March 2

A Handout for Students on Note-taking

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When it comes to class notes, we all know that students would much rather get the teacher’s notes or PowerPoints than write their own for lots of reasons. They’re getting the content straight from the expert. It makes note-taking less work, and they don’t have to decide what to write down. Further, lots of students don’t like to take notes, and many don’t take very good ones. Having the teacher’s notes keeps students covered if they don’t feel like taking notes or attending class, but the research on note-taking is clear: students need to take notes for themselves.

I wrote this article to help you explain to your students not only why they need to take notes but how to take good notes—the kind of notes that become valuable resources when studying for an exam.

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student taking notes in class September 7, 2016

Note-Taking Strategies to Improve Learning

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This post shares a couple of items that pertain to student note-taking.

I’m always on the lookout for strategies that develop students’ note-taking skills, and economics professor Mark Maier shares a good one in the recent issue of College Teaching. He assigns a “rotating note taker” in his courses. This student serves as the class note-taker, posting his or her notes on the course management system before the next class session. The notes are graded pass/fail and count for 1 percent of the final course grade. If it’s a fail, the student learns why and is assigned another day to take and post class notes.


February 20, 2015

Why Students Should Be Taking Notes

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Students can be pretty demanding about wanting the teacher’s PowerPoints, lecture notes, and other written forms of the content presented in class. And a lot of teachers are supplying those, in part trying to be responsive to students but also because many students now lack note-taking skills. If they can’t take good notes, why not help them succeed by supplying them with notes?


January 30, 2015

How to Help Students Improve Their Note-Taking Skills

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Students love it when teachers provide class notes—the more complete the set, the better. Students want the teacher’s notes online because it’s convenient, they’re readable, well organized, and relieve the student of having to expend much effort during class. A lot of students need the teacher’s notes because they aren’t very good note-takers themselves. They practice stenography rather than note-taking, trying to get down the teacher’s words exactly. That way, even if they don’t understand, they can memorize what the teacher said and find it on the test. But that’s not learning.


January 30, 2013

Helping Students Discover the Value of a Good Set of Notes

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Students benefit from taking and having a good set of notes, even though many of them don’t see the value, don’t take good notes and like it best when they can copy word-for-word what the teacher says or has on the PowerPoint slides. We can pontificate about how students should have already been taught the value and skills of note taking. We can tell them in class, on the syllabus and the course website that they need to take notes, but I think less telling and more showing is the better way to go. This post offers a range of activities teachers can use to help students discover what a good set of notes enables them to do.


January 17, 2011

The Lost Art of Note Taking When Writing a Research Paper

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When students write essays requiring research, in the age of Wikipedia and other online resources, I worry a little, not so much about the quality of the sources themselves (that has always varied, even in the day of hardcopy sources), but about the quality or outright dearth of note taking that often accompanies the writing of research papers.


February 4, 2010

Researchers Recommend Providing Students with Partial Notes

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Course management software programs make it especially easy for instructors to provide students with a set of complete lecture notes. It seems that more instructors are doing this, as witnessed in the regularity with which students ask that the instructor’s notes be posted. But is giving students a complete set of notes a good idea?