The last topic that I have yet to cover in my service learning is on “taking effective notes.” It really bothered me that one of the instructor who taught this study skill course would only demonstrate one method, the Cornell method, as if that was the only one out there to learn. This really bothered me, so I decided to surf the web a bit and search for other types of note-taking methods. Quite frankly, I never use this method myself after learning it from this instructor nearly ten years ago. This brings me to an important point that one type of strategy doesn’t fit all.
As a class, we will begin by discussing the importance of taking notes, and also the importance of what to do with them afterwards (review, review, review). In the YouTube video below by Thomas Frank, he states
You’re not trying to get every single detail from the lecture down to your paper, and in fact the point is not to transcribe the lecture at all. Rather, it’s to learn while you are sitting in class. As you take your notes, your goal is to create and original document that represents your mental image of the subject. It’s not to record verbatim what your professor said.
Next, I would play the video below in class to watch. Before I play the video, I would tell the student that they will need to take notes on this video. Their method on how to go about doing this will be their choice. However, it needs to be either hand-written or typed (no audio or video recording for this activity).
We will then discuss as a class the 5 different methods mentioned in this video for them to fill in missing information. We will also discuss if any had a preferred method prior to watching the video and/or if they have one they now preferred. I will go on to ask the students if there are other note-taking methods not mentioned here that they found effective and use on a regular basis.
As a try-out practice activity, I will have students choose one of the 5 methods to use for the following video on “Should You Take Notes on Paper or on a Computer?” This video even talks about storing hand-written notes to be stored onto Evernote for easy access!
Learning to take effective lecture notes and understanding the need for this study skill is helpful for students success in their college coursework. Sure, some students can retain simply from active listening, but we know that this isn’t the case for most. Also, taking notes isn’t just about recording what is said, students should be deliberate in their learning. Otherwise, this just becomes another meaningless and time-consuming task.