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Benefits of Quickcheck Questions

As noted on the previous page, this book tempts certain students into a fruitless memorization strategy. Ironically, the problem is due to a truly useful study aid: the study questions, also known as quickcheck questions.

These study questions are intended to provide four benefits. First, they take the guessing game out of studying. The questions tell students what the author considers the main points or most important information in the chapter. (Teachers are free to add or delete questions or make amendments, of course.)

How can a student recognize the important point in a long story or example?

A second, more subtle function of the study questions is to allow digressions and expanded examples, without implying that students have to learn every detail at the same depth.

If an anecdote or story is accompanied by one simple question, that means the story is presented in the same spirit as a lecturer going off on a tangent to tell a story. Most of the details are supple­mental. The main point of the paragraph is targeted by the study question.

What are the supposed benefits of the study questions?

Third, the study questions facilitate what psychologists call metacognition or monitoring the thought process, because the study questions encourage self-testing. Ideally, you should follow this simple procedure:

  1. Read well, in depth, and try to enjoy what you are reading.
  2. Use the study questions later to see if you recall the main points.

Perhaps I should have called them delayed check questions. That is preferable to using them quickly, according to memory research. But they might also be useful as a quick check to make sure you are picking up the main point of a passage.

The questions can help alert you if your attention wanders while reading. This happens to everybody during extended study periods. If you hit a study question and realize you have no clue, it is time to take a break, then reread the page.

If you are satisfied that you know the answers, then adopt a more leisurely approach. Come back later after doing something else. When you come back, look only at the questions, to see if you can still answer them. If so, you will know you have the material in long-term memory.

I will elaborate on this technique, and how and why it works, in the remainder of Chapter Zero. But that is the heart of it.

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