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Note Taking for University Students A Guide on Note Taking in Lectures Alaa Al-Musalli, Ph.D. firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are 8 important questions about lecture note taking:1. What is note taking in lectures?2. Why do you need to take notes in lectures?3. What is the note taking process?4. What should you do before, while and after listening to lectures?5. What are the common note taking techniques?6. What should you write down in lecture notes?7. Why/How do you use symbols and abbreviations in notes?8. How can you evaluate notes?
1. What is Note Taking in Lectures?Note Taking in Lectures means: Writing down only the important information that you hear in lectures.Important Information is:1. Useful or New Information and Vocabulary2. Main Ideas = the main topics discussed in the lectures3. Some Details = examples, names of people or countries, dates, numbers, etc.
What are Good Notes?Good Notes = tidy, readable, and include the important points.
Is Copying from the Board Note Taking?Lecture Visual Student’s Notes
Copying from the board without adding any of theinformation that the lecturer says is NOT note taking.
2. Why Do You Need to Take Notes in Lectures?You take notes to:1. keep a record of the important information in lectures,2. help you understand lectures,3. help you prepare for exams, and4. help you do a listening exercise or test.
3. What is the Note Taking Process? Using Notes Listening and Selection and Noting Down for a Comprehension Important Information Purpose
4. What Should You Do Before, While and After Listening to Lectures?
Prepare before your Lectures! HOW? Read some information about the topics before the lectures to help you understand and take better notes. WHY?Because you will:• not have to think about the meaning of new vocabulary,• be able to guess the content of the lectures,• be able to guess the organization of the lectures, and• know the important information of the lectures.
Listen to the Introductions of Lectures Listen carefully and take notes while you listen to the introductions of lectures. WHY?Because they give you:• the topic,• the main words or vocabulary used,• how the topic links to the other parts of the course,• what the lectures do not cover, and• the organization of the lectures.
Listen to the Bodies of Lectures TAKE NOTES!To help you understand the structure of lectures and take good notes:• listen for verbal clues (phrases that signal lecture parts),• watch for visual clues (signs the lecturer makes), and• ask yourself questions about the content of the lecture.
Listening to the Conclusions of Lectures ADD INFORMATION TO YOUR NOTES! WHY?Most conclusions give you a summary of the most importantinformation in lectures.
Review and Complete your Notes! WHEN? Review and complete notes as soon as possible after lectures while the information is still fresh in your brain. HOW?• Read a chapter or paper about the lecture topic.• Compare your notes with those of another student.
5. What are the Common Note Taking Techniques? 1. Outline, 2. Pattern, 3. Linear, and 4. A Combination of the above.
Outline Notes The Most Recommended and Used If you like learning lists, this is the technique for you! This technique helps you:• take selective notes,• show the relationship between the ideas in lectures easily,• discover the organization of the material, and• arrange the material in a logical way.
Types of Outline Notes1. Detailed outline notes (noting down the keywords of the lecture and some details).2. Skeleton outline notes (noting down only the keywords of the lecture without writing details)
Examples of Outline NotesDetailed Outline Skeleton Outline
Outline NotesProper Indentation Makes Outline Notes Easy to Read Later!I. Introduction Topic: Main Idea:II. Body A. Supporting Idea 1. Supporting Detail 2. Supporting Detail 3. Supporting Detail B. Supporting Idea 1. Supporting Detail 2. Supporting Detail 3. Supporting Detail C. Supporting Idea 1. Supporting Detail 2. Supporting Detail 3. Supporting DetailIII. Conclusion
Pattern NotesAlso known as: Branching, Spray-Diagrams, Spider Diagrams, Mind Maps, or Explosion Charts
Pattern NotesIf you are a visual learner, this is the technique for you!This technique helps you:• show the importance of the ideas,• show the links between the main ideas,• add new information because you have space,• write and read quickly because you use only words and phrases,• remember the notes easily because each pattern looks different from the other, and• save paper because the notes are short.
Example of Pattern Notes DetailDetail Fact Fact Fact Detail Main Idea Fact Fact
Example of Pattern Notes Main Idea Fact Fact FactDetail Detail
Linear NotesThis is the technique for you if:• you cannot understand the lectures,• you feel that everything in important,• you are afraid of missing out important information,• you can write quickly in lectures, and• you can review and complete your notes on the same day after the lectures.
Which Note Taking Technique should YOU Use? There is No One Best Way to take notes in Lectures. BECAUSE Students think and study in different ways. SOUse the Note Taking Technique YOU find Easy and Useful for YOU. ORMake YOUR OWN Note Taking Technique by combining the three techniques.
Which Note Taking Technique should YOU Use?When reviewing your notes, think of:1. the effectiveness of your notes: is the information in your notes good/useful/enough?,2. whether the technique you used was the best for your note taking purpose, and3. whether the technique you used was the best for taking notes from the type of lecture you attended.
6. What Should You Write Down in Lecture Notes?In order to save time while taking notes in lectures, write down:• content words, i.e. nouns, adjectives, verbs, and most adverbs - these give you the content of the lecture (Do NOT write down form words, i.e. auxiliaries, determiners, and pronouns),• negative expressions,• words with prefixes and suffixes,• important diagrams and drawings,• whatever is written on the board, and• the lecturer’s comments on the information written on the board.
Think of the information in the lectures as Units (or Information Units).An Information Unit is:A word, an abbreviation, a symbol, a phrase, or a sentence, representingan independent idea from the lecture.
Examples of Information Units:‘left’ = word‘L.L.’ = abbreviation‘→’ = symbol‘left hemisphere’ = phraseAll the above say the same thing:‘Language is located in the left hemisphere of the brain’ = sentence
7. Why/How do You Use Symbols and Abbreviations in Notes? WHY?Using Symbols and Abbreviations in Notes makes Note Taking Easy and Fast. HOW?• Memorize a selection of useful symbols and abbreviations – these can be found in some of your books and on websites, e.g. the abbreviation ‘C’ for ‘Carbon’ in Chemistry, common abbreviations – ‘max.’ for ‘maximum’, the symbol < for ‘bigger/smaller’ in Maths, etc.• Invent your own symbols and abbreviations since notes are private.
8. How can You Evaluate Notes?QUESTION: Which of the below do you usually use to write down the information units in your notes?1. Abbreviations,2. Symbols,3. Words,4. Phrases,5. Complete Sentences.ADVICE:It’s fine to use any type of the above, but try to use the first four more!
How to Evaluate Notes!QUESTION: Which type of notes and information units do you often combine?1. Outline using phrases and abbreviations.2. Linear using abbreviations and symbols.3. Outline using phrases and words.4. Pattern using phrases, words, and symbols.5. Pattern using words and abbreviations.6. Linear using phrases and sentences.7. Outline and pattern using sentences, phrases, words, symbols and abbreviations.ADVICE:• It’s fine to use any type because the notes are private - as long as you can understand the notes, they are good!• Remember that the Quality of Information in your notes is More Important than their Quantity.
Did you Know?• Women are better Note Takers than men! So borrow their notes and learn from their Note Taking Techniques.• Upper-level university students are better Note Takers than lower level students because Note Taking skills develop through the years.• If you have a lot of background knowledge about a topic, and the lecturer is not saying anything new, you DON’T have to take notes.• If you are tired or exhausted, it is better to concentrate on only listening to the lecture rather than listening and taking notes, but DON’T make it a habit because Note Taking is important for learning.• If you cannot understand anything the lecturer is saying, try to write everything down because Note Taking helps you concentrate and understand.
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