Academic Module 4: Listening/Watching and Note-Taking

19 Listening and Taking Notes in the Classroom

One of the important tasks college students have to do frequently in their courses is to take notes from the information the professor provides in the class meetings. Some students are used to taking detailed notes by writing them down in a notebook or typing them out on a device. Other students may prefer to listen and remember, which may work in the short term, but in the long run may be insufficient as the information covered increases in terms of both the amount and the complexity. Therefore, it is essential that all students learn some simple strategies for note-taking. Remember, you may also record the class lectures with your professor’s explicit permission. However, even if you record the class lectures, you still would need to create notes at some point.

One of the ways to become a good note-taker is to skim the material beforehand, so that when you go into the classroom, you have a context for what the professor talks about and also have a sense of the things that are not clear and need you to pay more attention to. Also, look out for keywords or important facts that the professor may use and emphasize, for example by writing them on the board. Finally, make sure to organize your notes in ways that make it easy for you to understand them when you review them later. For instance, you could use the levels of information method to organize your notes, moving from general to specific. The more logically organized your notes (and the logic may vary from one subject to another), the easier it will be for you to understand the topic your are taking notes on. Color-coding, underlining, and highlighting are additional strategies that works well for many students.


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Demystifying Academic English by Rashi Jain is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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