This should be fairly straight forward, yet it is worthy of mention.
Before coming to class ...
- review notes from the last lecture
- do the assigned readings
During class ...
- come to class with questions from previous lectures and reading assignments
- listen carefully to lecture and class discussions - this is the prime time to learn the material (re-reading your notes afterwards, when you did not fully understand the material in the first place is NOT a good strategy)
- take meaningful notes in class
- do not attempt to take dictation and write everything verbatim - use point form
- you are making notes to capture ideas & concepts
- write down even the 'obvious points' if they are important - if they are not in your notes, then at a later date (e.g. preparing for an exam) you may not remember that they were relevant
- use symbols, shorthand, arrows, abbreviations, drawings, etc. - they can be very effective
- leave plenty of 'white space' - you can use this space later to fill-in gaps (e.g. supplement your initial notes with info from text, web sites, insights from classmates)
- Cornell note taking system - try drawing a margin on one side (left or right) of your page; write your 'regular notes' on the larger side; the margin area is where you write down key words that relate to the notes - see diagram which shows a right-hand margin (the Cornell system uses the left side for a margin - click Cornell sheet generator to make your own paper)
- your notes are NOT a transcription of the lecture - they are memory prompts to help you remember what was discussed
- ask questions when you do not fully understand something.
After class ...
- soon after the lecture (i.e. that evening or the next day) review your notes and fill-in any missing pieces that you may still remember from class
- create a list of questions that require clarification (feel free to email them to your professor)
- if your notes are 'a mess' consider re-writing them so they are better organized and more complete - it actually only takes a few minutes.
Some useful links:
- Note Taking - UVic (note other good links on right side)
- Note Taking Techniques - Academic Tips
- Note Taking Skills - Exeter University