I was revisiting Raul Pacheco’s website recently and was reminded of note taking skills. Since I’ve been taking notes on Local Journalism and Local Media, I wanted to try some new styles. I wrote about it a while ago but haven’t really had a chance to actually take notes. I’ve been busy writing straight onto either Word documents or in spreadsheets.
This is the first time I’ve tried the Cornell note-taking method and it’s been really good. I do actually look back over my notes and answer the questions to recall information (a more useful strategy than just reading), and I easily get into the habit of writing questions for myself in the margins.
I start in the following way. I divide my page into three columns:
- Page number column: one thin margin on the left where I put the page numbers,
- Question column: one slightly biggish column on the right, for questions, and a
- Note taking column: the middle section of the page for note taking.
The following instructions are from Cornell University. The original instructions are from How to Study in College 7/e by Walter Pauk, 2001 Houghton Mifflin Company
1. Record: During the lecture, use the note-taking column to record the lecture using telegraphic sentences.
2. Questions: As soon after class as possible, formulate questions based on the notes in the right-hand column. Writing questions helps to clarify meanings, reveal relationships, establish continuity, and strengthen
memory. Also, the writing of questions sets up a perfect stage for exam-studying later.
3. Recite: Cover the note-taking column with a sheet of paper. Then, looking at the questions or cue-words in the question and cue column only, say aloud, in your own words, the answers to the questions, facts, or ideas
indicated by the cue-words.
4. Reflect: Reflect on the material by asking yourself questions, for example:
“What’s the significance of these facts? What principle are they based on? How can I apply them? How do they fit in with what I already know? What’s beyond them?
5. Review: Spend at least ten minutes every week reviewing all your previous notes. If you do, you’ll retain a great deal for current use, as well as, for the exam.
For those who haven’t tried it, Raul Pacheco’s blog is an incredible resource for doctoral studies.