Key No. 5

Reference Note Taking

Unstructured note taking during a lecture will only at best capture part of the information and at worst require deciphering and hours of editing and research.


A Frame of Mind

"Have you been listening to what I've been saying?" How many times have you heard this remark by a parent, teacher, lecturer or the boss?


Have you been day-dreaming or have you been trying to second guess? Have you been thinking of what question you might be asked or have you any interest in the subject? Somehow you believe that the point being made or subject matter in question, as it is presented to you, is incomprehensible, subjective, ill prepared or lacks cohesion. Your recording or note taking of the proceedings is haphazard and sporadic to say the least.

The Records Show

These attitudes certainly detract immensely from your ability to understand a subject and indeed nothing coherent is learned. Any form of disinterest or preoccupation cannot be corrected except by yourself. A badly prepared lecture, speech or talk, however, cannot either be extrapolated or interpreted successfully and is inexcusable. Unstructured note taking during a lecture will only at best capture part of the information and at worst require deciphering and hours of editing and researching.

Interrogative Approach

To overcome the lack of interest in any subject it is necessary to adopt an interrogative role, e.g. "what is he talking about?", "has she all the facts?", "am I getting the complete story?", "can he support the information being given?", "do I have any questions for her?" Once you undertake this approach it is surprising how interesting any subject can become through participation and involvement either directly or indirectly.

Restriction of Preciseness

Recording in the formal sense where the subject matter is recorded practically "word for word" in long hand or in precise detail using short-hand restricts the interrogative participation. Participation, directly or indirectly, is recommended in all cases whether the subject matter is difficult, uninteresting or interesting. Consequently a more suitable method of note taking is required.

Structured Note Taking

Structured note taking will allow the level and degree of participation required. Structured note taking should be in the form of some of the techniques and aids described earlier, e.g. key points, ancillary points, schematics, mind maps and the big picture technique. The use of these techniques will permit participation, directly or indirectly, in the subject being discussed. These techniques allow easy highlighting of the main points as they arise and the insertion, where necessary, of queries or ancillary information as required afterwards. Your shorthand skills will also be of use here. The formalising of these notes can then be taken as another phase of revision.

Take a Leaf out of Someone Else's Book

The structured notes taken during a lecture should highlight queries that need to be resolved, additional research that should be undertaken and references to associated material that has to be examined.

As revision is repeated and as the subject is developed numerous new ideas, cross references and additional pieces of information are obtained. These should be inserted into the notes. In this way the subject is linked, associated and developed on an on-going basis and it does not remain fragmented, disjointed and stagnant.

Key Points
1. A Frame Of Mind
2. What Do The Records Show?
3. An Interrogative Approach Is Necessary
4. Beware Of The Restrictions of Preciseness
5. Structured Note Taking Will Give You Flexibility
6. Take A Leaf Out Of Someone Else's Book


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