Lecture notes provide a way to document and reflect on part of the learning process. They help the student compare what is being learned with previous knowledge, and can also serve as a study device for examination periods. Key points will be remembered more easily and efficiently if they are written quickly and legibly. Lecture notes can also help recall information from a lecture or seminar that was not specifically examined.
Composition of a note
Lecture notes should be brief and succinct. It is advisable not to write too much information, as this can lead to lengthy and bulky notes which are unclear and more difficult to follow. The most important ideas in a section of a lecture should be captured in the first few sentences.
Continue writing down what you can remember of the lecture, but focus on key points to explain and illustrate. Summaries information when appropriate instead of transcribing it verbatim. Use diagrams or bullet lists to make your point clearer.
If no clear method or structure is presented by the lecturer, break the information down into different sections, and use a bullet list to indicate where each section begins.
Make connections between key points. Highlight the relationships between ideas by paraphrasing or quoting, rather than writing out full phrases.
If you find it difficult summarizing information in your own words, try using the lecturer’s language instead of forcing your interpretation upon the material.
Notes may be written in either full or shorthand (conventional writing). Using shorthand can help save time and ensure clarity, but this method works best when the student has had training. If you decide to use abbreviations, make sure you are consistent throughout your notes – write out an abbreviation once then refer to it for the rest of the lecture.
More information on shorthand
More information on the benefits of writing notes in full
“It is advisable not to write too much information, as this can lead to lengthy and bulky notes which are unclear and more difficult to follow.”
What are some examples? How do you know when it’s “too much information”?
“Make connections between key points.”
What are some examples? Why is it important to connect ideas in this way?
“Notes may be written in either full or shorthand (conventional writing). Using shorthand can help save time and ensure clarity, but this method works best when the student has had training.
Lecture notes are a great way to review concepts and record important information.
Why should I take lecture notes?
- Recording key ideas and concepts (and knowing what the instructor emphasizes about them!)
- summarize main points
- recall and understand content after class is over
- review material before tests
- study for exams
- To help you focus on the lecture because if you are busy writing, you won’t be tempted to space out or talk with your friends!
How can I take good lecture notes?
Good preparation is half the battle! Here are some ways to prepare so that you can focus on the lecture and take good notes:
1) Be familiar with course content before you go to class. Review any assigned reading or lectures so that you have a basic understanding of what will be covered in class. This way, it’s easier to follow along with explanations and examples.
2) In addition, come prepared by writing out any questions you want to ask the instructor. This way, if there is a particular concept that you don’t understand or need clarification on, it’s easier to raise your hand and get the answer!
3) Sit near the front of the lecture hall so that you can see and hear what is going on.
4) As you write, be concise and prioritize important information.
5) If you find that you are confused about a concept, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Once the lecture is over, it’s too late to ask your questions.
6) Don’t take notes too fast though! This may cause you to miss out on important facts or explanations.
7) Review your notes within 24 hours after the lecture to help you remember important information.
8) Combine what you wrote with other resources (e.g., textbook, study guides, etc.) to understand more thoroughly and fill in any holes that may remain.
9) Have fun! Taking good notes can be rewarding and beneficial to your studying!
Lecture notes advantages
-studying in the classroom is not very productive for learning, because you can’t focus purely on taking notes when there’s a teacher explaining to you. Taking lecture notes allows you to study at your own pace
Lecture notes disadvantages
-if you don’t take good lecture notes, they won’t be helpful and will inevitably lead to forgetting
-lecture notes are sometimes very lengthy, which can be overwhelming when you’re trying to organize them in the most efficient way possible
Taking lecture notes
-take down information word for word if possible
-write questions that come to mind, you can go back and answer them later on when you study or consult with a friend or teacher
-write down the most important points raised during the lecture and be sure to include who they were made by
-concentrate on writing about what is said; pay attention to the key words that are used because these may pop up on essay questions or test questions
Lecture note content shape is like a pyramid: every piece of information is important but the most important information is at the top, so write that first
Types of lecture notes
-linear = one thought after another (easiest to keep up with)
-spiral = a whole idea repeated several times in different ways (useful for making connections and better understanding the material)