The following general procedure may help you ask and answer questions about your material:
1. Write down everything you know about the topic. A concept map is a useful format for this. When you can't think of anything more, give yourself a few minutes to look for details that you may have missed. Ask yourself, "Is there anything else-" Be as inclusive as you can at this stage.
2. Re-organize the material into categories or groupings, by asking, "How do these things fit together- What elements are related and how are they related- What general groupings are there-"
3. Ask, "What is the significance of all this- What can it be used for- What are its implications- Is there anything that doesn't fit, or that doesn't agree with the facts, or with other theories on the topic, or with my personal experience-" You may want to write an explanation of your answers in a paragraph.
4. Push Past Your Limits. Remember, when you are doing these activities, that the interesting ideas are the ones you haven't thought of yet. Always push yourself past the point at which you think you have said everything that needs to be said. Always ask questions that you can't answer, and always ask more questions than you can answer.
5. Don't Just Think -- Write. Write down every thought you have. There are a number of reasons for this: you don't want to forget what you thought; you will be able to retrace the steps you took to get an idea, so you can learn to deliberately apply the same steps in the future when you are faced with a similar problem; you will have a pile of raw material with which to work -- good ideas often come from apparently trivial or insignificant ideas. Also, you will find that writing down ideas will encourage you to think more.
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