Note Taking Cues

When the instructor says 'this is important' or 'note this', or gives a non-verbal cue that the content being discussed is important, it can enhance the student's note-taking. They can also listen to the cues to help them organize their lessons.

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Note Taking

Students who take notes during a lecture or presentation achieve more than those who just passively listen.

Note-taking makes one's attention focused on the ideas being discussed, and also leads to a review of the lesson being taught. It is a good idea to take complete and detailed notes, as one study shows that the more note the students take, the higher is their achievement. Omitting details or examples is common among students, but is not advisable.

Revision of notes, done right after the lecture, is a crucial step so that any missing lesson ideas can be filled using our short-term memory.

  • Hand-written notes are better than laptops as the latter can be distracting, with students checking email or playing games. It also distracts nearby students.

  • Laptop notes are inferior as they are verbatim and shallow.

  • Hand-written notes are well-thought-out, summarized and have a lot of graphic information that is missing from laptop notes.

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In an experiment, students were given Ted Talks to watch and were told to take notes, half with laptops, the other with pen and paper.

  • The students using a keyboard were more likely to type the lecturers' words verbatim without processing the information. 
  • The students writing by hand were slower and had no choice but to engage with the information in order to write down summaries. Afterwards, they were better able to explain the concepts covered in the lecture.
  1. Determine the columns you'll need. e.g. date/event/impact/pros & cons, etc. The average amount of columns is usually between 4 and 6.
  2. Create a document title on the top of the page.
  3. Label your columns with the name of your categories.
  4. Start note-taking. Write out each fact under its relevant column. Keep it concise by using abbreviations, shortcuts, and your own personal code devices.

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