Note Taking Skills

Topics: Writing, Mind map, Annotation Pages: 5 (1786 words) Published: June 23, 2013
Note taking and note making is one of the most fundamental and important tasks that students must do. It cannot be doubted that a student that takes notes during lectures is more likely to achieve a higher grade compared to a student that does not. However, note taking might not have the positive effect the student wants if it is not done properly. “What to note down, how much to note down and how detailed the notes should be, takes time to develop” (Open University Malaysia [OUM], 2011, p. 92). Thus, this essay will focus on explaining the different methods of note making, how to take notes from printed materials and ways to develop good note taking skills during lectures. But first, an important question needs to be addressed. Why even take notes in the first place?

This is without a doubt an easy question to ask, considering the fact that most students have access to the lecture notes and text books which might be heavier than they would prefer it to be. However, it is a common misconception, made by countless number of students, to be under the impression that their text books would cover everything they need to know (Coacher, 2011). Everything that might be evaluated in assessments might not be in the textbook and it is unlikely that one would recollect everything discussed in every lecture of each module. Therefore, note taking is infinitely more important than what most students would have been considering it to be at first and it would save a great amount of time as well. Also it might actually be more complex than one would have previously imagined. This is because there is more to note taking and making than just writing down important points.

As aforementioned, there are several methods in which notes can be made or taken. And it is likely that the method which one student will prefer would not be the same as the method another student would be comfortable with. This is because, at an underlying level, no two human beings would process and remember information or memories in exactly the same way as the other. Hence, even in note taking, there is a need for distinct methods such as annotations, outline notes, column notes, mind maps and summary notes. There are even more methods of note taking and making but, in this essay, only the methods mentioned above would be discussed and explained.

One of the most commonly used methods of note taking and making is outline notes. It is very simple and easy to use. It is basically like a list of notes that is categorized into heading and many subheadings. They can sequentially numbered as well. For an example, look no further than the section one of this assignment. Even though most of the subheadings are not numbered, the information provided is formatted in such a way that the reader would have no trouble in understanding it. If the “SECTION ONE: REFERENCING” is considered as the main heading, then there are 5 levels of underlying subheadings in the section. Yet the reader should have no difficulties in deducing and understanding the content. However, it has to be noted that most of the time there would be no need for as many levels of subheading. Meaning that the average outline note would be even simpler than the section one of this assignment.

While outline notes are very simple to use, some students might not be able to follow all the subheadings. For such students, mind mapping is a great alternative. Mind mapping is done by branching out from a main idea or topic. And the sub-branches can have its own sub-branches as well. The end result would be an easy to understand visual representation of a topic or an idea. Additionally, this method is especially advantageous when quickly brainstorming an idea or topic, as it allows students to connect and compare all the concepts of the topic or idea better than most of the other methods of note taking and making. There are other numerous instances in which mind mapping can be used such as when in the process...
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