Module Seven NOTE-TAKING TIPS

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1 Module Seven NOTE-TAKING TIPS INTRODUCTION Studies on memory have concluded that within 20 minutes you will forget approximately 40% of what you have read or heard; within 24 hours you may have forgotten as much as 70%. Based on those statistics alone, it makes sense to find methods that will help you remember as much as possible for as long as possible. Taking good notes is one way to ensure your success as a student. COMPONENTS OF GOOD NOTE-TAKING Effective note-taking consists of three major parts: observing, recording, and reviewing. You observe an event by listening and watching; you record the observation of the event by taking notes ; and finally, you review what you have recorded. Here are some tips for each area. Observing: 1. Read material before class, complete outside assignments. 2. Bring the right materials for each class. 3. Sit as close to the front of the class as possible; you get a better view of visual aids and have fewer distractions. 4. Stay focused; visualize that the instructor is talking only to you. 5. Watch for the instructor s body language and tone of voice. 6. Listen for specific comments or key words. 7. Let go of judgments about the instructor or the teaching style. Recording: 1. Use a loose-leaf, different- colored, three-ring binder for each subject. 2. Write on only one side of the paper. 3. Use the Cornell format of dividing the page into 2 columns; write notes in the wider right hand column, leaving the left side blank for additional notes, questions, or review. 4. Use an outline format to list major points and supporting ideas. 5. Always date your notes. 6. Develop a system of shorthand abbreviations. 7. Use graphic symbols, such as an I m Lost symbol 8. Use complete sentences only for direct quotes, definitions, or important points emphasized by the teacher. 9. Leave some blank spaces in your notes to fill in later. 10. Use a tape recorder only as a backup, not to take the place of notes. 1

2 Reviewing: 1. Read over your notes as soon as possible after class, preferably within the first 8 hours. 2. Rewrite any notes to clarify questions, make more legible, or add information. 3. Paraphrase notes into your own words. 4. Highlight key words and main ideas. 5. Rewrite your notes on the computer. 6. Create a graphic organizer, such as a chart, table, map 7. Check the textbook for subtitles, boldfaced words, illustrations, summaries that may correlate to notes. 8. Review all notes at least once weekly. 9. Ask for help if you are still confused or unsure: an instructor, a classmate, a study group, a tutor SUPER SYSTEM GET READY Read the textbook, do homework, review notes, have materials WRITE Date, use one side of the paper, list major points, use key words and abbreviations, leave space for questions and more information EDIT Review notes as soon as possible after class, make clear and legible ASK QUESTIONS Rewrite main ideas or details into questions, predict questions TEST YOURSELF Cover notes and answer questions in your own words, answer questions out loud, summarize main ideas, restudy if needed Using these three components and the Super System, you will be a GREAT note-taker! 2

3 EVALUATING NOTE-TAKING STRATEGIES PRE-CLASS PROCESS How effectively do you prepare for taking notes? For each statement, evaluate yourself by circling A for Always, F for Frequently, or N for Seldom or Never. 1. Before class, I read or skim the textbook pages that relate to the lecture topic. 2. I make notes of questions that occur to me as I read or skim material. 3. I familiarize myself with important terms. 4. I complete readings and written assignments when they are due. 5. I review my notes from the previous session. 6. I come to class on time with all materials I need. 7. I take a seat near the front, away from distractions. 8. I assume responsibilities as a student and recognize those of the instructor. Scoring If you circled A for all six or more statements, your preclass note-taking processes are in decent shape. If you circled F for four or more statements, your skills need a little polishing. If you circled N for four or more statements, your preclass skills need work. 3

4 IN-CLASS NOTE-TAKING PROCESS How effectively do you take notes in class? For each statement, evaluate yourself by circling A for Always, F for Frequently, or N for Seldom or Never. 1. I listen carefully to the instructor. 2. If my mind wanders during a lecture, I am able to refocus my attention on the instructor. 3. I listen not just for facts but for ideas and connections between ideas. 4. Rather than prejudge the material or the instructor and tune out, I encourage myself to stay focused on the lecture. 5. I concentrate my attention on the instructor, picking up both verbal and nonverbal cues. 6. When I get lost or confused during a lecture, I continue to make an effort to reconnect with the instructor s train of thought. 7. I avoid letting my own thoughts or feelings interfere with my ability to listen. 8. I ask questions when I don t understand something. 9. As I take notes, I make an effort to distinguish the speaker s main ideas from secondary ideas and details. 10. I make my notes accurate by including detailed information and examples that support broad ideas. 11. My notes are organized to show the speaker s logic and reasoning. For example, I record cause and effect relationships, conclusions, contrasts, and summaries. 12. My notes include vocabulary words and phrases that are characteristic of the course topic. 13. When appropriate I use diagrams, graphs, and other visual ways of recording information. 14. I take notes quickly and neatly enough to record all the facts I consider important and to make them easy to review. 4

5 Scoring for In-Class Note-taking If you circled A for eight or more statements, your listening and note-taking skills are in good shape. If you circled F for eight or more statements, you believe that your skills need some polishing. If you circled N for eight or more statements, your skills may need some development or major improvement. After-Class Note-taking Strategies Use the following checklist to rate yourself on the way you use your notes after class. Circle A for Always, O for Often, R for Rarely, or N for Never. 1. I review my notes immediately after each lecture or within 24 hours. A O R N 2. I write key words or phrase-like questions in the margins. A O R N 3. I review my notes every week. A O R N 4. I use my notes for self-testing. A O R N Scoring If all or most of your ratings are A or O, you are already using good after-class strategies regarding your notes. If you answered R or N to most of the questions, you need to improve the way you use your notes after class. This information was taken from the Learning Skills Center at the University of Texas at Austin. 5

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