Different Formats for Taking Good Notes in College

Different Formats for Taking Good Notes in College

Notes provide a written record of what was said during a speech, an interview, or, in the case of students, a lecture. As a result, students who know how to take good notes are better equipped to study effectively in college and be prepared for tests.

College Note-Taking Skills for Different Learning Styles

Different students have different learning styles. Some are visual learners, others auditory learners, and yet others hands-on or kinesthetic learners. Not surprisingly that essaywriterfree emphasizes that those who are auditory learners are more adept at recalling information from lectures and, therefore, can usually listen attentively, take minimal notes, and recall much of what a professor said when the lecture has ended.

Then again, even auditory learners cannot recall everything they hear and can forget key information needed for tests. Consequently, just like visual and hands-on learners, they need to learn how to take notes in college. Each type of learner, though, should experiment in order to find the note-taking format that works best for him or her personally.

Importance of Developing Note-Taking Skills for College Success

Most people are notoriously poor listeners. On average, most people grasp only 50-percent of what they hear and after two days can recall only 25-percent of that, and these percentages hold true regardless of situation or circumstances.

Therefore, it isn’t any wonder that students who rely solely upon their memory skills to help them retain enough information to study effectively for tests usually perform quite poorly on those tests. Of course, the same holds true for students who don’t know how to take good notes in college. Granted, they might fare a bit better than students who take no notes at all, but they fare much worse than students who know how to take notes efficiently.

Note-taking is perhaps the most important method of improving the retention of ideas. For students, notes provide a written record of a lecture, which they can use for studying, but, perhaps more important, the act of taking notes encourages them to be active listeners, and studies have shown that active listeners can recall more information than inactive listeners.

Rating College Note-Taking Skills for Effectiveness

Students evaluate their note-taking skills in order to gauge their effectiveness by answering such questions as these:

  • Are the notes understandable or incoherent?
  • Do they include memory triggers?
  • Do they help clarify concepts?
  • Are they organized?
  • Do they specify important dates, names, quantities, etc.?
  • Do they provide adequate preparation for tests?

If students can answer in the affirmative (yes) to all or at least most of these questions, their note-taking skills are proficient and they can survive a nightmare online learning course. However, if students answer in the negative (no) to all or most, their note-taking skills definitely need improvement.

How to Take Effective Notes in College Classes

Granted, it’s easier to take notes in some classes than in others. For example, if students are familiar with the subject matter, perhaps because they’ve taken similar courses, they probably won’t find it necessary to take many notes, and those they do take won’t have to be that complex. If the subject matter is unfamiliar, though, students will more than likely find it necessary to take extensive notes, that is, if they hope to be well prepared for tests.

Several recommendations for taking good notes in college:

  • Pay close attention: However, don’t focus solely on a professor’s words; also pay attention to body language, vocal intonations, and facial expressions. These nonverbal communicators provide important clues regarding which information is most important. (Actions and facial expressions become more animated. Voice level increases. Certain words are emphasized.) After all, if the professor thinks information is important, chances are students will be asked to demonstrate knowledge of that information on upcoming tests.
  • Adjust note-taking style to the professor: Some professors are like the Energizer Bunny on amphetamines while others are like the walking dead. Some speak so fast it’s hard to follow them while others drone on in sleep-enduring monotones. Consequently, students must adjust note-taking to accommodate their professors’ lecturing styles, sometimes taking notes in the briefest possible format, and, at other times, taking longer, more detailed notes.

Adjust note-taking style to learning style. Some students are visual learners, others hands-on, and yet others auditory, so they should find the note-taking format that works best for them personally.

Cornell Format for Taking Good Notes in College

Many students prefer the Cornell Note-Taking Model because it allows them to create a review sheet for studying while taking notes in class. In order to use this format, follow the steps below:

Put the main idea of the lecture at the top of the page in a notebook.

Draw a vertical line from top to bottom on the page, dividing it into two columns, with the left column approximately two to three inches wide and the right column taking up the remainder of the page.

While listening to a professor’s lecture, place key terms, names, and any questions that arise in the left column.

In the right column, place definitions, summaries, and answers relating to the items in the left column. For example, if the key term in the left column were “Major Theories of Creativity,” the left column would contain the theories in a numbered list:

  1. Humanistic
  2. Psychoanalytical
  3. Addiction
  4. Mental Illness
  5. Eysenck’s Theory of Psychoticism

Review the model when studying for a test; then during the test, try to visualize the items contained in each column. This note-taking format can serve as a visual memory trigger to help students answer questions correctly during a test.

Diagram Format for Taking Good Notes in College

The diagram method works well for visual and hands-on learners; it is also effective for students who have a difficult time staying focused in class. Of course, perhaps this isn’t surprising since, as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

In order to use this method, pro essay writing service suggests to simply put the subject or title of the concept the top of the page then divide the page into equal sections. For example, in a geography class, if the professor were lecturing on hurricanes, the page might be divided into four sections:

  • The first containing the average sea temperatures during hurricane season
  • The second containing the wind speeds for the different hurricane categories
  • The third containing the paths hurricanes usually travel
  • The fourth containing the height of sea surge during different categories

Outline Format for Taking Good Notes in College

Outlines are basically lists of main ideas and minor ideas, and outlining during a lecture saves time since students won’t have to organize their notes after class. Additionally, this method of note taking is especially effective for students who prefer to focus on the details as well as how the various pieces all fit together to form the big picture. However, since this is an informal outline, not one for a grade, students don’t have to format it according to established rules as a standard essay, although they might want to do the following in order to help keep information organized:

  • List the major concept as the first point (I, II, III).
  • List the main idea (A) under the first point.
  • List the aspects of the main idea (a, b, c, etc or 1), 2) 3), etc).

For example, if a student were listening to a lecture on the psychoanalytical theory of creativity, his or her notes might look like this:

I. Psychoanalytical theory

A. Major tenets

a. Creative activity comes from a need to overcome “narcissistic” injuries suffered in childhood or from redirecting unacceptable energies.

b. Creativity is an attempt to make reparations for destructiveness or to mourn a loss, or for motives Freud believed to be central to creativity – money, prestige, or sexual rewards.

c. Defense mechanisms are the origin for creative impulses.

d. Wishful, fantasy, and dreamlike primary process in creative thinking.

B. Key proponents

1. Freud, Jung, Gedo, Diamond, Ehrenzwei, Noy, Martindale, Oremland, EisenmanIn summary, these are three popular note-taking formats, but many students experience success by combining two or more methods. For example, they might use the Cornell method when they think they should concentrate on key facts and concepts, the diagram method when they think visual imagery might provide a more effective memory trigger, and the outline method when they think more extensive explanations might be necessary. After all, no one note-taking format is superior to the others. Students simply need to find the one or the combination that works best for them personally.