Note-taking is a part of the college student’s classroom experience. Whether you are reading a book or watching a film, taking good notes will help you recall what you have heard, read, or saw. Effective notes will help you remember much more than what you actually remember. There are some guidelines that you may find helpful for taking effective notes when reading and viewing.
Taking notes while reading can be tempting, especially the fact that you will have the urge to write down content verbatim. If you do that, you are basically rewriting so that you can memorize. It is more effective to read for comprehension, so that you can have a thorough understanding of the information you have read. Do not copy the material; restate the main ideas in your own words.
After restating each main idea (in your own words), make sure to follow each with a list of details to support it. Use key words and phrases. Avoid writing entire sentences. This takes too much time, and writing and reading complete sentences is not necessary to effectively recall what you have read. Bullets with trigger words can help jog the brain to remember the content.
If the quote is so compelling that you feel you must use it, be sure to use quotation marks to the author, giving him or her proper credit. Using quotation marks in notes is also good if you use the notes as research information when writing a paper or giving a presentation. It helps you keep track of what words are yours and what words belong to someone else. Keep careful records of the sources you use.
Taking notes while watching a class film can be more difficult than taking notes when reading a book. There is no way to stop the action and see a section of the film again (unless you are viewing it on a DVD in the privacy of your dorm room). Preparation is key for writing effective notes from a film. Prepare for the film by reading any related materials ahead of time.
Implement the same guidelines used for note-taking while reading. Instead of reading, listen for main ideas and make note of them in one word or short phrases. Then, list the supporting details below each main idea. Don’t worry about taking your eyes off the screen to write notes. You can listen to the dialogue or narrator even while you are writing.
When viewing the film, be aware of visual information, such as setting and environment. Also, if there is a moderator, take note of specific body language and facial expressions that may aide to your understanding of the film. It is always a good idea to check out the credits at the end of the film for interesting information about the film’s production. Don’t forget to include the title of the film.