Library

Showing posts with label note-taking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label note-taking. Show all posts

26 July 2016

Taking notes - with or without lecture slides

If you're a returning student here at Monash - welcome back! You’ve had some experience of being in lectures and tutorials, and have seen what works for you...and perhaps also what doesn’t. If this semester is your first, welcome to Monash! You can review our tips and tricks from last semester, but for those seeking to build their skills, look no further...



Materials used in lectures (such as slides) are typically made available to students either before or after the lecture - you’ll usually find them in Moodle. But what if the slides aren’t published? This does happen sometimes, for a number of reasons - it could be connected to the way the unit’s content is assessed, for example. It can be frustrating, but try to remember everyone else in that unit will be facing the same situation, so it’s still a level playing field.

Key ideas

So with no slides to guide you, how can you approach note-taking? Try to resist the urge to write down everything that you can see on the slides, along with everything that your lecturer says...it’s an impossible task, and while you may be able to manage it for the first week or two, you’ll soon run out of steam. Think about information in terms of key concepts and explanations: Write down the key ideas presented on the slides, and listen to what the lecturer says to fill in your knowledge of these ideas. This handy infographic gives you some tips to help determine what information is going to be most useful for you later on, as well as some nifty shorthand for when the pressure’s on!

Get organised

Organising your notes once they’ve been written is an important step that is easier said than done - it can be difficult to find the time to go through what you’ve written, especially when assessments start rolling in. Try and set aside a few hours each week to go through the week’s notes for each of your units. Aim to organise them into something that will be useful later on, when you’re beginning your research for assignments, or revising for exams. You don’t have to do it all in one block - half an hour before dinner each night can make things a little more manageable. Apps such as Evernote are a popular organising tool, and if you’re a more visual person, a mind-mapping tool such as XMind may be the answer. It can be tempting to try to skip a step and just use these apps in class, but things move at such a fast pace, that it’s rarely a good idea. Plus, using tablets and other devices in class means infinite distractions at your fingertips, which only those with the strongest willpower will be able to ignore! Best to keep it lo-fi in class, and save the fun gadgetry for later on...

It goes without saying, of course, that during lectures you should not only try to minimise distracting yourself, but also distracting others - in other words, please don’t talk during lectures, unless you are asked to! It can be hard to concentrate for two (or more…) hours at a stretch, but you’ll receive far fewer death-stares from your classmates if you save the chatter for the all-important post-lecture coffee. If you were feeling really dedicated, you could even invite a few friends from your class and swap notes...okay, I’m pushing things a little too far here, but it’s not as crazy as it sounds!

Don’t forget to have a look at the Library Class Booking System - we run a variety of skills classes throughout the semester. Search using keywords such as ‘note’ ‘skills’ ‘lecture’ ‘listen’ or ‘study’ to see if there are any relevant classes you can go along to! Or, chat to a Librarian or Learning Skills Adviser at your Library’s Research & Learning Point - check for opening times here.



Read More

2 March 2016

Level up, and get the most out of lectures!

You’ll have heard it countless times by now - “University is different from high school”. It’s true that you’ll need to tweak your practices to get the most out of your time here, but there are plenty of resources to get you on the right track, says Librarian Romney Adams.


Your listening and note-taking skills are incredibly useful, as they’re what you’ll rely on to take information away from your lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, labs, and other classes - so don’t underestimate their power!

Now, you might be thinking - “I know how to listen, and I know how to write notes” - of course you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. But you can really supersize these skills, and use them to an even greater advantage.

Note-taking

Can I take this moment to emphasise the importance of writing neatly...or at least legibly? We’ve all experienced that moment of using your notes to revise, only to discover you can’t make sense of them. A common cause of this is writing at high speed, getting down every note from your lecturer’s slides, and every utterance and witty aside from their mouth.

Generally speaking, lecturers will make their slides available to you via Moodle, either shortly before or after a class - check Moodle for an announcement on this, or email your lecturer for clarification. If it’s before class, great! You’ve got a set of notes you can annotate. If it’s after class, that’s okay too - you at least know you don’t have to worry about noting everything down from the slides. Either way, you can focus on listening for important pieces of information your lecturer mentions verbally, to strengthen the content included in the lecture slides.


Remember, you don’t need to write down everything your lecturer mentions - you can usually tell what’s going to be useful simply by the lecturer’s tone of voice, emphasis, or even body language.

Tablets and laptops are a great solution to the ‘can’t-read-my-own-writing’ problem, but can prove an irresistible gateway to a plethora of other distractions. Consider going back to Classical times and just bring pen and paper - any doodling you do may actually help improve your concentration!

Participation

While of course, you are welcome to ask questions in lectures, your primary concern is to listen, and take notes. Talking is an obvious distraction, not only to yourself, but also to your neighbours - you’d be surprised at how far two whispering voices can travel in a lecture theatre.

