Effective Note Taking TechniquesIt takes more than a pen! Learning Assistance Center 120 University Pavilion 513-556-3244 www.uc.edu/learningassistance
The Cornell System • 2. Before the Lecture • Read or skim text • General overview • New items and concepts • Unclear material • Gaps in information • 1. Purpose of Note Taking • Aids comprehension and retention • Outline of important points • Clarification of ideas • Source for review Effective Note Taking • 3. During the Lecture • Structure and organization • Content • 4. After the Lecture • Immediate review • Completion • Retention • Rewrite notes • Outlining • Mapping
Introduction: • The Cornell method provides a systematic format for condensing and organizing notes without laborious recopying. After writing the notes in the main space, use the left-hand space to label each idea and detail with a key word or "cue."
Method: • Rule your paper with a 2 ½ inch margin on the left leaving a six-inch area on the right in which to make notes. During class, take down information in the six-inch area. When the instructor moves to a new point, skip a few lines. After class, complete phrases and sentences as much as possible. For every significant bit of information, write a cue in the left margin. To review, cover your notes with a card, leaving the cues exposed. Say the cue out loud; say as much as you can of the material underneath the card. When you have said as much as you can, move the card and see if what you said matches what is written. If you can say it, you know it.
Note sheet format for the Cornell system 2.5” 6” 2” During the lecture class the student writes notes in the wide (6’’) column. To study from the notes, the student writes either cue words or questions in the narrow column and a summary in the space at the bottom of the note sheet.
Taking Lecture Notes • To help you better understand and remember the content of lectures, record a speaker’s ideas while they are being presented. Several methods are used to take good notes.
Preparation • Use a large loose-leaf notebook. Use only one side of the paper, making sure that you label, number and date each sheet in topical or chronological order. Fit the note-filled sheets into the binder after each class. Draw a vertical line 2 1/2 inches from the left side of your paper. This is the recall column. Notes will be taken to the right of this margin. Later key words or phrases can be written in the recall column. (Cornell System)
During the Lecture • Record your notes in simple paragraph form. Don’t bother to make elaborate outlines. Strive to capture general ideas. Skip lines to show the end of thoughts and/or ideas. Use abbreviations or symbols to give yourself extra time. Write legibly. Your object should be to make your notes complete enough so they will have meaning for you weeks and months later.
After the Lecture • Read and consolidate your notes right after class or sometime that evening and make them more legible. Using the recall column on the left side of the page, jot down key words or ideas from the lecture. Overlap your notes showing only recall columns and you have your review.
Step 1:Record (During Lecture) write down facts and ideas in phrases use abbreviations when possible (After Lecture) read through your notes fill in blanks and make scribbles more legible Step 2:Reduce or Question (After Lecture) write key words, phrases or questions that serve as cues for notes taken in class cue phrases and questions should be in your own words Step 3:Recite with classroom notes covered, read each key word or question recite the fact or idea brought to mind by key word or question Step 4: Reflect Thinking about and applying the facts and ideas that you have learned You reflect by asking questions Step 5:Review review your notes periodically by reciting think about what you have learned Step 6:Recapitulation (After Lecture) summarize each main idea use complete sentences The Cornell Note Taking System Made Simple:
6 Steps of the Cornell System Explained • Record • Simply record as many facts and ideas as you can in the six-inch column. • Do not be concerned with getting every word down that the lecturer says or with writing your notes grammatically correctly. • Learn to write telegraphic sentences or a streamlined version of the main points of the lecture by leaving out unnecessary words and using only key words. • To ensure that your notes make sense weeks later, after the lecture is over, fill in blanks or make incomplete sentences complete. • (During Lecture) write down facts and ideas in phrases, use abbreviations when possible. • (After Lecture) read through your notes, fill in blanks and make scribbles more legible
6 Steps of the Cornell System Explained 2. Reduce or question • After you read through your notes, your next step is to reduce important facts and ideas to key words or phrases, or to formulate questions based on the facts and ideas. • Key words, phrases, and questions are written in the narrow column left of the six-inch column. • The words and phrases act as memory cues so that when you review them, you will recall the ideas or facts. • The questions help to clarify the meanings of the facts and ideas.
6 Steps of the Cornell System Explained 3. Recite • Recitation is a very powerful process in the retention of information. • Reciting is different from rereading in that you state out loud and in your own words the facts and ideas you are trying to learn. • It is an effective way to learn because hearing your thoughts helps you to sharpen your thinking process; and stating ideas and facts in your own words challenges you to think about the meaning of the information. • When reciting, cover up your notes in the six-inch column, while leaving the cue words and questions uncovered and readily accessible. • Next, read each key word or question, then recite and state aloud, in your own words, the information. • If your answer is correct, continue on through the lecture by reciting aloud.
6 Steps of the Cornell System of Note Taking Explained 4.Reflect • Reflection is pondering or thinking about the information you have learned. Reflecting is a step beyond learning note content. It reinforces deeper learning by the relating of facts and ideas to other learning and knowledge. • Questions like the following enhance reflecting: How do these facts and ideas fit into what I already know? How can I apply them? How is knowing this important? What is the significance of these facts and ideas?
