Business, IT and Engineering Division Learning to Learn         Note Taking                                        1
Contents PageWhy do you take notes?                                          3What is different between note taking and ot...
Note Taking           This booklet contains information and activities that will help you to consider:          Why you t...
easy to read.........................................................................................................diffi...
 Analyse why your notes are hard to understand. Would advance preparation help? Do  you need to go back to an earlier st...
or revision. If a book you are using is your own, rather than making notes on paper, it    may be sufficient simply to und...
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Notetaking

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Transcript of "Notetaking"

  1. 1. Business, IT and Engineering Division Learning to Learn Note Taking 1
  2. 2. Contents PageWhy do you take notes? 3What is different between note taking and other writing? 3How satisfied are you with your current note taking/ 4How can I improve my note taking? 4Some suggestions for becoming more efficient with note taking 5 2
  3. 3. Note Taking This booklet contains information and activities that will help you to consider:  Why you take notes  Your current method of taking notes  Alternative ways of taking notes  How you could become more efficient at taking notes Why do you take notes? Note taking is considered an activity to be carried out by all students but what is the purpose of it? Before reading on, jot down the reasons you have for taking notes. Then check whether they are the same as the suggestions below. Note taking can have various aims:  To provide a record of a writer’s or speaker’s key ideas  To record sources of information  To aid memory and later recall  To help with the understanding of individual ideas  To help you to make links between related ideas  To help ideas flow  To aid planning for a piece of writing, project or a presentation - seeing what information you have  To aid the organisation of information  To aid revision, before a test or exam  To act as a symbol of progress when reading, giving a boost to your morale What is different between note taking and other forms of writing? In most cases note taking is writing for yourself so it is very personal. This means that as long as you can later make sense of what is written it does not matter what the notes look like. (There may be cases where notes are made with the view to sharing them with others, which will clearly impact on the way the notes are made.) Another characteristic of notes is that the amount of detail in them will vary according to their particular purpose. This means you need to be flexible in your approach to note taking.• How satisfied are you with your current note taking? There follows a set of opposite statements relating to notes. Tick on the line at a point that reflects your notes. 3
  4. 4. easy to read.........................................................................................................difficult to readconcise, to the point……….…………………………………………………..……… too detailedeasy to understand……………………………………………………………… hard to understandwell organised…………..……………………………………………………………badly organisednumbered/labelled pages………………………………………………………………….no systemeasy to learn from………………………………………………………………….hard to learn fromwell abbreviated…………………………………………………………..……no/few abbreviationsimportant points stand out………………………………………not easy to spot important points How can I improve my note taking? Where were your ticks? Towards the left or right? What are the priority areas for improvement? The suggestions below may help you to decide how to make changes in your note taking. If you experience difficulty reading what you’ve written, it could be that your notes are too cramped. Leaving some space between sections and for points missed would allow you to amend your notes later, possibly adding your own critical comments in another colour pen. If you feel your notes are too detailed you need to learn to be more selective in what you write down. Here are a few ideas: Try to “get into the subject” before you read or listen. Think what the book/ article/ lecture is likely to cover. Check any specialist terms you might encounter and think of some useful abbreviations for them. Write down questions you want to be answered. Glance at the previous week’s notes or notes relating to similar topics. Remember that you are not expected to write word for word what is said in a lecture. Try to write key words or phrases rather than full sentences. You need to note only the main points and any references given. Main points often come at the beginning of a lecture in the introduction and at the end in a summary or conclusion. They are often indicated by clues such as “Then we’ll turn to…” “There are 3 principal reasons for…” or “It must be stressed that…” Details can be extracted later from the literature so concentrate on what is being said and the logical thread of the presentation. If you are unsure of where information given has come from, do ask. 4
  5. 5.  Analyse why your notes are hard to understand. Would advance preparation help? Do you need to go back to an earlier stage in your course for some quick clarification of key issues? Often understanding is increased by discussion. There may be others on your course who would welcome the opportunity to talk through difficulties. Explaining a concept to someone else, for example, is a very effective way of clarifying your own thoughts! What makes your notes poorly organised? Have you thought of writing the date at the top of lesson notes to make it easier to file them in the correct order? Have you considered a colour-coding system for different topics? Once you’ve decided how you could improve your organisation, go ahead and make changes! A clear and consistent system of labelling and numbering notes makes organisation and retrieval of information so much easier. Cross-referencing to other notes can save time and help you to make links. If you find your notes difficult to learn from, it may be because of any of the problems mentioned above. A contents page which is regularly updated may help you to find information quickly and allow you to see at a glance the topics you’ve already dealt with - very motivating - and what remains to be done. Abbreviations save writing time. You can use the conventional ones and ones that relate to your particular subject. Making up your own is fine, providing they are unambiguous and you can remember what they mean at a later date! You can emphasise main points by underlining, using CAPITALS, N.B., a highlighter pen or devising your own system. Reading through the notes quickly after you’ve made them may help you to spot important points missed earlier and you can add emphasis. It may be that when you take notes has a bearing on their quality. Are your notes better when taken from books than when taken during lessons? If you have a real problem listening to information and taking notes at the same time, have you ever considered asking your tutor about the possibility of using a tape- recorder? You could either tape the entire proceedings or, if the recorder has a counter, note the number in your notes and simply record sections that are too fast or complicated, leaving a gap in your notes to fill in later. If you have an auditory learning style, you may find it very helpful to listen, rather than read notes for revision purposes. Some suggestions for becoming more efficient at note-taking Try and make changes where you’ve highlighted weaknesses in your note taking Aim to have only one set of notes. Rewriting notes to make them tidier wastes time. Also it’s easier to become familiar with a single set of notes. If you have a visual memory this will be helpful when it comes to recall in exams. Think about the information you really need. Then be bold in being selective! If you normally write on both sides of the paper, try and write on only one. It may seem extravagant but will help when “shuffling” pages to organise your notes for planning 5
  6. 6. or revision. If a book you are using is your own, rather than making notes on paper, it may be sufficient simply to underline or highlight key points. Try spreading the load. Although note taking is generally a personal activity, it could be divided out between a group, in what’s been called a note-taking co-operative. Each takes a turn at taking notes and then provides an edited version, with gaps for additions, for others who have been able to give their full attention to listening. An alternative way of spreading the load is to work with one other student. Split the lesson so that one takes notes for the first half and the other for the second. This will mean that the span of concentration needed for taking notes is halved and the listener may be able to fill in any important gaps. It’s been observed that the quality of note taking tends to decrease as a lesson progresses so this strategy could help maintain the standard. The discussion following the lesson will also allow for clarification and help with recall later. Post-it notes allow you to jot down ideas as they occur to you. Stuck on to your notes later, they can be slotted in at relevant points. Avoid using nearly the same words as the book from which you’re taking the notes. You may well feel that the author has expressed the ideas to perfection but using your own words will ensure that you don’t inadvertently plagiarise later and that you’ve thought about what you’ve read. Summaries in your own words ensure you’ve understood ideas being expressed and help long-term memory. If you have to research and take notes on a subject about which you know very little, start with a basic text on the subject to get a general picture. Use index-cards to note references to information you may want at a later stage but which you don’t need details of at present. As preparation for a lecture, you could read and then predict the headings that will come up. Write them on cards and add to them as you listen. You could adopt the technique above and record the lesson adding to your headings afterwards. Tidy up notes by boxing sections of notes in different colours. Link in odd bits of information by colour-coding or ringing them Link points by using colour, arrows, dotted lines etc. Try to make each page memorable in some way - with colour, illustrations etc. Stick to your system of abbreviations and write yourself a key if you need it at first. 6

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