And finally, lecture notes
In this concluding piece on the series on learning, the focus is on taking lecture notes in a manner that aids your studies best.
CLASSROOM SKILLS: Developing the habit of taking notes while listening to lectures can improve your understanding of the subject and help in recollection. Photo: K.R. Deepak
Taking lecture notes will help you save a lot of your time for self-study. Taking notes forces you to listen to the lecture carefully and checks your comprehension. Good teachers plan their lessons well, by drawing information from different places, organising the material and presenting it in a logical order. Also, they will repeat and emphasise important points. Taking lecture notes well requires sound planning. Writing notes should not be at the expense of listening.
There are different styles of note-taking. For example, the Cornell System envisages notes being taken down on a 8.5" x 11''page, out of which a 2.5" wide left margin should carry the cues; the remaining 6'' wide area is set apart for writing the main notes. A bottom margin 2" wide is earmarked for summary. After the notes are taken, you can check how well you have learnt by trying to recite the lesson with the 6" area covered, seeing only the left margin.
The sequence of record, reduce, reflect, recite, review has to be followed. We will not enter into an academic discussion of such systems. We will confine ourselves to the most vital aspects of note-taking from a practical point of view. Remember that the process of taking notes trains you to sort out the wheat from the chaff.
It has to be stressed that taking notes is not an end in itself, but it is part of the learning process. Unless you are thorough with the previous lesson, you may not be able to follow the current lesson. So make it a point to revise the previous portions before attending the class.
Further, taking notes is intimately related to listening. Unless you listen properly, you cannot take proper notes. Listening which involves active application of the mind is different from hearing which may be passive in nature.
The following points may be kept in mind while taking notes in the classroom while the teacher gives the lecture.
- Do attend all the lectures. Depending on the class notes prepared by someone else is not the best way of learning.
- Write the date, name of the topic, and the name of the teacher at the top.
- Never attend a lecture without a proper notebook and other items of stationery you may need.
- Listen actively to find out all significant points. An eagerness to learn is an integral part of listening. If your mind is elsewhere, you cannot listen properly or take notes.
- You should not be distracted even by the teacher's mannerisms, if any. If you suspect that your mind has started to wander, bring it back to the lecture and re-focus on the ideas discussed by the teacher. Maintain eye contact with the teacher throughout the lecture.
- Think for a moment before you write. As the lesson progresses, think critically.
- Use a notebook with one-third of the page width blank so that you can add relevant material later. Leave some space between the lines for filling the gaps that arose when you could not keep pace with the lecture.
- Write legibly. You should not have to waste time by copying the notes later. `Do it first the right way' is a useful dictum. Do not write in shorthand, even if you know how to do it. This is because you may have to transcribe the matter for learning. When you come back to the notes later, you should be able to read it without any difficulty. Too much of scribbling and the use of non-standard abbreviations may render the notes unintelligible even to you. Keep the notebook neat. Never doodle in the notebook.
Make your own personal abbreviations, ones you may consistently follow right through.
You need not go for full sentences. Condense the matter. Phrases or even words will be adequate. Use standard abbreviations.
Never attempt to write in full all that the teacher says. Listening takes priority, and not writing.
Note down whatever is emphasised or repeated by the teacher, whatever is projected on a slide or other teaching aids, or written on the chalkboard. All terms, new words, definitions, and formulae should be noted. Keywords are important. We remember through keywords. Listen carefully when the teacher presents the summary of the lesson at the end of the class. It is likely that the teacher will mention all the important points at this stage.
If in your hurry you could not write out certain points, do it soon after the lecture before your memory fades. If you miss a point, do not worry about it; go ahead with what follows. Later you can consult the teacher on any point that is not clear to you.
If a point is not clear, either raise the doubt in the class straightaway, or if that is difficult, note it down so that you can get it clarified later.
Never try to record a classroom lecture on a cassette or other device. Learning later from the recorded matter is not very effective. You are likely to neglect listening if you use the gadget to do the job. The recorded matter does not offer flexibility; you will have to go through the whole lecture later unlike in the case of the notes.
Finally you are the person who has to do the learning and write the examination. The machine would not come to your rescue. There is no substitute for your own active learning.
- Use the notes regularly while reviewing the lessons.
Send this article to Friends by