You can think about four times faster than a lecturer can speak.
Effective listening requires the expenditure of energy; to compensate for the rate of presentation, you have to actively intend to listen.
Note taking is one way to enhance listening and using a systematic approach to the taking and reviewing of your notes can add immeasurably to your understanding and remembering of the content of lectures.
- Develop a mind-set geared toward listening.
- Test yourself over the previous lecture while waiting for the next one to begin.
Skim relevant reading assignments to acquaint yourself with the main ideas, new technical terms, etc.
- Do what you can to improve physical and mental alertness (fatigue, hunger, time of
day, and where you sit in the classroom all affect motivation).
- Intend to listen.
Notebook Selection and Use
Adapted from How to Study in College, by Dr. Walter Pauk.
Choose notebooks that will enhance your systematic note taking: a separate notebook with full-sized pages is recommended for each course. You might wish to mark off the pages as shown below:
The Cornell Method is one technique for notetaking where a notebook page is divided into 3 sections - Cues, Lecture Notes and Summary:
- Lecture Notes, in the main section, often contains list with sublists of important
- Cues, on the left side of the page, about 2.5 inches wide, include questions to go
with the Lecture Note points. Cues should be thought-provoking questions typically
starting with Why, What is, How can.
- Summary, located at the bottom 2 inches of the page, contains statements that summarize the material.
For more information on the Cornell Method for notetaking, refer to
- Business Insider's Cornell: Perfect Way to Take Notes
- TedEd's Effective Note-taking: The Cornell Method
- Listen for the structure and information in the lecture.
- Resist distractions, emotional reactions, or boredom.
- Be consistent in your use of form, abbreviations, etc.
- Pay attention to the speaker for verbal, postural, and visual cues to what's important.
- Label important points and organization clues: main points, examples.
- When possible, translate the lecture into your own words, but if you can't don't let
it worry you into inattention!
- If you feel you don't take enough notes, divide your page into five sections and try
to fill each part every ten minutes (or work out your own formula).
- Ask questions if you don't understand.
- Instead of closing your notebook early and getting ready to leave, listen carefully to information given toward the end of class; summary statements may be of particular value in highlighting main points. There may be possible quiz questions.
- Clear up any questions raised by the lecture by asking either the teacher or classmates.
- Fill in missing points or misunderstood terms from text or other sources.
- Edit your notes, labeling main points, adding recall clues and questions to be answered.
Key points in the notes can be highlighted with different colors of ink.
- Make note of your ideas and reflections, keeping them separate from those of the speaker.
- Review your notes: glance at your recall clues and see how much you can remember before
re-reading your notes.
- Look for the emergence of themes, main concepts, methods of presentation.
- Make up and answer possible test questions