1 Examinations Page 1 MODULE 2 STUDENT GUIDE TO NOTE TAKING
2 Examinations Page 2 Why take notes? I have a good memory: It s just short" o s t o f u s c a n r e l a t e t o t h i s q u o t e. H a v e y o u e v e r l i s t e n e d t o a T V o r r a d i o b r o a d c a s t a b o u t something and then realized a short time later that you could not recall more than one or two points? When the information was presented, did it not seem straight forward and easy to remember? Unfortunately, memory fades quickly, and something clear today may be quite vague a short time later. Memory Fade % Memory As you can see by this graph, up to 50% of the information from a lecture is lost within t h e f i r s t h o u r. A n a d d i t i o n a l 2 0 % i s l o s t b y n i n e h o u r s a f t e r a l e c t u r e. I n e f f e c t, 7 0 % o f what you hear during a presentation is lost by the time you get up the next morning # Hours after lecture Clearly, it is not possible to just sit in class and listen to what the instructor has to say if one expects to remember and apply the learning material at a later date. If class lectures are your primary source of information, then it will be necessary for you to take notes as the lectures are given. If you don't take class notes, or if your notes are incomplete and disorganized, you will probably find it difficult to learn the course material. Class notes ensure that you have ready access to important information and can assist you in organizing and processing new material. Thus, a set of good lecture notes is a valuable study aid that can eliminate the problem of memory fade. What's Next? 1) Learn how to take good lecture notes 2) Learn how to take notes from textbooks 3) Learn how to put it all together
3 Examinations Page 3 How do I make/take good notes? here are many effective methods for taking notes. The common features of a good note-taking t e c h n i q u e i n c l u d e : " highlighting the main ideas covered in the lecture " organizing the minor points, details, facts, and supporting examples " showing the relationships between main ideas " reminding you of your assignments, due dates, extra readings etc. Recording Main Ideas The most common problem that students have in taking notes from textbooks or lectures is taking too many notes. Ideally, you want to record only the important points. If you record too much, then the review will be just like rereading or repeating the lecture. The main ideas of a lecture are the points the instructor pays particular attention to. Instructors frequently give clues to what is important and your job is to pick up on these clues. Here are a few indicators of important points: P o i n t s r e p e a t e d - w h e n t h e i n s t r u c t o r r e p e a t s a s t a t e m e n t o r c o n c e p t i t s h o u l d b e c o n s i d e r e d i m p o r t a n t -signals include 'As I said earlier..." or 'if you recall from before" Change of Voice -the instructor may speak louder or softer when reaching a key point Change of Speed -the instructor may slow d o w n w h e n i n t r o d u c i n g a n i m p o r t a n t p o i n t Listing and Numbering Points -take note if a lecturer directly states there are a certain number of points Writing on the Board -key words or outlines may be written on the board as they speak D i r e c t A n n o u n c e m e n t -may state that something is important such as "good exam question"
4 Examinations Page 4 Recording Details and Examples If you are a student who feels "everything is important," you may have a difficult time deciding how much detail to include with the main ideas. You cannot record everything that a speaker says. As a result, you need to be selective and record only the most important details. In general, you should record a brief phrase for each detail that directly explains or clarifies a major point. If examples are given, be sure to summarize at least one. Record more than one if you have time. Recording the Lecture Organization A good note-taking system will let you easily see how the lecture is organized. This will help you to determine the relative importance of items and make connections between the main points. A simple way to show a lecture's organization is to use indentation: Major Topic - Main idea Detail Detail -Main idea Detail Detail Detail Example As you can see, we can quickly determine that this set of notes has two main ideas under one major topic. For instance, the major topic might be Economics and the two main ideas could be (a) macroeconomics and (b) microeconomics. The relationship between the main ideas then, is that they are both subcategories o f E c o n o m i c s. Recording of Reminders and Due Dates If you are able to identify main points, record appropriate detail and show lecture organization, you will take adequate notes. Even so, a good note-taking system must also be able to help keep track of tests, assignments, and extra readings. When a lecturer makes note about a particular date, it is important for you record that information so that you do not forget to transfer it to your assignment notebook. Having good notes won't help if you miss an important test or assignment. Specific Note-Taking Methods Now that you have learned the basic elements of good note-taking it is time to introduce some of the m e t h o d s o t h e r s t u d e n t s h a v e f o u n d s u c c e s s w i t h i n t h e i r a c a d e m i c c a r e e r s. T h e t a s k f o r y o u i s t o s e l e c t a note-taking system that you feel comfortable with, one that seems to fit into your way of learning. It is important to recognize that there are many different methods of note-taking and that this learning module cannot possibly cover them all. With this consideration in mind, the following methods will be discussed: 1. O u t l i n e N o t e s 2. Diagram Notes 3. C o r n e l l N o t e s
