Free «Note-Taking» Essay Sample

Despite understanding the material accurately and precisely, it is almost impossible to remember a huge amount of information over several weeks or months. According to the estimations of scientists, the majority of students forget more than 50 percent of information within a day. Moreover, approximately 80 percent of important information can be erased from memory in less than two weeks (Friedman 4). This problem can be easily solved with the help of effective note-taking strategies. The phenomenon of note-taking is referred to as a practice of recording information from various sources. With the help of note-taking, a person writes down a so-called “root” of the information. The purpose of the research paper is to analyze the concept of note-taking since note-taking is an effective method characterized by a vast number of benefits.

It is important to note than the strategy of note-taking has become an integral part of human development since the establishment of writing. The practice of note-taking is based on a large number of mental functions and other cognitive processes. First of all, people are required to reinterpret and filter various sources of information. Secondly, they should restructure and reorganize obtained sources of information. Thirdly, listeners have to write down their personal reinterpretation of a message quickly and accurately (Friedman 4).

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The practice of note-taking proves its significance in the process of studying. In the majority of cases, a huge amount of information provided by lecturers and instructors is extremely confusing and excessive. It is important to note that in many cases students find it difficult to differentiate the information of the primary importance from additional or unnecessary data (Friedman 5). In the process of preparing for exams or carrying out home assignments, students may find it too difficult to write extensive notes. It is considered to be time-consuming, tiresome, boring, and absolutely ineffective.

The process of note-taking is considered to be an indispensable and efficient activity for a vast number of reasons. First of all, this academic activity stimulates concentration. It develops the ability to recall and helps a person to be well-organized and attentive. In such a way, note-taking makes students feel more focused on the subject area. Secondly, this activity helps people to remember what they have read or heard in the audience. It has been proved by scientists that people work more productively and, consequently, learn more efficiently when they make use of multiple senses and other brain functions. In the process of taking notes, students subconsciously paraphrase the lecture and adapt it to personal “level” of strengths and knowledge. In other words, they transform the lecture into a format that is easier, shorter, more precise, and deprived of redundant words and phrases. Thirdly, note-taking helps individuals to structure personal opinions more precisely and accurately. Fourthly, lecture notes serve as an outline of the basic ideas and thoughts from the lecture. Besides, these notes can be used with the purpose to clarify and define more accurately not fully understandable and ambiguous ideas from the textbook or lecture. In other words, the notes of lectures can be used as a so-called gauge of what is the most important and worth reading. As a result, lecture notes together with notes from a textbook can function as perfect review materials for tests or exams. Having reviewed and analyzed the notion of note-taking and the importance of this academic activity, the information concerning the strategies and methods of effective note-taking should be taken into consideration (Friedman 6).

In order to obtain the qualities and skills of an effective note-taker, each person has to explore several strategies of note-taking applied before, during, and even after the lecture. To start with, before the lecture a person is recommended to skim or read the text. This will provide the listeners with an opportunity to receive a general overview of the most important facts, thoughts, and ideas. Besides, in the course of the lecture, each person will be able to differentiate important information from irrelevant. During the lecture, a student is recommended to use a textbook in order to make the notes more precise and clear. While attending the lecture, a so-called note-taker should pay attention to unfamiliar concepts and terms. However, students may also review unknown or vague definitions before the lecture in order to reduce or minimize confusion when the lecturer explains the meaning of these terms. Finally, before the lecture, students are advised to determine and distinguish the material that sounds too complicated and unclear (Boch and Piolat 106).

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There are many rules and recommendations that enhance the effectiveness of note-taking during the lectures. First of all, students should start every new lecture on a separate page. Besides, they are advised to write the notes on one side of the paper as it will ensure greater legibility and, consequently, will provide more freedom in the process of organizing notes. Besides, all notes should be dated and numbered. It should be stated that effective note-taking involves various abbreviations, standard as well as non-standard symbols, and contractions. Blank spaces and indentions are welcomed with the purpose to differentiate major and minor ideas and thoughts. Finally, students may use margins in order to designate questions and commentaries (Boch and Piolat 110).

After the lecture a student is recommended to look through the notes as soon as possible. Missing and vague information should be added and cleared up with the help of a textbook or under the control of a lecturer or classmates. Information from the lecture should be paraphrased and summarized in own words. Mapping is considered to be one of the most helpful and effective ways that may be used for determining and differentiating between major and secondary points and ideas (Boch and Piolat 110).

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At present, there are numerous ways to take notes, including the Cornell Method, the Outlining Strategy, and the Mapping Method. In addition, some researchers differentiate the Charting Strategy and the Sentence Strategy (Friedman 11). The Cornell Method is based on the idea of two different columns. One of the columns contains the list of keywords and concepts. The other one includes information about the keywords and phenomena. As a rule, this method is used by students while listening to the lecturer. At the bottom of every page students are recommended to summarize important information written in notes. The Cornell Method is considered to have numerous advantages as it is uncomplicated, effective, and well-organized. Furthermore, it saves much time as well as efforts (Jacobs 119).

The Outlining Strategy is based on writing a number of topics and subtopics. This strategy of note-taking is characterized by a well-thought structure and clear organization. The method of mapping involves the application of comprehension and concentration skills. This method enhances active participation and develops critical thinking. The Charting Method implies that a student divides a piece of paper into separate columns with appropriate subheadings. According to this method of note-taking, important information should be inserted into the appropriate category. The Charting Method helps to distinguish the most relevant pieces of information. In addition, this method minimizes the amount of unnecessary information. Finally, the Sequence Method writes down every new thought, fact, and topic. This method is effective while the notes are well-organized and at the same time include the most important information (DeZure, Kaplan, and Deerman 2).

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As a result, efficient note-taking is considered to be an essential skill for studying at university. Effective note-taking may help each person to concentrate, differentiate important information from irrelevant, process information, listen, paraphrase, and clarify unknown material. Students are recommended to organize their notes with the help of various tables, mind maps, summaries, and diagrams. Well-structured and clear notes are necessary for the processes of learning and personal development.

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