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Listening and Note-taking Strategies

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The following strategies will help.

1. Have a separate notebook or section in a binder for each course. Keeping notes for different courses separately provides organization and structure. Professors vary in their lecture styles and in the information they provide in their courses.

2. Make sure you put the date on each page of your notes to help you stay organized throughout the semester. Knowing when information was lectured on will help you as you study or write research papers.

3. Make your notes readable and legible. Do not try to cram every ounce of information all on one line or page. Keep spaces throughout your notes, and leave space in the margins in case you need to go back and write more. Write in your own words, using short phrases and abbreviations when possible.

4. Keep your notes brief and to the point.

5. Highlight or underline any key information, because key points, concepts, ideas, and conclusions need to stand out from other information written down.

6. Content in your notes should include professor's introduction, transitions, and conclusions. Professors will often signal transitions in their lectures and guide you through the structure of their lecture. Include main ideas and supporting details of essential points.

7. Include any illustrations or drawings in your notes. Creating a diagram of certain information will help you to remember points made by your professor. Visual aspects such as a concept map, which shows relationships between ideas, enhance your learning.

Reviewing Your Notes

After you have taken notes, reviewing them gives you the opportunity to check for understanding and allows you to comprehend what you have learned. As you review, write down any questions you may have. Understanding what you have written will ensure comprehension of the material. Having good listening and note-taking strategies will ease any concerns you may have about going back to college.

Sylvia E. Stanley holds a Masters of Education in Divergent Learning and a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education and Teaching from Columbia College, South Carolina.

Make a Note of It
To prepare for each lecture, be sure to read the assigned text before class. Make notes on what you have read, including material that is unclear. Use the text to help you prepare any questions you want to ask during class.

Your lecture notes will help clarify points not understood in the course textbook. Lecture notes together with notes from the textbook make an excellent way to review.

Professors often show what is important by using repetition, summaries or conclusions, writing material on a board or utilizing other visual aids, voice emphasis, or questions directed toward students. Words are often used, such as "causes of", "aspects of", " and transitional phrases such as "likewise" or "similarly".

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