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As part of preparing to study at the Open University, I decided that I needed to establish some routines and generally speaking get to a point where taking an hour or three per day to study came naturally, both to me, and to my family. In order to achieve that, my first subject was the Good Study Guide. Here are my thoughts on the book:
Author: Andrew Northedge
Publisher: the Open University
Length: 392 pages
Andrew Northedge has authored the second edition of the Good Study Guide, a book to help students think about how they learn, how they read and write, and how to survive in today’s world of studying.
The book is divided into twelve chapters, many of them building on skills learned in previous chapters. The first four chapters build basic understanding of study and the processes of learning, and, for anyone who has thought about how they learn previously, should be a fairly quick read, building on things you already know. Even so, except for the most advanced of learners, this first section, entitled “Studying Intelligently” should be helpful in addressing and re-addressing your thoughts on learning.
The second section, comprising the remaining eight chapters, focuses on specific skills, such as reading, writing, attributing and searching for information, to mention a few. This is achieved by starting out with a condensed version of an essay written by Richard Layard, named “The Secrets of Happiness”, which forms the basis of many of the excercises in the chapters to follow. These eight chapters, too, will be of use to most students, whether starting out, or experienced learners, as the skills covered are mostly covered in such a way as to re-focus and build upon previous knowledge. One possible exception is chapter 8, “Working with numbers and charts”, which, for anyone with more than a cursory level of knowledge of reading charts, is rehash of the very basics of these skills.
Of particular interest to me was chapters ten and eleven (“
Writing the way "they" want” and “
Managing the writing process“, respectively), which both built my confidence in showing me two different essays on Layard’s article, which the book asks the reader to review and improve, and challenged me to take a good, hard look at how I work with writing, and thoroughly discussed the planning aspect of writing.
While the book is divided into two major sections, and then into chapters, there are more subdivisions. Each chapter covers a large subject, and is divided into sub-fields of that subject, each of which is divided into further subdivisions. While very attentive of detail, the book still manages to tie everything together. Most subdivisions are summed up in key points, which reinforce the lesson learned.
In the introduction, Northedge makes it clear that there are many ways of attacking the subject matter of the book, and that they are all valid approaches. This is backed up throughout the book, with references to other chapters when discussing a topic that links up to topics discussed elsewhere. These references are found both in the text, and in a sidebar. Likewise, he emphasises the importance of proper attribution and referencing, and follows the OU guide to referencing to a tee, throughout the book.
I am very happy to have picked up Northedge’s worthwhile book, and would suggest it to anyone who are contemplating academic study, or wants a bit of a challenge, reading-wise.