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Should students take notes

 Overview Pages: 68-70

Should students take notes?

Students take notes to help them pay attention and notes serve as an external memory that students can use to study with later. However, note-taking also uses up a part of students’ memory as they have to store ideas in their short-term memory long enough in order to make notes about it. Short-term memory is also used to understand new concepts that a lecturer might be explaining. Therefore, note-taking can be beneficial to students in some instances but should be done fewer at first when students are exposed to new ideas in order for them to focus attention on understanding. Lecturers should repeat new ideas or words that students are not familiar with more often during class and have some pauses during teaching time for students to take notes. Students with more background knowledge about a subject will find it easier to relate ideas with one another and then to take notes. Providing an outline of the lecture to students before class will help them to structure what they are learning and point out what will be discussed in class. This will allow them to take notes based on their interpretation of the main points and participate more in class discussions. A lecturer can also improve students’ note-taking abilities by looking at the notes that they take and how they synthesize information instead of just writing verbatim what is being said in class and providing them with feedback on how to improve.

McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers
Svinicki, M, McKeachie, WJ, 2011



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