Kiosk Guides for Learning

The majority of Indian students are "holistic" learners. They learn more
easily if they see the
whole picture first, then learn the details as a part of the whole
Sandra J Fox 1944
Oglala Sioux educator

Studying with multiple sources

Course information can be delivered through a variety of formats:

Lectures by teacher or guests


Fictional story/novel

Original source material as diaries, government documents,
proceedings, minutes

Electronic media such as videos, radio programs

Interviews and biographies

Eyewitness accounts
or commentaries

Hand-outs and printout summaries, outlines, etc. of (text) chapters, magazine articles

Internet web sites

Discussion groups

Stahl, et al (1998) found that using multiple-text sources can only be effective if we are taught to use them properly. As beginners, we tend to be more consistent in what information we select from short, well-constructed texts. Longer, less structured documents tend to be more confusing.

Text books

  • provide the (required) foundation of facts and viewpoints as starting  point and/or overview
  • can sequence information, facts, issues
  • create a context for comparing and understanding other sources
  • can be written in a neutral, objective tone

Problems with a single text for a subject or course include:

  • information is often "academic" lacking the drama of real life experience, adventure, and experimentation
  • bias is hidden or concealed ignoring competing facts, priorities, minority viewpoints
  • a single interpretation limits how reported facts are prioritized/sequenced, restricting viewpoint (Euro/Caucasian) or subject testing (white male)
  • original/eyewitness sources of information are secondary to interpretative accounts

Additional readings and alternative sources
of information can assist you to

  • create a richer understanding
    with additional information and perspective
  • interact or engage with facts, actors, circumstances
    of the material
  • practice and familiarize
    yourself with new subject vocabulary and concepts
  • process opposing, even conflicting,
    points of view in order to assess, evaluate, defend

Conflicting information however can impede your learning,
unless you can

  • analyze it for commonalties
  • reorganize or synthesize
    your model for understanding it
  • consider the impact of, and evaluate, conflicts
  • filter it with a context presented in the basic text

Some Recommendations:

  • Read your text
    to provide the factual framework from which to begin
    (see also Taking notes from a text book)
  • Proceed to shorter, more focused sources
    of information especially if you are inexperienced in the subject
  • Practice with multiple texts to improve your evaluative skills:
    • compare and contrast your sources
    • analyze them for bias or viewpoint
    • note when and where they were written, and how that affects the viewpoint
  • Understand the connections
    between events, actors, and circumstances rather than learn a series of "facts" which can be easily be forgotten
  • Use in-class or on-line discussion time
    to test your understanding and ask questions!
Inspired and adapted from the study "What Happens When Students Read Multiple Source Documents in History?" Co-authors: Steven A. Stahl, Cynthia R. Hynd, Bruce K. Britton, Mary M. McNish (University of Georgia) and Dennis Bosquet (Clarke County School District) as found at (May 11, 00).
See also:

Effective study habits | A.S.P.I.R.E. - a study system | Index - a study system | Studying with flashcards | Studying with multiple sources | Finding the right study space | Studying text books in science