Whether you’re a university student, a working professional, or someone attending a course, taking important notes to facilitate the learning process is one of the most crucial tasks you do every day. Note-taking is often perceived as simply recording key points or transcribing everything verbatim. However, when you are knowledgeable about note-taking techniques, you can handle your tasks much more efficiently and derive more benefits from your notes. This, in turn, increases your chances of success in your work or studies.
If you feel you lack note-taking skills or information on this subject, worry not! You can enhance your skills by exploring effective note-taking techniques. So, what are the ways to take notes? Let’s delve into all the details about note-taking together.
How to Take the Best Notes?
From ancient times to the present, various methods and strategies have been applied in note-taking. Some are more formal, while others stem from the strategies of individuals who have mastered successful note-taking techniques. However, before delving into note-taking techniques, it is crucial to prepare your mind and steer clear of things that can diminish your focus, with nutrition being one of these factors. Consuming foods with high salt or sugar content before important meetings or classes may lead to concentration and attention issues. Therefore, avoiding such foods before the note-taking process can be beneficial.
In addition to this, to develop effective note-taking techniques, it is essential to be an active listener in class, stay away from distractions, and focus on the teacher or speaker rather than being influenced by friends. When you concentrate solely on listening, you can take the best notes. So, what are the effective note-taking techniques?
The Best Note-Taking Techniques
The outline method is one of the easiest note-taking techniques. It can be easily grasped and applied by everyone. The goal of this method is to identify four or five key points in a specific lesson or meeting. Underneath these key points, more detailed sub-notes are written based on the discussed ideas. In essence, you create a draft of the lesson or meeting. The outline method can be used when you want to review your notes in detail and see the connections between different topics.
Developed in the 1950s at Cornell University to enhance students’ note-taking skills, the Cornell method is one of the most widespread techniques. This method shares similarities with the outline method, but it delves deeper. Firstly, divide your note page into four sections:
- A narrow column at the top for the title.
- A vertical column on the left for key words.
- A wider column on the right for your actual notes.
- A summary area at the bottom.
After organizing the page this way, you can write information such as the name and date of the class or meeting in the top title section. The detailed explanations are written in the notes section on the right, and keywords related to these notes are extracted in the keyword section. The summary section provides a concise summary of all the information written on the paper. What makes the Cornell method popular is its incorporation of six processes: recording, reducing, reciting, reflecting, reviewing, and revising, making the notes more memorable.
Mind Mapping Method
The mind mapping method is particularly useful for interconnected topics or complex and abstract ideas, commonly applied in subjects like chemistry, history, and philosophy. This method visually assists in understanding how each topic is related. It also helps in obtaining details about specific ideas or topics. Use a blank sheet and colored pens to position the relevant topic in the center of the paper. Draw branches with colored pens around this topic, identifying themes related to the subject. Each of these ideas should progress in connection with the main topic and subsequent thoughts. Also known as a mind map, this method allows the brain to be used in a richer way.
This method is suitable not only for personal planning but also for creating weekly and monthly schedules.
Flow Notes Method
Flow notes involve acting like a student rather than converting an idea into writing. In this method, you take topics, create arrows to form a general idea, and embellish them with graphics. The flow method is effective for those seeking to enhance the active learning process and for those who want to quickly review their notes.
This method also supports the creation of various connections within the subject.
The sentence method is another effective note-taking technique. In this method, everything said in class or a meeting is noted down. This method can be considered a shorter model of flow notes. When you translate words into sentences while taking notes, it becomes easier to grasp the main points and quickly review and understand your notes.
The disadvantage of the sentence technique is that you may not always keep up with everything said. Sometimes, you might miss important points and ideas. Nevertheless, this method is suitable for simple notes.
The graphic method uses the technique of dividing a page into three columns. Similar to the mind mapping method, it allows you to match relationships between topics. This method is ideal for those who want to highlight essential information and easily review their notes.
The slide method is particularly useful for those who do not want to take long notes. It is often preferred by educators in classes. The method eliminates the rush of note-taking and allows you to print out slides, write notes on them, and enhance the learning process by improving the notes on the slides.
Is Taking Notes on a Computer Better Than Writing in a Notebook?
With the advancement of technology, our note-taking habits have changed. Computers and tablets have become new tools for note-taking. The advantages of taking notes in a digital environment include organizing notes, adding new ones, searching for keywords, and easily sharing notes with others. On the other hand, handwritten notes on paper allow for faster movement than keyboard use, provide a healthier working opportunity compared to digital means, and offer a better chance of remembering the notes. According to experts, taking notes in a notebook is more effective for the learning process, but the final decision is yours! Staying loyal to the method you feel more comfortable with personally will yield more fruitful results in the long run.