Friday, June 1, 2012

How to Take Notes in Class - Part 1 - Getting Ready

Taking notes is just one of the many parts of a systematic plan toward getting better grades. The student can take 2 approaches toward note-taking:
• The casual approach: This approach to note-raking reveals that you look at note-taking as just one more chore in the overall scheme of things. At some point during your school years, someone, a teacher no doubt, stressed the need for taking good notes if you expect to get good grades. Yes... that's a big part of the picture, but approaching this task in a casual manner will generally result in pages of meaningless gibberish. A good instructor/professor has a "method in this madness." A good educator will deliver each lecture or classroom review that encompasses a theme. He/she is revealing certain key elements of the subject matter that you are expected to grasp and retain. Why... ? Because the upcoming exam will test your note-taking skills.
 The scientific approach: This approach is solely dependent on you. The casual approach is one in which you tend to treat the whole matter as a joke. The scientific approach is one wherein you recognize the seriousness of the endeavor and make a sincere effort to write down those key points that the instructor is trying to make. In reality, many educators are actually handing you a copy of the upcoming exam-but those following the Casual Approach seem to miss the whole point of these sessions. The objective, you see, is to provide yourself with an outline of the subject material, which saves you the time and effort in re-reading pages and chapters of textbook material. Of course you will review the formal textbook material but having good notes will direct you toward a glimpse of what the exam will cover.
The tips listed below will only be helpful to you if you are genuinely committed to creating notes that offer you a snapshot of the lecture or classroom coverage of the subject matter, which in reality may be the instructor's method of virtually handing you a copy of the exam in advance. Now the choice is yours-you can do the right thing and record this vital information or you can shrug it off.
1. Please do not rely on someone else to take notes for you. This is often a direct route to self-destruction. Be prepared to take your own notes. This will eliminate having to figure out or interpret what your classmate is trying to convey.
2. Preparation: A good note-taking technique is to use a 3-ring binder. Lecture material isn't always given in the same order it is found in the textbook so move pages around to maintain a degree of order. Use 3-ring separators to keep lecture material and subject matter in order.
3. While it may seem painful to you-sit near or even on the front row-towards the center of the room. You will be less likely to miss keys points this way.
4. When the instructor goes the extra step of listing points on the board, overhead projector or PowerPoint slide, you can be certain that information is important-so record this in it your notes.
5. Be sure to date your notes and add headings and subheadings to keep the trend of the subject matter in some form of logical order.
6. A handy device to have on hand is a portable voice recorder, which is another reason to sit close to the speaker. A fast-talking instructor may overwhelm your manual note-taking, but you can rerun his/her lecture as many times as needed to get a grasp on what was being said.
7. Most instructors will post reading assignments in advance of lectures. Spend the time during the day before to at least skim the material. You are better-equipped to grasp the key points of a lecture if you are at least familiar with the main topics of discussion.
Note-taking can actually be fun if you don't look at it as a bore. Each key point represents a potential exam question. Educators, good educators, plan out the semester from beginning to end. They hope for the majority of their students to get good final grades. This equates to a kind of job security for them. If their students do consistently well year after year, this is a mark of a true educator and not an individual who is just filling a slot in the faculty roster.


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