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How to do your PSYC100 readings

Staff at SASS teamed up with instructors from the Department of Psychology to help you understand how to best approach your weekly PSYC 100 readings and take good-quality notes.

Use this method to stay on track, avoid getting overwhelmed by too much information, and focus on understanding concepts and processes instead of trying to memorize information.

You can also download the reading methods sheet here.

Want more assistance with your reading and note-taking? Try looking over our online resources or the relevant units in Academics 101 or, if you’d like to get advice from a professional, book an appointment with an academic skills specialist.

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Scan Text for Active Reading (STAR)

  • Scan through each chapter in this unit. Pay particular attention to headings and diagrams. Read no more than a sentence or two from each paragraph.
  • Create a list of the key ideas, terms, people, and studies. (Key terms appear in boldface.)
  • Keep skimming the text, even if some of the ideas are unfamiliar or hard to follow. You’ll have time to look into details later. Avoid taking extensive notes or searching terms on Google.
Key Ideas*
e.g., The essential elements of science are found in psychology: systematic observation, testable hypotheses, democracy, cumulative discovery
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* Add additional rows to this table as needed; however, try to summarize the main ideas concisely.

Key Terms
e.g., Empirical methods
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Key People
e.g., Francis Galton (invented self-report questionnaires, did pioneering research with twins)
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Key Studies
e.g., Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help many people suffering from depression and anxiety
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Active Reading

  • Before you begin reading, rephrase each learning objective as a question and enter it in the table below. (Learning objectives are stated at the start of every chapter.)
  • Then, read the text and make notes. Focus on the sections that contain the key ideas you identified in Step One. These sections are most likely to contribute to your understanding of the week’s learning objectives.
  • Define the key terms you identified in Step One. Explain their significance.
Learning Objective Notes
e.g., Can I describe the ethical guidelines that psychologists follow?
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Key Term Definition and Significance
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Consolidate, Connect, Question

Consolidate your notes. Elaborate on the key ideas. Try to connect ideas that appear in different chapters with other concepts you’ve studied in PSYC 100.

At this stage, you could

  • Use flashcards to review key ideas and definitions;
  • Write a summary, clarifying key ideas and explaining their relation to PSYC 100 as a whole;
  • List questions to ask other students or your Teaching Assistant.

You don’t have to complete Step Three immediately. Sometimes, you’ll only recognize the key ideas and the connections between them after a day or two of thinking, or after learning about a new concept.

Key Term Definition
e.g. Ethics A set of guidelines that determine how research participants should be treated with the following considerations: informed consent, confidentiality, privacy, benefits and deception.
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Connecting Ideas
e.g., Researchers in psychology typically engage in the scientific process of exploring phenomena, often using empirical methods to test hypotheses. Researchers in psychology must ensure they are following ethical standards for research.
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