Why Take Notes? “Taking notes is a great way of helping you identify important concepts in class. Even if you have a great memory, you wont be able to remember everything that the teacher says, unless you have a permanent written record for your reference”. Lombardi, Esther. www.about.com Other reasons include: Helps isolate information you want to memorize. Helps you better understand the subject matter. Helps you prioritize information. Allows you to see your thoughts regarding the subject matter.
Concepts For Better Note Taking “The central act in taking notes is not writing; listening and thinking are far more important. The key to effective note taking is to write down the right amount of information—not too much and not too little”. Sitting in the front of the class will help you to see and hear the instructor clearly and you’re less likely to be distracted. Take your notes in small phrases rather than full sentences.
Concepts For Better Note Taking Have some understanding of what you expect to learn from the book, chapter or class. Listen to the students in the class when they ask and respond to questions and make note of their answers. “Very often the first or last sentence in a paragraph, or the first or last paragraph in a section, will present a key point”. It helps to get the memorization process started by Looking at your notes as soon as possible after you take them.
Food For Thought Don’t be afraid to mark up your book if you own it. Try to highlight no more than 10% of a page, less is more. Frequently review your notes and fix any gaps and try to get answers to any questions that come up. Make sure you have all the tools you need such as pens, highlighters, notebooks or text books, flash cards and so on before you begin.
Get The Most Out Of What You Read There are so many things than can interfere with your reading comprehension such as, attention span, concentration and unavoidable distractions. Reading too quickly can impair comprehension. Identify your reading style. (holistic or analytical) Identify the themes in the reading and their value to you personally. Break up large amounts of reading into smaller chunks; take breaks.
Get The Most Out Of What You Read If thoughts pop up, stop and address them by writing them down and then move on. Schedule times to read when you are going to be alone to avoid distractions. You can get an idea of what a book is about and what the author is trying to teach by scanning or reading the front matter and the summary. Give yourself enough time to do the reading. Make notes in you own words.
Get The Most Out Of What You Read If you have a reading system in place that works for you, use it. Many students use the “SQ3R” (S-Q-R-R-R) method: Survey Question Read Recite Review Determine your reading speed by timing how long it takes you to read a chapter.
Dealing With Reading Disabilities “One of the most common kinds of learning disabilities is dyslexia, a reading disability that produces the misperception of letters during reading and writing, unusual difficulty in sounding out letters, spelling difficulties, and confusion between right and left”. “Another common disability is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (or ADHD), which is marked by an inability to concentrate, inattention, and a low tolerance for frustration”. “Many sorts of treatments, ranging from learning specific study strategies to the use of medication, can be effective in dealing with learning disabilities. In addition, colleges that accept support from the federal government have a legal obligation to provide people with diagnosed learning disabilities with appropriate support. This obligation is spelled out in the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it provides important legal protections”.
Writing Doesn’t Have To Be Painful Your paper should have a beginning, a middle and an end; “think of it in terms of the major sections: an introduction, a description of the background of an issue, arguments in favor of a position, arguments against a position, and a conclusion” Choose your topic and what audience you are trying to reach. Use free writing and or brainstorming to come up with ideas.
Writing Doesn’t Have To Be Painful Do your research. Have evidence and fact based material to support your ideas. Learn the different formats for different styles of writing. Do your writing assignments in parts. Step away from your project for a period of time and then look at it with fresh eyes. If you paraphrase you must cite the source in APA or MLA formats.
Writing Doesn’t Have To Be Painful Read and rethink your ideas before creating your final draft. Carefully check for grammar, punctuation and technical errors before submitting your work. Before you write anything make outlines of the ideas you come up with and prioritize them. Use your notes or out lines to write a first draft.
FYI There are four major types of college writing:1. Research paper. (A paper requiring abstract, critical thinking supported through the collection of existing information.)2. Essay. (A paper written from an authors personal point of view and arguing a particular point).3. Critical Review. (Criticism of an argument, article, musical piece, or other work.4. Journal. (Personal reflections on class readings or assignments).
Make Public Speaking A Little Easier Most people find speaking to a room of strangers very intimidating. There are ways to help ease anxiety that will allow you to deliver a successful presentation. Being nervous is normal, accept it. Keep in mind that you speak to people all day long so you already have experience with public speaking. Make sure the topic of your discussion and the audience you are trying to reach are a match. Use note cards to help you remember what you are talking about and to keep you on track.
Make Public Speaking Easier Make sure that your transitions between the different parts of your presentation are easily identified to avoid confusion or loss of interest. Just start talking, it will get easier as you continue. Use quotations, questions, humor and or props to get and keep your audience interested. Practice your presentation out loud and with an audience before you actually do it. Remember that most audiences are sympathetic.
Make Public Speaking Easier Avoid using slang language. Speak to your audience, not at them. Pronunciation and enunciation are key to effective communication. Speak, slowly, clearly and confidently; if you don’t believe what your saying neither will your audience. Always try to make your presentation fun to do and fun to receive.
Summary Whether you were in high school last year or decades ago, knowing skills that will help you with note taking, reading, writing and public speaking will make all the difference while you are achieving your educational goals. If you are having difficulties attend seminars and look for tutorials or tutors that will help you better understand what you are struggling with. Make your education a priority and be on the look out for concepts, examples and tools that will make the learning process less complex. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Talk to your instructors, fellow students, friends and family about topics that puzzle you. Feed back is thought provoking and allows you to think about things from different perspectives Finally, investing heavily in your study process while you are in college will help you achieve your long term career goals and allow you to be more successful in your professional and personal life.
References Lombardi, Esther, “Why take notes”, www.about.com (Feldman, Robert. P.O.W.E.R. Learning: Strategies for Success in College and Life, 5th Edition. McGraw-Hill, 01/06/2010. <vbk:0077485408#outline(22.214.171.124)>