5 Examinations Page 5 Outline Notes There are two types of outline notes. The first is called Traditional Outline Notes and they typically look like this: Memory Psych 101 Tues, Oct. 2 I. 2 kinds memory - short & long A. Short-term 1. New info enter here 2. Temporary storage 3. Small capacity, info either -put in long-term -forgotten B. Long-term 1. Transferred from short 2. Permanent storage 3. Info there just can t get it a. tip=of-tongue b. other info in way N o t e t h e u s e o f R o m a n n u m e r a l s f o r main points Note the use of letters to indicate sub-main point. Note that details are given regular n u m b e r s. Assignment - Read chapter 4 The second type of Outline notes is Modified Outline notes: Memory Nov Psych Short-term & long-term Short-term All info goes here first Temp. Memory, limited storage Info s.t. mem. Must get to l.t. mem or forg Long-term info,ust go to s.t. first Forgetting You forget if: 1. Info not transferred to l.t. 2. Brain becomes damaged Note the use of boxing to identify major topic. N o t e t h e u s e o f u n d e r l i n i n g a n d indentation to separate main topic from sub-topics. This note-taker has also made extensive use of abbreviations. Minimal amounts of lettering or n u m b e r s a r e u s e d. Next week - Ch.4 Outline Notes Summary
6 Examinations Page 6 Outline notes take advantage of the fact that there are a limited number of main points in any lecture. Once you have identified the major topic it is simply a matter of waiting for the instructor to introduce the main ideas, followed by details and examples. If we look at our note example, we can easily see that the major topic was Memory, w h i c h w a s f u r t h e r d e v e l o p e d i n t o t w o m a i n i d e a s : Kinds of Memory a n d Forgetting. Outline notes work best with instructors who are highly organized, and perhaps even a bit formal, in their style of presentation. Similarly, outline notes work best for course material that can be presented as a series of main topics followed by sub-topics and details. If the lecture is not highly organized it is best to record as much information as possible and then identify the main points later. You may have to combine the various note-taking techniques.. Diagram Notes Another good way to record information from lectures is to make pictorial or schematic notes. Not all lecture material can be organized into outline form. Sometimes information shows a course of d e v e l o p m e n t, a s e q u e n c e o f e v e n t s, a p r o c e d u r e o r d e s c r i p t i o n. I n s u c h c a s e s, a d i a g r a m m a y b e a b e t t e r way to remember the information. In fact, you may already be familiar with this type of notes if you have taken courses in biology, geology, physics, or economics. Here is a paragraph of lecture material followed by an example of diagram notes: "All verbal information goes first into the primary memory...also called short-term memory. When this information is rehearsed... or recited...part of it goes into our secondary or long-term memory. The rest of the information, usually the part we are least interested in, is forgotten". Memory Psych 101 What happens to new info: Verbal info Short-term Mem. Recited Long-Term Mem. œ Not Recited Forgotten As you can see, the diagram provides a good summary for verbal information. There are several methods for mapping and making tree or flow diagrams such as the example above. However, the benefits of such methods may be outweighed by the considerable amount of time it would take to learn effective diagramming techniques. You may want to use diagramming on a limited basis, combined with outlining, until you have developed an efficient technique. You may also consider a more simple form of diagram notes called T-notes. T-notes As the name suggests, T-notes involve organizing information around one or more large Ts that are drawn on the page of your notebook. Each main idea or topic goes above the top of a T. Subtopics or key points a r e r e c o r d e d o n t h e l e f t h a l f o f t h e p a g e a s t h e i n s t r u c t o r i n t r o d u c e s t h e m. A d d i t i o n a l d e t a i l s, e x a m p l e s,
