Students throughout the western world, and perhaps worldwide, seem to regard highlighting text, with pencil or with a text marker, as an effective study method.
However, research published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, points another direction.
The research was done by J. Dunlosky, K. A. Rawson, E. J. Marsh, M. J. Nathan, and D. T. Willingham.
I mentioned this paper before in this post.
They compared 10 study methods :
1. Elaborative interrogation (Generating an explanation for why an explicitly stated fact or concept is true)
2. Self-explanation (Explaining how new information is related to known information, or explaining steps taken
during problem solving)
3. Summarization (Writing summaries (of various lengths) of to-be-learned texts)
4. Highlighting/underlining (Marking potentially important portions of to-be-learned materials while reading)
5. Keyword mnemonic (Using keywords and mental imagery to associate verbal materials)
6. Imagery for text (Attempting to form mental images of text materials while reading or listening)
7. Rereading (Restudying text material again after an initial reading)
8. Practice testing (Self-testing or taking practice tests over to-be-learned material)
9. Distributed practice (Implementing a schedule of practice that spreads out study activities over time)
10. Interleaved practice (Implementing a schedule of practice that mixes different kinds of problems, or a schedule of
study that mixes different kinds of material, within a single study session)
Rather to their surprise, they found that two methods yield a good return : Practice testing and distributed practice.
I used the first one for an itil certification last fall ( and both for an fpa certification the year before), and i liked the effects.