On October 23rd, 2014, we updated our
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Carolyn (not her real name and not important) never missed class and she was never seated anywhere but in the front row of the lecture hall.
Carolyn was always prepared with working pens of different colours, plenty of paper and a no nonsense approach to each lecture; she was there to record everything she could so that she could study for tests and exams
Jim (this actually is this person’s name) was easily distracted (that is when he found the time to attend the lecture) as evidenced by the “doodling” that could be found on his painfully disorganized “notes” (term used loosely)
Jim in spite of his “hit and miss” approach did show enough sense to listen, observe, answer a question or two and record what he believed were some important points from the lecture
Ian really is not worth the time spent typing these words as he never attended the lectures; 8 am was just not a time he enjoyed being awake.
We will have to wait until later to find out why Ian is part of this overall story and what it is we can learn from his actions.
Carolyn on the surface was the best prepared and so her approach was to wait until it was sensible to begin to “study” from her notes for the Midterm and ultimately the final exam
Jim had a less than complete sense of what was required to do well on the Midterm but he felt that he could, with some work, “piece together” enough of what was covered during the lectures to be successful
Ian on any level was in trouble
Ian was forced to beg Carolyn for her notes; in fact he had to buy her lunch (twice) in order to get her notes photocopied
Ian, once he had the notes, decided to approach Jim to ask him if he would help him understand the material to be found in Carolyn’s extensive notes; lucky for Ian, Jim needed some gaps filled in and so was only too happy to oblige
The study group in this case a pair was born
What happened was “serendipitous” which is something unexpected happened when Ian and Jim got together to study from Carolyn’s and Jim’s notes
Analyzing the process in retrospect Carolyn’s notes represented the content presented by the professor during lecture but Jim’s represented the critical thinking that is so often missed when someone takes notes
By using both sets of notes “after the lecture” the two learners (regardless of their shortcomings) looked at the material for the first time using methods like the inquiry based approach and I.C.E (Ideas, Connections, Extensions). They had to given their respective “track record” on getting the information first hand from the lectures
The benefits of Jim’s notes and observations were that they were his “thoughts and reflections” on key pieces of material. Ian would question and Jim would provide an answer which often would lead to further discussion (a notable element of the I.C.E method)
In the end the exercise was (albeit unknowingly) fruitful for both because it required that they do more than “know” the information; it required that they understand and be able to express, support and expand upon their understanding
Go to class
Take notes in class BUT…
Be sure to observe, participate, perform activities if there are opportunities to do so
Record information that “stands out” as important, record questions that you find yourself thinking about, personalize key points by writing down your thoughts at the time
Use the notes from class within 48 hours to expand upon and “personalize” the information from class
Do this “expansion” on another sheet of paper(s) and be sure to do more than “transcribe” what is on the original note
Use the “after lecture” opportunity to predict future questions, reflect on the information and compare and contrast the information with subject matter learned prior to the lecture