7 Examinations Page 7 and other supporting information are recorded on the right side of the page. The page would look something like this: Memory Psych 101 Differences in short and long term memory Short-term Temporary Storage of info Storage LTD, must be moved Will forget if not put into L.T. Long-Term Info stored permanently, unlimited Problem is finding info afterward Forgetting Causes Info didn t reach long-term Brain got damaged (accident, illness) N o t e t h a t t h e M a i n t o p i c s a r e p l a c e d o n t o p o f T. T h e r e a r e t w o s u b t o p i c s u n d e r t h i s T. S e c o n d T Quickly go back and compare the Outline notes with the T notes. Do you see a difference in how the n o t e s a r e t a k e n? H a s t h e r e c o r d e d i n f o r m a t i o n c h a n g e d? Cornell Notes The final type of notes are much more than a way to record notes in class. It is really a set of procedures for recording and using class notes in an effective and efficient matter. The system was designed by Walter Pauk more than 40 years ago at Cornell University. The key to the Cornell note system is the twocolumn page format: T h i s a r e a i s u s e d f o r r e c a l l c l u e s. 2.5" Wide 6" Wide T h i s a r e a i s u s e d f o r r e c o r d i n g l e c t u r e n o t e s. 2" High This area is used for summarizing the page notes. As you can see, each section of the page has a specific function in the Cornell system. In the six inch wide column, you will record as many facts and ideas as you can during the lecture. You have the option of using Outline or T notes in this region. The 2.5 inch column allows you to place questions or key terms in the margin directly beside the appropriate information. The advantage here, is that the questions will help you review the lecture later. The key words or questions will act as recall clues for the lecture material. Finally, the 2 inch border on the bottom allows you to summarize the page or to summarize an entire lecture.
8 Examinations Page 8 How Do I Take Notes From Textbooks? ost students make the mistake of believing that there is only one time to worry about taking notes, namely, during the lecture. True enough, a good set of lecture notes can take you a long way. However, your lecture notes are only part of the equation. The most successful students also benefit from knowing how to make notes in and from their textbooks. Once again, space limitations dictate that only three different note taking systems can be illustrated: " Standard System " Question-in-the margin System " Separate Notes System Standard System The standard system is actually a textbook marking system. The system operates best when the student can identify important ideas within the textbook and has knowledge of the basic guidelines for underlining and jotting notes in the margin. If you choose to use the standard system, you must develop the following two skills first: Sensing what to mark " Sensing what to mark " Consistency in marking Textbook marking can be a useful aid to study and review, but not if you mark everything. Two general rules to follow include (a) never mark anything until you have read the entire thought and (b) mark something only if you can say it from memory first. The rational behind these two rules is that we can't assume something is important before we have read it, and second, we don't learn something just because w e h a v e u n d e r l i n e d i t. There are several textbook features that can help you to determine what is important: 1. Titles and Topic Headings M a i n t o p i c s a r e p r e s e n t e d a n d s u b t o p i c s a r e i d e n t i f i e d 2. P a r a g r a p h s a n d T o p i c s e n t e n c e s Every paragraph will have a topic sentence and that sentence will state the main idea of the paragraph. Usually is the first one. 3. Signal Words and Phrases Introductory signal a point is about to be made eg. "three causes are..." R e l a t i o n a l eg. 'in addition.." "however.. ' Conclusive highlight cause and effect eg. 'thus.." 'therefore...'
9 Examinations Page 9 4. Lists of things What belongs & what does not? 5. Emphasis eg. boldface type or italic Consistency in Marking The second skill to develop is using a marking system that is consistent so that you don't have to spend a lot of time determining what to use when you read something. Some of the markings that have become quite standard include the following: D o u b l e u n d e r l i n e m e a n s m a i n i d e a Single line indicates supporting idea Circled numbers means related points Box key terms Put an asterisk beside ideas of special importance Put? by things unclear to you The Question-in-the-Margin System The second system we are going to look at is also a textbook marking technique. The advantage is that the guidelines for using this system include only four easy steps: -Survey the chapter -Return to the first paragraph -Write a question in the margin -Underline key words Surveying the chapter This first step should not take longer than 10 minutes. The purpose is really only to get "the big picture' about the reading. Take a look at the chapter title. What does this tell you about the content of the Chapter? For example, in a Psychology textbook, what would a chapter called Child Development tell you? It probably would be about the stages a child goes through as a grows. Do you know anything already about child development? Take a look at the pictures, charts, graphs, diagrams etc. Read the captions and see if they make sense to you. If you look at the headings and sub-headings, do they seem to follow a particular order. For instance a c h a p t e r o n c h i l d d e v e l o p m e n t w o u l d p r o b a b l y s t a r t w i t h n e w b o r n s a n d w o r k t o w a r d a d o l e s c e n c e. R e a d the short summary at the end if there is one. Return to the first paragraph T h e s e c o n d s t e p s h o u l d n o t t a k e m o r e t h a n a f e w m i n u t e s e i t h e r. R e a d t h e f i r s t p a r a g r a p h. I s t h e r e a t o p i c s e n t e n c e? What is the main idea of this paragraph? The author should indicate what this chapter is going to b e a b o u t. U s e t h e t o p i c s e n t e n c e a s o n e o f t h e p o i n t s i n y o u r o u t l i n e n o t e s o f t h e c h a p t e r. Write a question in the margin F o r t h e f i r s t, a n d e a c h s u b s e q u e n t p a r a g r a p h, t r y t o d e v e l o p a q u e s t i o n t h a t c o u l d b e a n s w e r e d b y r e a d i n g the main points in the paragraph. A good start would be to use the typical Who, What, When, Where,
