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Student Guide to Effective Note Taking

Student Guide to Effective Note Taking

Note taking is one of the most effective ways to comprehend studied material. It’s challenging for many people because effective note taking requires a lot of attention from you, which is something most people find difficult. However, if you want to kick away poor note taking, the following strategies can help you do it effectively.

2-6 Note Taking Method

This is one of the most effective note taking strategies, according to experts. It’s also known as Cornell Method. In this method, all you need to do is partition your notebook into 2 parts, as shown in sample below. The smaller 2 column can be used for the highlighting. Use the column on the right for the most important materials and what you think will be tested. The result of this strategy is that you have enough content to scan when the time comes for you to do so.

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2-6 Notes Taking Method

    Split Page Technique

    Since what you learn in class is only comparable to what exists in textbooks, you need to activate two parts in your notebook with a straight separating line. Here, all you have to do is take class notes on one side and textbook material on the other side. When you’re revising, you will be able to have materials from both sides integrated. You can also add a set of questions to ask the professor in a third partition on the page. You can also use Wiki for better note taking.

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    Use Group Notes

    You also need to activate other people’s perspectives insofar as notes are concerned, especially when you don’t feel like taking notes during class. When you don’t have to take notes in class, make sure that you’re totally active in class and attentive, as this will aid you further when you review all of your notes before a test. You could also take a few notes of the crucial parts during class time.

    Capture as much info as you can

    It’s very important to understand the art of note taking. However, although many people assume this is rocket science, note taking is not much more than simple common sense. It’s also important to improvise new ways of capturing what is said in class because many times, it’s so hard to differentiate or capture everything the professor says. A good voice recorder can help you capture lectures for later revision. To this end, always try to transcribe the materials when it’s still fresh in your mind.

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    Identify noteworthy sections of lesson

    Not everything you hear in class should go to your notebook. Some material is better left out. Hence, when you’re taking class notes, make sure the materials are actually worthy of reviewing or reading. Once this is done, you should consider reading or retyping all the lecture notes and removing the irrelevant parts as you strive to keep the a logical sequence of work done. Experts recommend going over the work within the first 24 hours of the lesson to improve the retention rate.

    Attend class

    One of the most ignored tips among students is the need to attend class. If you want to have the right notes or increase your chances of understanding them, it’s best to try attending as many classes as you can.

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    Attending classes is important because it improves your retention. In addition, you should try to prepare for each class beforehand. Familiarizing yourself with what is being taught prepares your mind, helps you determine what to ask, and helps you avoid taking worthless notes.

    Use more color

    For effective note taking, use of different ink and color also adds up to value received. In fact, researchers associate retention to between 50-80 percent when different ink is used to make notes.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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