I can’t really remember when I started doing this, but I’m pretty sure it was sometime around my Junior year of undergrad. Okay. Wait a minute. Actually, I can tell you exactly when I started doing this! I remember it like it was yesterday… it was indeed the fall semester of my Junior year. Apologize by OneRepublic was on the radio every 15 seconds and Facebook was still the only social media network we needed.
I was in a World Civilizations class (which somehow made me hate my favorite subject… history!). My professor was wonderfully nice, but she literally, LITERALLY typed entire pages/paragraphs of notes onto her PowerPoint slides. At first, I joined the whole class in frantically trying to copy each slide word for word, until I figured out that I could quickly read the paragraph, then paraphrase it into one or two sentences.It was like reaching this super state of zen or something.
I was able to stay so calm during her lectures while everyone else stressed about the slides. And yes, that is the only time in my life that I have been less stressed than… oh, I don’t know, anyone else. A lot of people went on to drop or fail that class (her tests were also 100 questions long). But not me. In fact, I did so well that it ended up being my first time to be exempt from an exam! Once I started grad school, I learned why paraphrasing the notes helped me so much.
And I totally love the reason because… it’s science! It turns out that what I was doing (just to save my hand from getting a cramp) was called active listening. Instead of mindlessly copying words without thinking, I was forcing myself to comprehend the material before I could write it. That way, when I re-read my notes, I totally understood them because they were all in MY own words to begin with!
On top of active listening, this gave me ownership over the notes… I created them. They were my words, my examples; not my professor’s. And we all love the things that we create, right? That’s why teachers aren’t supposed to use red ink to grade papers anymore… It’s just too traumatic for us to see our beautiful creations all covered in that mean-old red ink!
Below, I have listed some articles on effective note taking, but the one I like the most is University of Reading because it compares Active Note-Taking and Passive Note-Taking! Passive Note-Taking includes things like underlining, highlighting, and copying from Power Point slides! All of our favorite things to do! When you look around your classroom, you are probably swimming in a sea of Passive Note-Takers!
BUT who wants to do more work and get less out of it? No one, that’s who! So check out these examples of Active Note-Taking! Go into class with a purpose and with questions about the topic! Try to connect the new information you’re learning to other information that you already know! Think of your own examples. And, of course, write notes in your own words! (unless you need to remember a direct quote, obviously).
Less writing, less study time, and better understanding of the topic?
Ummm… yes, please! 🙂
Here is a really cool article about Effective Note-Taking from University of Reading!
Do you take notes in your own words? Why or why not?
If not, do you think you might start now?