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I am writing a book on how to program in C#.NET.

Each of the sections follows this format:

  • Section Aims
  • Content
  • Section Review
  • Quiz
  • Exercises

The section review is there to summarise all of the things that have been taught, including the key programming syntax.

It dawned on me that it may be silly to write all that out in the section review, and then immediately ask the reader to answer questions on it.

Should I move the section review to the end of the section, or leave it where it is? My only concern about moving it is that if the reader gets confused or stuck on the quiz/exercises, they may give up!

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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The review will have different purposes - and should be written differently - for each of these places. If it is just after you have read the chapter, then it should be summing up all of the major issues in the chapter, a way of setting in your mind the critical parts, as a starter to the quiz, which should then help them to use this.

If it is after the chapter, then it should be a briefer summary - the reader has done the exercises, and probably knows the core of the chapter. This should be key concepts or ideas that they need to have before moving on.

So which do you want to do? Put the material appropriately.

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Having read a number of programing books, I think having the review section before any quizzes or exercises is very helpful. It gives me a chance to go back over what was covered in the section, and make sure I have a good grasp on the ideas of it. It's also helpful if the review section calls out any important points that the reader should be taking from the section. It helps focus things.

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Oh no, not another C# book ;)

Joking aside and to your question: Think about what was "dawning" on you and think about your audience.

If you want to write a book for idiots, save your time, idiots don't read books. So do you think your readers are idiots?

You are reading this, so I guess your answer was "No!". Then don't treat them like they were. No matter how you arrange your sections, the reader will have figured out after the first one how you place the sub-sections. I.e. they know where to find the review if they want to use it for the quiz or exercises.

So make it easy for them to find the info they need. Keep in mind that they also need the info after reading your book during coding on a real project. Maybe (instead of googling) they want to pick up your book and look it up. From this scenario would you place it where you do it now? (Just a question to consider for you, I do not have an answer on this one.)

Don't hide information if you want to teach people. They do not have to memorize the info anyway. They always can look things up, they are missing. They are not operating in an emergency room where every delay can decide about life and death.

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+1 for "don't hide information if you want to teach people." That should go on a bumpersticker. :) –  Lauren Ipsum May 30 '12 at 14:25
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+2 for the "don't hide" comment and the "Oh no, not another c# book". Unfortunately ( or not ) I can only vote up once. –  Schroedingers Cat May 30 '12 at 15:09

How big is a Section? What's in it? I ask because if you can break it into sub-sections, you might have a review at the end of each sub-section, and then the quiz at the end of the whole section.

If not, I would order it:

  1. Review of section
  2. Exercises with answers at the end of the section (to give the student a chance to practice)
  3. Quiz (with answers at the back of the book)
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