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(My technical writing student, Vivinette K. Dietsche, submitted these tips for a project in 2000. –DGJ)
As an adult student, and mother of three college-aged children, experience has taught me the importance of good study skills and habits. Not only can a student “survive” college with these skills, they can actually do quite well. I took the opportunity to write this paper with my children in mind. Learning how to take lecture notes effectively is the first step college students need to make the transition from high school to college easier.
Few people realize how fast memory fades. Studies on memory have shown that, without review, 47% of what a person has just learned is forgotten in the first twenty minutes and 62% is forgotten after the first day. (University of Texas at Austin). Therefore, having good lecture notes to review can determine how well you are able to perform on exams.
1. Go to class prepared.
“Always have a plan and believe in it. Nothing good happens by accident.” — Chuck Knox, NFL football coach
- Use a three-ring binder instead of a spiral or bound book. Pages can be easily removed for reviewing. Handouts can be inserted into your notes for cross-referencing. You can insert your own out-of-class notes in the correct order (Ellis).
- Bring highlighters to class. Instructors will frequently make comments like, “This is an important concept.” Or, “Make sure you understand this.” These are direct clues that this will more than likely be on an exam. Highlighting these notes will help remind you later that this is definitely something you need to know.
- Read assigned material and previous class notes before class. Make notations about material or concepts you don’t understand. Look up vocabulary words that are unfamiliar to you. You will have a better understanding about what the instructor is lecturing about and that will allow you to better decipher the more important points of the lecture.
2. Improve your listening skills.
“Learn how to listen and you will prosper even from those who talk badly.” — Plutarch (A.D. 46 – 120). Greek biographer and philosopher