10 Examinations Page 10 Why and How type of questions. Place the questions in the margin of your text or use post-it notes if you don't want to mark your book. Make sure the question draws out relevant information. As you improve at this skill you will notice that your margin questions often appear on the test. Underline key words The final step involves underlining only the key terms, phrases, and sentences that make up the answer to t h e q u e s t i o n. Y o u h a v e t h e o p t i o n o f w r i t i n g o u t t h e i n f o r m a t i o n i n r e s p o n s e t o y o u r q u e s t i o n o r y o u c a n just recite the answer out loud. It is important not to look at the underlined text material when you are trying to recall the answer. Remember, your text won't be there when you have to answer the question on test day. A good guideline is to not underline terms until you can say them without looking. A very similar note taking system to the Question-in-the-margin technique is the ADULT method for developing useful notes. The ADULT method asks you to follow five steps as you analyze textbook material. Only a brief description will be given in this module, but you can easily adapt from the Question-in-the margin method. Applying the ADULT Method of Note Taking Ask Q u e s t i o n s As you are reading new material ask yourself questions or even jot them in the margin. Determine w h e r e t h e a n s w e r i s Document the appropriate info with some marking technique Understand the information Rework the information into an answer that makes sense to you Learn t h e a n s w e r s R e v i e w a n d r e c i t e, o u t l o u d, y o u r a n s w e r s t o t h e q u e s t i o n s Test yourself As if you were preparing for a test; make up an exam or two to write Separate Notes System The final system we will look at is the separate notes system. As the name suggests, this system requires t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f a s e p a r a t e s e t o f n o t e s. T h e n o t e s a r e m a d e f r o m t h e t e x t a n d t h e r e a r e s e v e n g e n e r a l guidelines to follow: " Use the Cornell format for page design " Finish each paragraph before writing a note about it " Be selective -use one-sentence summaries " Use own words -should be able to say from memory " Write full sentences " Be swift -don't spend all day making notes " Don't forget the visual stuff ie. Diagrams, Charts, Tables
11 Examinations Page 11 Contour Lines Sample from Fact based Text Key Words N o t e s o n C h a p t e r General Rules for Contour Lines 1. Steep Slope 1. Steep Slope - lines close together 2. Gentle Slope 2. Gentle Slope - lines are spread 3. Cross 3. Lines Never cross 4. Streams 4. Lines crossing streams - bend upstream
12 Examinations Page 12 How do I Put It All Together? "I don't have a problem, I just need more time" an you relate to this guy? You may be wondering how you are going to find the time to attend class, take notes, revise notes, read the text, make more notes and then somehow study all this stuff! Don't worry, it can be done, and you may even be surprised to learn that the extra effort you put into developing a Note Taking/Study technique can actually save time. In all likelihood, what you perceive to be a time problem is actually an efficiency problem. In most cases, if students improve learning efficiency, they have few problems with time. Improving efficiency with the PLRS Learning Cycle One of the best ways to improve learning efficiency is to combine all the tasks of learning into a daily cycle. Ideally, the cycle would ensure that the time spent on one task would decrease the amount of time required for the next task. The PLRS Cycle incorporates four common tasks: PREVIEW œ STUDY LEARN œ REVIEW œ As you can see by the diagram, the PLRS cycle has a definite direction and the tasks are interconnected. T o u n d e r s t a n d t h e w o r k i n g s o f t h e c y c l e y o u w i l l n e e d t o a d d r e s s w h a t h a p p e n s d u r i n g e a c h p h a s e o f t h e four tasks. Previewing Overall, only about 10 minutes are spent previewing an item. The main goal of previewing is to get the general idea about the content of a chapter, article, lab assignment etc. Previewing can be accomplished by reading the introduction or first paragraph completely, followed by the summary and then the topic sentence of each paragraph. Once completed, time is then spent trying to recall and recite the main ideas of the article or chapter. Even though this phase of the cycle takes relatively little time, the benefits are substantial. The first benefit is that it is possible to obtain as much as 70% of the important information contained in an item by previewing. This suggests that a student who previews material prior to class will have a very good idea of what will be discussed. In addition it allows the student to start thinking about what to listen for in the lecture. For instance, perhaps something was unclear in the text or was controversial for the student.
