasoning and examples used to defend and illustrate the ideas.
  • When I take notes in class, I use a code system to differentiate main and secondary ideas from facts, arguments, reasoning and examples used to defend and illustrate the ideas.
  • I classify information in sets and subsetsI sort and differently classify the instruction material from each course (syllabus, deadlines, assignment guidelines) my course notes, handout material, assignments, documentary tools (bibliographies, periodicals, key word descriptors) and my learning tools (reading notes, summary sheets, flash cards and mnemonics).
  • When I study a topic, I group together the main problems, ideas and concepts and classify them, according to their order of importance, in summary sheet format.
  • When I finish studying, I group and classify my reading notes and handout material into sets and subsets.
  • During my revisions, I organize all of my study material into summary sheet or learning card format (notes mapping, flash cards, resumes, tables, etc.).
  • I pay particular attention to assignment guidelines and test questionsI take time to clearly understand the meaning of each question and instruction before I start working.
  • I underline important words and think about their implications.
  • During exams, before I start writing I double-check the questions and instructions to make sure that I have not missed any important information.

We never stop learning how to learn. Each level of education has its own requirements. Texts become more complex, concepts become more abstract, theories become more numerous, problems become more difficult. We have to adapt, renew and reinvent our methods of exploration, reading, note-taking and learning. The basic principles remain the same, however: be methodical, plan ahead, select, compare, analyze, interpret, summarize...

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