It’s a different story for seminars, workshops, labs, and tutorials though, where greater participation is encouraged - and can even form a portion of your overall mark. Participation does not simply mean being present - you’ll be expected to engage with the teaching staff and ask questions - another good reason to listen to what’s being said!


What if I can’t make it?

Sometimes, things happen, and you can’t attend a lecture. However, there are still ways you can access the necessary material. Many lectures are captured and stored for your viewing pleasure on MULO. This is also a great source for exam revision at the end of semester!

If your lectures aren’t recorded, things are a little trickier - but not impossible. Teaching staff are usually understanding if you have a good reason for not being able to attend, and may be able to email a copy of the slides to you - it goes without saying that the after-effects of partying are not considered to be ‘good reason’! You can also ask your lecturer or tutor if you can have a quick consultation/appointment with them, to catch up on anything important you may have missed. If you know you’re going to miss a class, you can also ask friends to take notes for you - it helps if you shout them coffee or a pint in return, to show your appreciation.

Don’t forget to have a look at the Library Class Booking System - we run a variety of skills classes throughout the semester! Search using keywords such as ‘note’ ‘skills’ ‘lecture’ ‘listen’ or ‘study’ to see if there are any relevant classes you can go along to! Or, chat to a Librarian or Learning Skills Adviser at your Library’s Research & Learning Point - check for opening times here.


Memes: Romney Adams


Read More

3 March 2015

Lectures, listening skills, and note-taking

Whether you’re in a first-year class with 200 others, or a cosy, intimate third-year lecture featuring you and 15 classmates, your listening and note-taking skills are crucial for success....by Romney Adams.

Doodles on a notepad

Nothing is worse than getting to the end of the year and finding stuff like this in place of notes =>

Entertaining? Yes. Useful? ...not so much. Here’s our quick guide to surviving in the lecture theatre.

Sit down, shu-- ... be quiet

While of course, you are welcome to ask questions in lectures, your primary concern is to listen, and take notes. Talking is an obvious distraction, not only to yourself, but also to your neighbours - you’d be surprised at how far two whispering voices can travel in a lecture theatre!

Mary and Lucas had this huge fight, but then....Listen up, and take notes

Generally speaking, your lecturers will make their slides available to you, before or after class. So, you shouldn’t think of note-taking as simply copying down what your lecturer has on their slides - chances are these will be given to you, so writing their content down will simply be a waste of time.

What’s better is to listen out for important pieces of information you can use to strengthen the content of the lecture slides. If you’ve been given the slides beforehand (check Moodle!), you can print them off, and annotate them in-class.

It’s not necessary to write down everything your lecturer has to say - you can usually tell simply by the lecturer’s tone of voice, emphasis, or even body language, as to whether the information you’re about to receive is of particular importance.

Tablets and laptops are great to bring to class, but, as we all know, they can be incredibly distracting. Consider going back to Classical times and just bring pen and paper - you won’t find yourself scrolling through StalkerSpace, and any doodling you do may actually help improve your concentration!

Participate

When using Allocate+ to submit your preferences, you may have noticed the lecture component of your classes are sometimes referred to as ‘seminars’, or ‘workshops’. These still follow the basic principles of a lecture, however greater participation is encouraged - it may even form some of your overall mark for the unit. Participation does not simply mean being present - you’ll be expected to engage with the teaching staff and ask questions - another good reason to listen to what’s being said!

What if I can’t make it?

The life of a student is busy, and sometimes, due to seen or unforeseen circumstances, it’s not always possible to attend your lectures. If this is the case, don’t worry! Many lectures are captured and stored for your viewing pleasure on MULO. This is also a great source for exam revision at the end of semester.

If your lectures aren’t recorded, things are a little trickier - but not impossible. Teaching staff are usually understanding if you have a good reason for not being able to attend, and may be able to email a copy of the slides to you - it goes without saying that the after-effects of partying are not considered to be ‘good reason’! You can also ask your lecturer if you can have a quick consultation/appointment with them, to catch up on anything important you may have missed. If you know you’re going to miss a class, you can also ask friends to take notes for you - it helps if you shout them coffee or a pint in return, to show your appreciation.

Do you have any tips or tricks for listening and note-taking in lectures? Or perhaps a suggestion of how not to behave? Comment below!

[Illustrations created by Romney Adams]

Read More



About the Blog

Welcome to the Monash University Library blog. Whether you are engaged in learning, teaching or research activities, the Library and its range of programs, activities and resources will contribute to your success. Here you will find useful information, ideas, tips and inspiration. Your comments on any of the articles are welcome.

If you believe that copyright material is available on this blog in such a way that infringes copyright, please contact our designated representative

.