13 Examinations Page 13 T h e s e c o n d b e n e f i t o f p r e v i e w i n g i s t h a t b r i e f n o t e s c a n b e p l a c e d o n t h e r i g h t h a n d p a g e s s o t h a t t h e lecture can be followed more easily during class. Material not covered in the text will stand out during the lecture. Time will not be wasted searching for information in the text later on when reviewing lecture material. Learning It may seem strange to have a phase called learning in the cycle given that all of the tasks involve learning. However, learning actually refers to the fact that the lecture session is the primary learning period for most s t u d e n t s. S t u d e n t s a r e e x p e c t e d t o a t t e n d l e c t u r e s a n d t h e y a r e r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e i n f o r m a t i o n t h a t i s p r e s e n t e d d u r i n g t h e s e s e s s i o n s. If lectures are the primary learning period, then note taking is the primary activity that occurs during this time period. Your ability to take adequate notes is not only dependent on your note taking technique but also your level of preparation. If you have previewed the material, then you have a definite advantage. Thus the time spent previewing now helps you to perform better during the learning phase. The note taking technique used during the Learning phase must accomplish two things: (a) r e c o r d a n a c c u r a t e a c c o u n t o f t h e m a i n c o n c e p t s a n d i m p o r t a n t d e t a i l s o f t h e l e c t u r e ( b ) allow for quick review of the main concepts and important details of the lecture There are several things a student should do to ensure that the two objectives mentioned above are met: 1. Arrive at class ON TIME 2. Sit UP FRONT 3. U s e a LOOSE-LEAF NOTEBOOK 4. Always TITLE and DATE your notes 5. Be PREPARED f o r c l a s s - PREVIEW 6. Take notes in your OWN WORDS 7. U s e KEYWORDS Review Efforts to take good notes in the Learning phase will pay off when it comes time to review. Notes that are designed properly will allow a student to review the lecture in a very short period of time. The review session typically involves the following steps: 1. R e a d n o t e s a s s o o n a s p o s s i b l e a f t e r c l a s s 2. Fill in recall column (Comell Notes) with key words or?'s 3. S u m m a r i z e n o t e s i n a c o u p l e s e n t e n c e s a t b o t t o m 4. Fill in any missing blanks S p e n d i n g time immediately after class to review notes will pay off greatly later on in the term. The 10 minutes o r s o y o u s p e n d e a c h d a y r e v i e w i n g y o u r n o t e s w i l l a c t u a l l y h e l p y o u t o r e t a i n u p t o 7 5 % o f t h e l e c t u r e material. Compare this to a student who loses 50% of the information within the first hour after class. By the time the exam arrives, that student will have 80% of the material to put back into memory, whereas you will only need to replace 25%.
14 Examinations Page 14 Study The fourth phase of the cycle involves studying the material covered that day. Your preparation for exams must begin on the very first day of classes and continue throughout the entire term. The review sessions that take place in phase 3 help to keep you up-to-date and greatly reduce the amount of time you must spend studying for tests. The object of the study phase is to organize your individual lecture notes into larger groups so that you see the 'big picture'. In other words, 'we had three lectures this week, how are they related'. When you grasp the overall organization of the lectures, you can begin to write summaries for the week so that later on you can quickly review a whole week of lectures in a short period of time. After completing the Study phase, one would begin to preview material for the next lecture, and thus, the cycle continues. The best part is that one more day has passed and you have managed to keep up. R e m e m b e r t h e d a y s w h e n o n e m o r e d a y w o u l d p a s s a n d y o u w o u l d b e o n e d a y f u r t h e r b e h i n d?