6 Steps of the Cornell System of Note Taking Explained 5. ReviewThe way to prevent forgetting is to review and recite your notes frequently. A good guideline to follow is to review your notes nightly or several times during the week by reciting, not rereading. • Brief review sessions planned throughout the semester, perhaps weekly, will aid more complete comprehension and retention of information than will cramming the day before a test. It will cut on stress too!
6 Steps of the Cornell System of Note Taking Explained 6. Recapitulate • The recapitulation or summary of your notes goes at the bottom of the note page in the two-inch block column. • Taking a few minutes after you have reduced, recited, and reflected to summarize the facts and ideas in your notes will help you integrate your information. • The summary should not be a word-for-word rewriting of your notes. • It should be in your own words and reflect the main points you want to remember from your notes. • Reading through your summary (ies) in preparation for an exam is a good way to review. There are three ways to go about summarizing: 1. Summarize each page of notes at the bottom of each page. 2. Summarize the whole lecture on the last page. 3. Do both 1 and 2, in combination
Standard Abbreviation and Symbols Symbols are helpful to students to take notes faster. You should use only the abbreviations that fit your needs and that you will easily remember. On the next slides are some abbreviations and some rules about abbreviations. You should use only those that fit your needs and that you will remember easily. A good idea is to introduce only a few abbreviations into your note taking at a time. Overuse may leave you with a set of notes that are difficult to read. Here are some examples
Frequently Asked Question 1 I often get sleepy in class; do you have any advice on how I can stay awake?
Answer When you become sleepy in class it may be due to lack of oxygen. There is a four step, 30 second exercise you can do if this occurs. Step 1. Straighten your spine. Put both feel on the floor, uncross your arms and legs, sit up straight and hold your head up straight. Step 2. Take a deep breath and hold it. While you hold it, tense the muscles in your body. Begin with the muscles in your feet, then legs, thighs, and so forth, steadily moving up your body, ending with the arms and hands. Hold these muscles tense for the count of five and then relax and exhale. Step 3. Breathe deeply three times. Inhale slowly and deeply, breathing into your belly as well as your chest. Pause momentarily at the top of the breath and then exhale completely. When you have exhaled as much as you can, force out more air by contracting your muscles. Do this breathing exercise three times. Step 4. Repeat the steps mentioned in Step 2. You have now successfully activated all of your muscles and filled your body with oxygen. With practice you can do this exercise in class without your classmates or professor noticing
Frequently Asked Question 2 I take notes in class, but cannot read my own writing. Can you help?
Get to the root of the problem. The problem is not bad handwriting, but the impact, you cannot read your notes and have difficulty studying the lecture materials. Set goals for improvement. Setting short term goals to improve your handwriting is a good step. Make sure you are specific about the results you intend on achieving. Use creative visualizations. Find a quiet spot during a time of the day when you are typically relaxed. Close your eyes and relax your entire body. Visualize yourself taking notes in class and writing legibly. Practice this daily and the results will come soon enough. Cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s. The time you spend dotting and crossing will eliminate the time spent scratching your head trying to figure out what you have written! Change your pen to change your handwriting. Perhaps use two or three different types of pens and/or pencils to write your notes. Pens come with different ball points. Some are fine, others are medium. See which one is the better fit for you. If neither works, there is also a pen. Use your laptop. Some students have laptop computers. While you will be able to read your notes if you type them during lecture, one must also be able to type fairly quickly. Also this may disrupt others in the classroom or your professor. Ask your professor’s permission before choosing this as an option. When all else fails, PRINT! Printing is one way students can write lecture notes and limit the amount of misunderstanding that comes with illegible handwriting. Printed notes can also be read faster when it comes time to review for midterms and final exams. Photocopy notes. Ask one of your classmates if you can photocopy their notes. Answer
Frequently Asked Question 3 My professor talks too fast, is what can I do?
Take more time to prepare for class. If you are familiar with the subject, you are more likely to pick out key points during the lecture. A thorough preview of the class reading should be conducted before you attend class. This will set the stage for your understanding of the material and the lecture. Be willing to make choices. You can be consumed with the fact that the professor talks to fast or you can focus you attention on the key points of the actual lecture. Choose what you think is important, and revise your notes immediately after the class is over. Exchange photo copies of notes with your fellow classmates. There may be people in your class who are good at taking notes and following the lecture, though the professor talks fast. Ask one or two people in the class if you can photocopy their notes to ensure you have not missed any of the main points from the lecture. This exchange could prove very valuable to all parties involved, because you are helping one another. Leave large empty spaces in your notes. You want plenty of room to fill in any information you may have missed during the lecture. Use abbreviations and symbols (some of which are listed in this booklet on page 10) and when you are rewriting your notes after class, write the full meanings of these items. See the instructor after class. Some professors are willing to help you with your note taking. Share your notes with the professor and ask if you have written the correct information. This is also an opportunity to ask questions that you were unable to during the class lecture. Use a tape recorder. Using a tape recorder is a good way to ensure you get all of the notes from the class lecture. These devices are pretty inexpensive for students to purchase. You are able to listen to the lecture whenever you choose to. Another benefit of tape recorders is that they enable you to slow the professor’s speech to a speed comfortable for you. All students should seek permission from the instructor before tape recording their lecture. Attend another section of the professor’s lecture. Many professors have more than one section. Get permission to attend a different section of the class and that provides you with the opportunity to hear the lecture again. Perhaps you can use this second time to fill in any missing notes from your normally scheduled lecture class. Answer