Tuesday, September 18, 2007

OU: Note Taking

Throughout my OU studies I have been endeavoring to find a note taking system that is ideal for me.  I have tried different systems such as highlighting important text in the course text and then making notes in a separate note-book, and mind-maps.  Yet they all seem to lead to the same result in that I tend to end up duplicating what is in the course text.  This is one of the reasons why I believe that come exam time I struggle to remember facts (i.e. lists).

Yesterday I came across an interesting article, "Advice for Students: Taking Notes that Work", at lifehack.org which detailed amongst other things several different methods for taking notes.  The one that interested me most was the Cornell System.

The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes. About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the left-hand edge of the sheet. You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the left, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions. In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

I have decided to give this method a go when I start MU120 and if it proves successful I will then use it for M450.

A search on Google for "Cornell System" came up with numerous different sites (13,000+) some of which are listed below:

Cornell University - Learning Strategies Center
Study Skills - The Cornell System
Free Cornell Note Forms

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